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Insight: We Desperately Need A New Leadership Alternative

Changing leadership - with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest next to their predecessors, Perry Christie and Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, but has the Bahamian electorate been provided with real change? Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

Changing leadership - with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest next to their predecessors, Perry Christie and Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, but has the Bahamian electorate been provided with real change? Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

By MALCOLM STRACHAN

AS we brace ourselves for the impending reality of increased taxes, the government’s confirmation that it will proceed with the 4.5 percent VAT hike has left many Bahamians feeling disheartened. While the likelihood that they would have come back this week more amenable to consultation after having heard the public uproar was low, many people still had hope.

However, as fate would have it, the Bahamian people would have no such luck. The minister of finance is seemingly unbending on his plan to balance the budget in three years notwithstanding the cost to the populace and his political future.

He and the prime minister swear by this being the best move for The Bahamas, even if it is not the best move for Bahamians. Many see this as a crushing blow to the economic growth we experienced last year, with consumer purchasing power likely to be severely contracted in a matter of a few weeks.

Bitterness pervades the archipelago. Yet, we all must recognise that we did not have to be here.

The last election was one where the general feelings of anger, resentment, disappointment and exhaustion led us to vote out the Progressive Liberal Party. While the incoming government was welcomed with open arms, the Bahamian people were adamant that they did not want another dose of Perry Gladstone Christie.

Former Democratic National Alliance Leader Branville McCartney, who was at times a viable consideration for the next prime minister, arguably ruined the chances of his party becoming the next government when he accepted a position in the Senate from Loretta Butler-Turner during her brief stint as Opposition Leader.

As history would soon record, the DNA, for a second straight election, did not win any seats. Although some of their candidates’ messaging resonated with some voters, the chance for the PLP winning the election was too great to gamble away votes.

Now here we are a year later, in a situation McCartney would have described in picture perfect fashion in the lead-up to the election: “The PLP and the FNM, they are two sides of the same coin.”

Ironically enough, where this government promised transparency, we’ve been met with more secrecy. Where we were promised good governance and accountability, we have continually seen the politicisation of issues and blaming of the former administration. We were promised a vision, but the government continues to show us that they lack a cohesive plan. Perhaps most disappointing is that we were promised that it was the “people’s time”, yet the poor people, while gaining tax relief on some breadbasket items, will still incur taxes across the rest of the spectrum.

It feels as though the Bahamian people have been bamboozled again.

Though, if we give the government the benefit of the doubt and accept that they feel they are doing the best thing for the people of The Bahamas, does it not show a grave disconnect between the populace and the supposed “people’s time” government?

We have arrived at a point as a people where we’ve become so accepting of abuse. Preposterously, citizens among us serve as de facto publicists - explaining away the government’s errors. How is it that we hear more from ‘Joe Public’ regarding the prime minister’s contradictory statements on taxation than the man who made the assertions himself?

Make no mistake, we are where we are as a nation for much of our own folly. Surely, the manner in which we vote has lowered the standard of our political leaders – flip-flopping between two parties every five years.

While having a few other viable options would be beneficial for the electorate, it would still not be enough. Truthfully, the citizenry has impeded its own growth in this regard, as we have proliferated nonsensical ideals like those found in staunch party supporters.

No doubt, the FNM has greatly decreased its chances of being a two-term government by its decision to increase VAT to 12%. Even though, the three-year plan to balance the budget a year before an election year will arm them with a victory and the funds to spend wildly in campaign mode, the disdain for this government grows by the moment. These strong feelings towards the government captures the pain and suffering the Bahamian people have experienced since The Great Recession.

The FNM’s 2017 election slogan, “the people’s time”, was music to the ears of many that wanted to feel hope. The forgotten in society felt, for the first time in a long time, as though the tides were about to turn and life would be better. All things considered, while he lacked many soft skills, the sentiments that the prime minister rose up from the inner city endeared him to the downtrodden.

Now, people feel as though they were manipulated by the prime minister.

The betrayal that the Bahamian people feel is so strong that it can make us dangerously emotional. Undoubtedly, it is this betrayal that the Progressive Liberal Party, who have yet to make any steps to reform its party, are banking on to recapture the government in 2022.

