EDITOR, The Tribune.
Any emperor worth his salt is worthy of a new chariot every now and then. But when his kingdom is broke, even the mightiest emperor must lead by example and publicly demonstrate that austerity starts at home.
Our Prime Minister never got that memo and so it appears that he continues to spend like a drunken sailor even as the world’s financial police warn of dangers ahead for the Bahamas unless we stop spending money we don’t have.
When things get tight in our own family budget we immediately start to implement austerity measures. We cut out unnecessary spending and look for ways to economize. Our old car gets a tune-up instead of replacement. We buy one less latte everyday and when we simply must travel we plan ahead to get the cheapest ticket available.
The good old folks at Fresh Creek, Andros, have a unique word for someone who has no money. They call you bruck! As a nation we are bruck, but that fact hasn’t sunk in yet with our Prime Minister.
Some Bahamians who were searching for money to buy gas for their cars were blown off the road recently by a motorcade of police outriders with blaring sirens announcing that our Prime Minister was late again and needed to hog the road.
While muttering under their breath as they sank into another off-road pothole to evade the high-speed procession, they would have discovered that Christie has treated himself to a brand new vehicle. It’s a spanking new Lexus sedan that sells for $88,000 in the US and surely must be $130,000 landed here.
If fully equipped, this luxury chariot would have heated leather seats and all the accoutrements that one would expect for a prime minister who has fancy places to go and rich foreigners to see and be seen with.
Surely, the Prime Minister must also have acquired a car of equal or greater prestige for the Governor General. It would be unthinkable for the head of government to be riding around in luxurious circumstances while the head of state rides on the cheap.
But back to the Lexus. Never mind that we are as bruck as the 10 Commandments. And never mind that there was probably nothing wrong with the fleet of official cars available to the Prime Minister, including a top-of-the line Mercedes just five years old. The care and maintenance of the fleet – including the PM’s cars – is handled by the Police Force, so meticulously looked after that you would hardly be able to tell that one was too old to be of service to Christie.
Lost on the Prime Minister is the fact that many of the people he leads go to Miami to look for a used car to buy, and their budget can’t afford something as “new” as five years old.
The optics of all of this spending at this time is pretty bad for Christie who used to style himself a man of the people. The people are beginning to see where their VAT money has probably gone, and it has nothing to do with what Michael Halkitis wants us to believe.
Take one new Lexus at $130,000. Add in travel and a big bash for the British judges and their staff at a conservative $500,000. Then there was the party and gift for Sir Sidney Poitier that he attended by video link from California at another $150,000. And let’s not forget all the showing off Christie did for the President of Guyana. That will come in around $500,000 when you consider overtime for public officers, etc. And you know the Beach Soccer tournament and the United Nations conference must have cost us a little something, let’s say another $250,000 each.
That’s almost $2m in unnecessary spending in the space of a few weeks this year. And it’s all after we got downgraded to junk investment status meaning the money we will borrow to pay for this extravagance will now cost us more in interest.
Christie’s problem, according to the Androsians, is that he got big eye but he pocket bruck. And he doesn’t care tuppence what we think.
March 18, 2017.