‘No U-Turn’ For Relays Pullout

Michael Mathieu completes the anchor leg as the Bahamas wins gold in the mixed 4x400 at the IAAF World Relays in 2017.

Michael Mathieu completes the anchor leg as the Bahamas wins gold in the mixed 4x400 at the IAAF World Relays in 2017.


Tribune Chief Reporter


PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis firmly backed the government’s decision to pull out of hosting the International Amateur Athletic Federation’s (IAAF) World Relays, citing the need to prioritise the government’s economic and social initiatives.

Saying the Bahamian people have accepted the recent increase in value added tax, Dr Minnis told media at a Saturday press briefing the cancellation was final.

But last night, Official Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis said he was “distressed” by the decision, adding the government is gradually but deliberately “seeking to destroy this country’s reputation as a country whose word is its bond.” He urged the Minnis administration to reconsider the decision.

On Saturday, Dr Minnis suggested it was now time for the private sector to sponsor sporting events.

“We have hosted the IAAF on three different occasions,” he said after returning to the country from a CARICOM meeting, “and we have proven to be great hosts. We have proven that we can host great international events. We think it’s time now that the business and the commercial sector sponsor these events.

“We have a lot of work to do. We just increased value added tax from 7.5 percent to 12 percent – the people have accepted that. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of programmes to implement. We have scholarships to deal with, trying to uplift our people, trying to go to a paperless system, we must place priorities.”

When asked if there had been any consultation with the private sector ahead of the cancellation, Dr Minnis said: “Believe me, we would have done all whatever is possible, but I must first and foremost look after the Bahamian people and the country.”

Controversy over the cancellation of the major sporting event, slated for May 10-11, 2019 could be considered as the first hurdle for new Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle - whose appointment to the post has been met with criticism by the sporting and culture community.

On Saturday, Dr Minnis defended the Mrs Rolle’s appointment, insisting ministers develop requisite experience over the course of their tenure. Mrs Rolle served as minister of social services and urban development until being moved as part of a Cabinet shuffle last week.

“Individuals are moved and they become knowledgeable in certain things,” he said. “There is no so-called pre-training before you engage in a post. You learn and you become very good. I was not pre-trained or attend any courses to become prime minister.

“(Minister of Education) Jeff Lloyd did not attend any courses or was pre-trained to become minister of education nor was (Foreign Affairs Minister Darren) Henfield. You go in, you read, you understand, and many instances you become better than who was there, sometimes you’re not.”

Former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Michael Pintard was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It was noted on Saturday Mr Pintard held a master’s degree in agriculture. Dr Minnis dismissed the notion that ministries impacted by his Cabinet shuffle would face any considerable setbacks.

“What background I had before I became PM? Give me the book to read, I haven’t seen it yet. Ingraham didn’t leave it, Pindling didn’t leave it, nor did Christie,” Dr Minnis said, referring to the country’s former prime ministers.

“You must remember there is a Cabinet team,” he said, “there is a team, so even though an individual is minister or prime minster, things are discussed.”

In a statement, Mr Davis expressed displeasure that the event, which was launched during the Christie administration, has been cancelled.

“The explanation given that they cannot afford it because they are committed to fiscal discipline is certainly sophistry,” Mr Davis noted. “They can’t be serious. They are really carrying this campaign narrative which they invented to lie to the Bahamian people to get elected too far.

“The country’s reputation will suffer. The brand is shot to pieces. The young people have lost an opportunity to showcase their talents to the world on their home turf. What a shame this is. The country has lost the opportunity to showcase the Bahamas as a world class destination -- the event is televised live around the world and replayed several times during the interval before the next relays. I think they ought to reconsider this decision,” Mr Davis said.

Dr Minnis spoke to the press at the Lynden Pindling International Airport as he returned from the 39th CARICOM Heads of Government conference in Jamaica.

As Independence Day approaches, Dr Minnis also reiterated his ten-year vision for the country. He underscored his commitment to enforcing the retirement age across the public sector, the development of an efficient technology-driven society, and to eradicate corruption.

“I would like to see the young people…60 percent of our young people are less than 35 years old, and I would like to see the young people elevated to the top and given that opportunity to take us to a new level.

“We are in the digital era, most of our young people are in the digital era, they must be given an opportunity.

“My goal is to see a digital Bahamas where one ministry can speak to the other via computer. You can do things just with the touch of a button as opposed to moving from one ministry to another taking three to four months for things to be done.”

