By Malcolm Strachan
WITH the year 2018 wrapping up, it is quite normal to evaluate how the government has performed throughout the year. Naturally, those opposed to the government take advantage of the opportunity to tell their compatriots, “I told you so”, and supporters loyally defend their party, for better or worse. Likewise, there are those on the fence who may give the benefit of the doubt as they are only two years into a five-year contract with the Bahamian people.
The question quite obviously becomes: “How much time is too much for the government to prove it was the right choice on election day?”
While the government certainly has no qualms about talking itself up, the proof is in the pudding, and this one has yet to rise, as the government has done itself much more harm than good thus far.
Bahamian governments typically do not get to be judged across the five years promised to them upon being elected. Far from it, the Bahamian people have incredibly short attention spans if they are not won over within the first few years of a term.
It can often be seen the administrations that fell out of favour early on went on to be voted out on election day.
Certainly, we can recall the belief the Progressive Liberal Party had to depart had permeated society halfway through their last term. Subsequently the Bahamian people shut the door on former prime minister Perry Christie, pulling the curtains on his 40-year political career in an emphatically embarrassing fashion.
Fortunately the current administration sit across the aisle from a Progressive Liberal Party the Bahamian people still have great disdain for.
However, while three years is ample time to capture the hearts of the Bahamian people, it is also sufficient to seal one’s political fate and hand the country back to an opposition party waiting in the wings.
The mistake the Minnis administration continues to make is to have a complete lack of accountability.
Most recently, their repeal of the Business Licence Act amendments - vehemently rebuked by the business community for onerous conditions, particularly on small businesses – ran counter to Prime Minister Minnis’ pledge to make it easier for Bahamian people to do business. Adding insult to injury, the government heralded their repeal as a measure of goodwill to the Bahamian people.
This position was laughable, as most right-thinking people saw this latest fumble as a result of the government’s hard-headedness.
Far too often, they seek to pander to the electorate as if we are of low intelligence and won’t be insulted by being consistently patronised. That is far from the truth.
The Bahamian people voted the Free National Movement to govern the country as a rejection of the same outdated school of thought.
Information sharing among the electorate has grown to epic levels with the proliferation of social media and as Bahamians become more tech savvy. Online activism has also been encouraging citizens to form opinions on national issues and voice them within digital communities.
No longer will party politics continue to doom our country’s prospects. And it is because leaders continue to underestimate the quiet revolution taking place that the walls of this archaic system will eventually come tumbling down.
Certainly, the Minnis administration’s resume - while still a work in progress - has not done enough to win the favour of the majority of the Bahamian people. This much has been quantified by marketing research company Public Domain, which revealed the increasing dissatisfaction with the government this year.
It would hardly be a surprise if the populace was surveyed today and showed increased disenchantment with the Minnis administration.
Possibly biting off more than they can chew, the government promised the Bahamian people the earth, moon and stars – all while still blundering through the most minute matters of governance.
The prime minister dragging his feet on the promised probe into BPL, the government’s inability to decrease electricity costs and make good on its campaign promise to solarise the country, increasing VAT, poor negotiations on their purchase of the Grand Lucayan – and the list can go on – all will potentially come back to haunt this administration.
In the final analysis, the reality is three years are still left in this term. And as nightmarish as the prospect of this government trending downwards may be, we should all be hopeful there is some master plan guiding them.
Thankfully, as the year comes to an end, renewal is on the horizon. As Parliament breaks, it is our hope this administration returns refreshed with their sleeves rolled up ready to shepherd the country to greener pastures.
Undoubtedly, a repeat of 2018, while it could have been a lot worse, surely cannot be afforded if the Minnis administration wants to even be considered as a viable option in the next election.
Whether that approach is practical or not, it is just how the Bahamian people operate.