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Insight: A Bitter Pill To Swallow

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis addresses the nation.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis addresses the nation.

By MALCOLM STRACHAN

LAST week the entire nation got the opportunity to hear from its leader as Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, as promised after winning the election, gave his first National Address as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Bahamians home and abroad listened intently to hear what cures the good doctor has in store to reverse the fate of a country that many feared was on the path to terminal illness under the previous administration.

Prime Minister Minnis had some very salient points in his address. Throughout his speech, you can hear his appeal to two distinct audiences – the Bahamians that wanted to rid the country of Perry Christie, as well as the international community in the form of credit rating agencies and potential investors that listened keenly to the new CEO’s vision.

No stranger to complexities based on his long medical career, the unassuming underdog that overcame all the doubters and naysayers now sits atop the mountain and is tasked with pulling the country out of the economic rubble it was buried under by the former administration.

Accordingly, during his address, he focused on “outlining the critical challenges” we face as a nation, as well as sharing his vision for what his government intends to do about it. As has been done on many occasions since May 10, Prime Minister Minnis reminded us of the quagmire that we are in and how we got here. While this may become a broken record for some, it is also very important to note, as the road that we are about to travel will bring along with it discomfort.

Prime Minister Minnis is fully aware of this, and he is appealing to the men and women of this country to also understand that difficult decisions must be made. Unfortunately, we may not always like the medicine, but growth requires a dose of discomfort. The nation’s social and economic health demands it.

To this end, the prime minister prescribed various cutbacks in his government’s plans to divert the country’s course from economic ruin. Freezing hires in the public sector, 10% expenditure cuts in all government ministries and announcing that all contracts exceeding $100,000 will not be renewed all present a painstaking reality. However, these actions may be necessary as the government tries to manage the fiscal nightmare left by its predecessor.

While we struggled to make ends meet, we had to witness the overindulging extravagance on the part of the previous administration that jet-setted around the world like royals on the people’s dime. The prime minister’s promise to reduce the number of government vehicles and foreign travel are a much appreciated step on their path to fiscal prudence.

Without getting too giddy, one must admit that the prime minister is displaying all signs that he is a stickler for fiscal responsibility and law and order. This is refreshing for a populace that has had its prospects ravaged by corruption under a lack of strong leadership in recent times.

Now that we’re trying to pick up the pieces, we need someone who is willing to ‘gut’ the system and rid Bahamian politics of those only using it as a platform to promote their own selfish agendas, while those who place their trust in them suffer. Minnis, though it is still early in his tenure as prime minister, is showing that he is committed to cleaning up politics and elevating the people of The Bahamas.

Let’s face it – at this juncture where corruption has hobbled our economy, what can possibly be of more importance?

With this in mind, amid the recent extortion and bribery developments, Prime Minister Minnis took the opportunity to echo to his government, along with the local and international community, that he will not tolerate any misfeasance under his watch.

Corruption and violence have been two of the biggest inhibitors to our economic growth. Both deter and destroy human capital and as the country becomes more unsafe to live, many talented young people are either declining to move home, or emigrating to other countries.

Prime Minister Minnis must be mindful of this, as he too, spoke to the need for us to focus on our greatest natural resource – the people. People must be made to feel safe and as though they can thrive.

In so doing, he acknowledged that for the government to succeed, it must be in concert with the people – an educated people with a renewed priority on family and community. The prime minister expressed a focus on the same – acknowledging that education and training are “at the heart of economic reform”.

Included in his vision for the country’s economic reform, he also recognized that there is a dire need to diversify our industries, and while we would like to hear more of his plans in this regard, we must also understand that in the short-term that we have to water the seeds that will harvest the fastest.

In this vein, tourism has been our golden goose for as long as we have been an independent nation. Prime Minister Minnis affirmed his government’s commitment to supporting Baha Mar and Atlantis, as well as our broad tourism product offering throughout the family islands.

In totality, Minnis’ address gave us a sense of what direction the government intends to go in. It also signals to Moody’s, S&P and the IMF that his government is serious about improving our fiscal situation.

However, two questions that were left on the table - how and when – still remain in the minds of most citizens.

We still want to know timelines and concrete plans from the nation’s leader. However, Prime Minister Minnis has done enough to build some trust from those that elected him on May 10, but after everything we’ve been through and what was foreboded in his address last week, we still require complete partnership. We would like to feel in the loop throughout the entire process - not just twice a year when we hear from our prime minister.

Although much of what we’ve heard from the Leader of the Opposition since receiving his new title has been enough turn even the hardiest stomach, he did make a few valid points in his response to the National Address.

Once you can get beyond the normal self-justifying, apologetic tenor that we’ve seen in most PLP statements since being in opposition, you may find some substantial points. While the prime minister’s address did not lack as much as Davis asserted, we can agree that there is still a great need for the public to hear more focused plans and less ambiguity and broad speech.

Nevertheless, what we received was still a good start. We were made to understand where we are, and some of the difficulties that are to come. Hopefully, as the government is nearer to rolling out its plans, more information is shared with us.

For now, we must all exhibit patience and follow the doctor’s orders.

Comments

SP 2 years, 2 months ago

Part one:

After 70+ years of incredible massive corruption, friends, family and lovers governance by the UBP, PLP, and FNM it is no wonder the road that we are about to travel will bring along with it many discomforts.

Unfortunately, we may not always like the medicine, but growth requires a serious dose of reality which also brings discomfort like an unwelcomed amenity. Judging from the state of the nation, our social and economic health has been totally mismanaged by decades of self-serving politicians that obviously could care less about Bahamians or the future of the country.