Certainly, in their current iteration, the Bahamian people want no part of them. However, where does that leave the electorate? The DNA has not been able to remain relevant enough throughout a five-year period for the majority of Bahamians to consider them as a worthwhile option.

While some personalities in the nation’s third party are greatly respected, the 2022 election will likely meet Bahamians who have some of the same fears with regard to how they vote. Whoever is the alternative to the nation’s two longest existing parties will have to engage the people as soon as possible to have a chance.

They have to insert themselves into the national conversation and share their ideas with the country – even at the cost of the government or Opposition stealing them. Without a doubt, this is necessary for the DNA, or any other political faction with aspirations of forming the next government.

Likewise, we, the Bahamian people have to break our mindsets of political allegiance. We must understand that great change will require an even greater leap going forward. Surely, one thing we can be certain of is that more of the same produces just that - more of the same.

Assuredly, if we continue to vote in the two schools of thought that we’ve seen over the last 40 odd years, we will continue to have the same type of leadership where we feel we’re on the outside looking in.

While we wade through the rough waters that may lie ahead, let us do so with a goal in mind to create a better future for ourselves and our children in 2022.

Will the nation’s next leaders please stand up?

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

The minister of finance is seemingly unbending on his plan to balance the budget in three years notwithstanding the cost to the populace and his political future.

Mr. Strachan, if Bahamians believe the above quote from your article, then all hope for us is forevermore lost. Turnquest and Minnis are bold faced liars alike, with no respect for the Bahamian people despite their great pretense otherwise. They are both incompetent and would have you believe that they know what's best for us and our country. In fact they don't have a clue about what's best for Bahamians and the Bahamas. For them it's now all about their political survival for as long as possible, and to hell with what is right for us voters and our country. In other words, they are no different than Christie and Halkitis were during the last PLP government. We must stop thinking the PLP and FNM parties will ever give us reputable, hard working, competent and honest candidates for elected office who value country and fellow Bahamians over self. We, the voters, must encourage the right type of independent candidates to throw their hat in the political ring and then support them in order to root out the nonsense and corruption behind populist candidates nominated by the PLP and FNM parties.

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birdiestrachan 2 months ago

No doubt the PLP Government made mistakes. But this FNM Government that Strachan promoted are the biggest liars on the face of God's green earth. Even Mr: Dupuch wrote that some of the PLP representatives were good members of the house , Your crew Strachan are just plain liars and be sure to add DUMB, DUMB..

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DaGoobs 2 months ago

Well Strachan if in 4 years the FNM's financial plan is successful, what will you say then? This is the best time to take bad tasting medicine because if they are right and successful with it, people like you will be commending them for having had the intestinal fortitude to do what they are doing. Better to do these things in the first years of an administration than wait until the end and expect people's understanding. Ask Hubert Ingraham with the financial services legislation and then the roads.

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birdiestrachan 2 months ago

VAT hurts poor people. the people who can afford it the least. How can they forget the pain.?? especially when many of them believed the FNM Government VAT would be no more

Now doc and Turnquest all over the place spinning, lying and placing blame. By the way where are the bitter old women FNM women. the Pats and others. what about the poor?? They are the ones who will suffer.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

A friend pointed out to me that in some ways Christie is less dangerous than Minnis. I.e. Christie at least likes to have smart people around.

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John 2 months ago

The fact is modern day slavery still exists and all who sit as prime ministers are chief house negroes and not de facto leaders. And even as a boy still in school listening to the budget, one would hear all the concessions and exemptions given to foreign owned businesses while taxes were continuously being heaped on Bahamians. And when Pindling told Bahamians to leave the farms and the fishing boats and the Family Islands and come to Nassau or go to Freeport and get jobs in the hotels, or the tourist industry, your new plantations. Whenever anything was mentioned about ownership everyone got offended. Slaves have jobs and they may buy their freedom but they don’t own nothing. And today it is difficult for Bahamians to become financially free because the cost of living is continuously increasing. And many companies have come to The Bahamas, made hundreds of millions and sold out or closed shop, leaving millions in unpaid taxes, utilities and employee benefits. Not only were Bahamians working basically for free but the sudden ‘crowding ‘ in Nassau and Freeport help to create a breakdown in traditional Bahamian society, population erosion on the Family Islands, the loss of farmers and fishermen that helped the country feed itself, a crime situation that is getting increasingly violent and increasingly out of control. And a National Debt that continues to snowball even on the hottest of Bahamian summer days. And since Bahamians alone are solely responsible for this debt it is the clearest declaration of ‘You are not free, We (creditors) own you. We owned your forefathers and you have slops yourselves, your children and your descendants for generations to come into financial slavery.’ So while millions come to The Bahamias to seek Paradise and financial prosperity, you catch eternal hell. Look at you: still building bricks of mortar and clay. Still nothing but a slave.