Dr Minnis added: “I’m looking for a more efficient and a non-corrupt society although that’s very difficult, efficiency yes but to stamp out corruption totally is very, very difficult.”


HonestTruth 5 months, 1 week ago

There isn’t a single person in the stands of the background used in the supporting picture for this article. The stadium would be at maybe 15% of their capacity for these games, utter waste of money.


John 5 months, 1 week ago

There are no stands in that pic..shows you know little or nothing about the stadium. The stands would be on the left and on the right of the runners shown and not visible in this photo. In the background would be the pit for the long jump and the welcome center where the athletes enter the track to line up for the races. And the flag poles.


BahamaRed 5 months, 1 week ago

Maybe that's the issue with this country. Everyone in charge has no experience or training. Maybe UB needs to offer political science as a major, and all aspiring politicians would benefit from one or two political science courses.

I have long said we would be better off if our aspiring politicians actually were trained in politics instead of just deciding to up and run for office cause they want to grandstand or come from a political party.

Gone are the days when you could just come up through the ranks. The world has changed, we need trained government and not the randomly appointed crony.

But eh.... that's my two cents


DDK 5 months, 1 week ago

Two very good cents! Now if we could only come up a course that successfully teaches anti-corruption to the trained ones!


stislez 5 months, 1 week ago

Who are these people who accepted this value added tax doe? Dis man saying that like he dont hear the cry of the people........jah kno!


geostorm 5 months, 1 week ago

#Dr Minnis added: “I’m looking for a more efficient and a non-corrupt society although that’s very difficult, efficiency yes but to stamp out corruption totally is very, very difficult.”

Doc, you have your hands full Sir! Corruption is deeply embedded in our society and will take years to remove. I wish you well. I long for the day when are daily operation as a country is void of corruption.

Mr. Davis, I wish you would just keep your mouth shut. You are a poor example of leadership. You had your turn and did absolutely nothing but sit by and allow corruption to destroy our beautiful country. Your corrupt government is the reason why Doc Minnis has to make such hard financial decisions to keep us on track. Please go away!!


birdiestrachan 5 months, 1 week ago

Doc is living in a fools paradise. Where did he get the idea that the Bahamian people have accepted the VAT increase, Hell No the Bahamian people are mad. as hell you have forced it upon us. In the mean time you travel all of the place with a small army.

Doc still have those who believe his lies about corruption and stolen money, It is all right there were many who believed Hitler's lies and Jim Jones lies even unto death,


birdiestrachan 5 months, 1 week ago

To listen to the lies of doc. Does he know corruption starts with lies. ? he even lies when he says the Bahamian people have accepted VAT. Why tell a Lie like that. it is not necessary To the lies just add a fool of the highest order,


ThisIsOurs 5 months, 1 week ago

"but I must first and foremost look after the Bahamian people and the country.”"

He means look after the 60% of the VOTING populace between 18 and 35 as he's stated on multiple occasions. The rest of y'all find another country


birdiestrachan 5 months, 1 week ago

how old is doc should he be put out to pasture? and the young people he mentions take over. Is he serious about looking out for the Bahamian people, when he increases the cost of living if that is his way of looking out for the people it means he has lost it.


gbgal 5 months, 1 week ago

Cut your coat according to your cloth! The country cannot afford to host and for once the decision is reflected by the budget constraints. Finally, good sense.


DaGoobs 5 months, 1 week ago

My late father told me many times about taking care of my needs in preference to taking care of my wants. While I would like for the Bahamas to continue to host the IAAF Relays every year or two forever and ever, it is a want and not a must-have. As a small country, some of us have the shoe on the wrong foot if they believe it's okay for the government to shell out $5 million or more a time in order to play host to this event every time it pops up on the IAAF's calendar. Even with free admission to the morning sessions, Bahamians are not supporting the Relays in any great numbers as attested by the scores of empty seats during the morning and evening sessions. It's painful to see all these empty seats on TV but facts are facts. Also the lack of any accounting or income and expense reports for any of the 3 Relays that we did host so far does not augur well for the future. The public has a right to know how its money was spent on the 3 previous Relays, the specifics of the arrangements with the IAAF and what we got in return for our money. The government dumped the local Junkanoo Carnival or Carnival this year because it was carrying all of the cost and the private sector stepped in, took on the cost and no one missed a step. The event went on without government money. So why can't the BAAA do the same thing and find their own $5 million sponsors if they believe that Bahamians have to have the Relays in their own back yard every time it is held? Even the Olympics didn't stay in Greece all their life but now get hosted by other countries.


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