For this failing PLP government its five years is up. Don’t string it out any longer, call the election Malcolm J Strachan says . . .
The 2017 general elections are almost upon us.
By all reasoned expectations, they will be held in May as the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) pushes its term in office to the absolute limit to ensure some final pieces of its “swing the electorate” machine are in place.
National Health Insurance still needs to be implemented and God knows what will happen with Baha Mar on April 21, so the less said about that the better.
Therefore, for the PLP, time is its true enemy right now. It needs time to sign as many heads of agreements, as many memorandums of understanding, and drag the media to as many “ground breaking ceremonies” as they can stomach in the next 30 to 60 days. It must be done, you see, to give the PLP something ... anything ... to campaign on in the weeks ahead.
This current government knows it has no record on which to run.
You ask a random PLP supporter (if you can find one so bold enough to still identify as such) why they are voting for the PLP and you get a cacophony of stammering and coached answers, if any response at all. You may get instead the angry stare and hushed curses of someone who is as equally frustrated with their party as the average person is with this government.
You do not have to look far to understand their frustration.
Crime has been abysmally high under this administration, which is no small feat considering the number of murders seen under the Ingraham administration from 2007 to 2012 (600 and counting against 490-plus in their respective five-year terms). Still, the PLP was the party that campaigned on crime in 2012, promising to have solutions on day one to this scourge that had gripped the nation. A vote for the PLP in 2012 was a vote to end the bloodshed on our streets. But alas, this, like so many other promises, turned out to be nothing more than hot air.
Then you have the economy.
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and his then cabinet were described on the campaign trail by the PLP as being fiscally irresponsible, with the PLP leadership describing them as having spent the public funds like they were “drunken sailors”. It was a cute quote that played well during the rallies. After all, the PLP pointed to the infamous Jose Cartallone $100m roadworks overrun as all the proof they needed that the Free National Movement (FNM) had to go.
It would be funny if it were not so sad to look back on that single project overrun and think of the billions lost by the PLP since coming to office. One hundred million dollars is nothing in comparison to the king’s fortune that has either been squandered, lost, stolen, misappropriated or unaccounted for under this PLP during the last five years.
At least the Bahamas got a new network of improved roads and water mains from the cost overruns on that project whereas with Christie and Co, we can’t even get a proper accounting of over $1.3bn in VAT collected since it was implemented in 2015.
You could be forgiven a moment to laugh if it were not so serious.
Our nation has been downgraded four times by the credit ratings agencies in the last five years.
We have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and National Insurance Board fees and salaries due to the shuttering of Baha Mar.
We have lost over 600 lives due to the government’s inability to provide any real impact on crime and the rise of a new and more violent gang culture.
We have lost cruise lines and hotels and dropped in the ease of doing business reports.
We have had crime warning after crime warning issued by both the United States and Canada.
We have had politicians interfering with the judiciary.
We have had politicians reading the emails of private citizens in the halls of Parliament and accuse them of attempting to “destabilise” the government.
We have had a Prime Minister ‘flip the bird’ to the nation.
We have had more than any civilised country should take.
The only comparison we could find to our current state of affairs would be the legacy of Robert Mugabe, an aged leader who doesn’t know when his time has come and gone to exit public life and be grateful of the leniency his citizens have given him. For a country such as the Bahamas, so rich with resources and natural beauty, there is no excuse why our national debt is over $7bn.
There’s little wonder why civil society organisations are rising up. We March and other pressure groups have been popping up, demanding change and accountability from their government. The government has naturally not appreciated such groupings, labelling their motives as “political” or in some cases even calling them “enemies” of the state.
There’s little doubt that, if the FNM were in office, the PLP would be right out there marching with them, demanding transparency and accountability. But now that the shoe is on the other foot, such lofty ideals must be put on the back burner.
That’s why the public is fed up. They are tired of the forked tongues and double-speak. They want an administration that listens to them and responds to their needs and concerns. Case in point: this most recent fire at the city dump that has impacted the entire island of New Providence. It was a problem that could have been resolved years ago but the constant dragging of the government’s feet has allowed a problem to get worse and worse. We are at the stage now where the government simply throws their hands in the air and proclaims there’s nothing to be done now - so fly in the American experts to tell us what we should have done all those years ago.
Once again, no accountability or apology for failing to do their job - only finger pointing and political spin. That is why the public has had enough.
They want to know when the bell will be rung so they can get on with firing this PLP government.
They have more than enough reasons to see the backs of the PLP. So the antics of announcing “soon to come” projects or “around the corner” deals won’t do this administration any good. You have had five years to prove your worth, and you have been found wanting at every turn.
It’s now time to stop stalling and give the people a chance to show them how they feel about you.
So let’s ring the bell already and get on with it.
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