The bitter pill we must now suffer and actions PM Minnis are forced into to salvage the nation is totally necessary as the FIRST REAL GOVERNMENT" of the Bahamas that look out for the peoples' and countries interest tries to manage the fiscal nightmare left by its successive predecessors!

While Bahamians struggled to make ends meet, we had to witness blue collar expats supplant our people in domestic, construction and other low skilled areas as the PLP and FNM talked down to Bahamians while they themselves overindulged in every manner of extravagances on the peoples' dime, jet-setting around the world like royals and spending the peoples' money like drunken pirates on furlough.

Unquestionably, prime minister Minnis is a stickler for fiscal responsibility and law and order. Pillage Loot Plunder suddenly now find themselves in totally uncharted waters unable to comprehend the present situation as their usual dancing, double talk, playing the fool and smoke and mirror routines only succeeded in totally fooling themselves!

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SP 2 years, 2 months ago

Part two:

The electorate has proven beyond any doubt that they are far more politically and otherwise astute than thought by the UBP, PLP or previous FNM parties, as they soundly rejected the notion that Bahamians are an ignorant, forgetful, stupid people. The people resoundingly confirmed that all they needed was an opportunity to vote for "GOOD LEADERSHIP" for a populace that has had its prospects ravaged by massive corruption under a lack of honest leadership for over 6 decades.

PM Minnis is proven to be committed to ‘guting’ the system, cleaning up politics and elevating the people of the Bahamas and riding Bahamian politics of corruption, friends, family and lovers governance and those only using it as a platform to promote their own selfish agendas, while the electorate suffer.

Without question, corruption has hobbled our economy which was once the 3rd strongest in the hemisphere, decimated our people who were known as the proudest in the region and turned our country into a place where expatriates come live the Bahamian dream without contributing to the growth and well being of the Bahamas as the host country.

The Bahamas is among the top residential locations globally for mega wealthy persons and can boast of having the wealthiest of the wealthy as residents. Recent extortion and bribery developments will quickly reset the image the Bahamas as a safe place for FDI and encourage any number of high net worth resident individuals already here to finally feel safe investing the country.

PM Minnis vision, however, for the country’s economic reform to diversify our industries in the short-term is fated for failure. It would be far better and more expedient to concentrate on the deepening and development of tourism which has already proven here and in competing regional destinations as a solid pillar for growth and rapid prosperity.

After only two Months in office and with new damning revelations on a daily basis, the prime minister’s address has shed "just enough light" on his trajectory for the country to give all Bahamians the real prospect of hope that we have finally elected a leader with the peoples and countries best interest at heart.

Pillage Loot Plunder opposition leader Brave Davis and his crew of losers no longer have a voice that anyone with sense will listen to.

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Porcupine 2 years, 2 months ago

Great comments. I agree, especially as regards tourism. Hope the "cleaning up" can really happen. Thanks

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

The IMF, IDB, Moody's, S&P, etc. (all agents of the U.S. government used as instruments to implement U.S. foreign policy) are putting considerable pressure on the Minnis-led FNM government to borrow even more rather than stick with an austerity program that will eventually eliminate our budget deficits and start paying down our national debt. It seems all of these agents of the U.S. government are telling our government that the Bahamas must continue to borrow willy-nilly in order to avoid wide spread civil unrest and increased violent crime that will result from an effective austerity program aimed at warding off economic collapse. We must turn a deaf ear to the advice coming from these international agencies because they cannot point to a single nation whose economy they have turned around; in fact, these agencies have wrecked the economies of many countries foolish enough to follow their advice. Minnis is absolutely correct in saying we must take our medicine now, and endure the pain that comes with it, in order to avoid what would otherwise be certain death for our country. The U.S. government will tell the world over and over again that we are a crime ridden country in an effort to pressure our government into borrowing more and more. We should respond by reminding the U.S. that it has several cities, each with a population far exceeding the population of our entire country, where the violent crime rates are so high that vast densely populated areas have become literal war zones, e.g. Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, etc.

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Reality_Check 2 years, 2 months ago

Unlike the U.S. we don't have the luxury of being able to print money to pay overseas creditors for goods and services imported by our country. This is why we cannot borrow our way out of the financial hole we are in and must instead go the austerity route. Minnis knows (and hopefully KP appreciates) that we must aggressively tackle a significant overall reduction in the very bloated costs of our government. Minnis will be greatly rewarded for doing so five years from now as things slowly begin to turn around for us.

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tell_it_like_it_is 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree in a sense that the US focuses on crime in The Bahamas for ulterior motives ('most' tourists are not in danger of murder, locals are in far greater danger). If you keep up with American politics you will see that the corruption there is at another level than we can ever dream of. So I would not be surprised to learn that they are hoping for our failure for their benefit.

All that aside, I am heartened to see that PM Minnis is trying to 'clean house'. Once he commits to do that on both sides of the isle, that will be great news. I think more ideas are also needed in how to grow the economy beyond tourism and banking alone.

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DDK 2 years, 2 months ago

You are so right. They should concentrate on the continued decline of the almighty U.S. dollar and stop their own regime of plunder, loot and pillage.

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djgross 2 years, 2 months ago

How about ending discrimination against foreign workers? I am one of dozens of US workers who are still waiting to be paid owed salary and severance from the Baha Mar bankruptcy. All Bahamian workers were compensated. What value are labor laws and contracts if they don't protect everyone? This discrimination appears to be Government of the Bahamas sanctioned.

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 2 months ago

Strachan is to doc what Fox news is to Trump.

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