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ashley14 2 months ago

unfortunately your right.

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OldFort2012 2 months ago

Astounding that anyone can hold such views.

Yes it, was "foreigners" who forced us to run budget deficits every year since independence to date, while before independence there was not a single year the budget was in deficit.

Yes, it was "foreigners" who forced us to borrow every year to cover these deficits.

Yes. it was "foreigners" who forced us to work for higher wages than we ever had before.

It is racist foreigners who now insist we pay back our debts instead of forgiving those debts because...we Black!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

And most of us John would rather be a slave to anyone but your two good friends, His Royal Highness King Sebas and his sidekick Sir Craig. These two low-life punks continue to expand the tentacles of their criminal empires with the attitude that they shall one day rightly rule supreme over all Bahamians. Can you imagine that day! We desperately need to shutdown these low-life thugs while we can and this can best be accomplished by now establishing a tax-free national lottery with the understanding that all profits generated from it would go towards defraying the costs of our public education and public healthcare systems.

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John 2 months ago

Foreigners come into your country and they rule over you. They rise higher and higher, while you slump lower and lower. They make you the tail and not the head. You are borrowers and not lenders. They will lend to you but you will not lend to them.

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OldFort2012 2 months ago

I'll help you out, John. You can lend me as much money as you like.

There, feel better?

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sheeprunner12 2 months ago

Malcolm Strachan needs to run for Parliament in 2022 .............. SMH

The Minnis Cabinet will prove themselves worthy in time .......... but ALL Bahamians must swallow this bitter pill now, as they have already eaten the fat of the land and gotten sick (pun intended).

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DDK 2 months ago

...and this bitter pill will make MANY Bahamians sicker than they already are. The thing is, suppose we accept this ferocious tax treatment and things don't improve. Are we not like North Korea with the U.S.of A? A great MATTER OF TRUST.

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birdiestrachan 2 months ago

Sheeprunner how can they prove themselves worthy when they lie for every thing If their mouths are open they are telling lies . Only a real fool will believe anything that comes out of their mouths. They have lost all credibility. They lied to the poor Bahamian people about VAT. Turnquest said he will ease their pain. By

killing them with VAT.?? and doc now sees himself as a savior who will save the Bahamas, From what doc??. the judge says they are eating their words. They are telling one lie after the other.

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DDK 2 months ago

EXCELLENT insight. Just when we saw a bit of light at the end of the tunnel they pulled the rug out from under us. Whether this Government succeeds with its draconian tax increase for the "good of Country" or fails miserably, it is definitely time for the formation of The People's Party who must acknowledge that the downfall of our Country is due to the poor governance, corruption and greed, of both former FNM and PLP Governments and roll out a plan to heal and improve out country. It won't be easy, given our collective bad habits, but this country needs real change in order to survive in this day and age....

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OldFort2012 2 months ago

C'mon DDK. How can you be so naive? It's nothing to do with our abysmal level of education, our non-existent work ethic or our corrupt, incompetent and inefficient system of government.

It's exclusively to do with a foreign conspiracy because they are racist. How can you not be convinced by John's eloquence and obviously perfect analysis of the situation?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

Exercise care in gooseying poor John......there are many days he simply forgets to take his prescribed meds that help him keep his paranoia under control.

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DDK 2 months ago

Concur with your first paragraph, excluding the naïve bit, old fort. The foreign racist conspiracy bit is confusing though. I was referring to the insight of the article's author, Mr. Strachan, not John!

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OldFort2012 2 months ago

I know. Just taking the piss out of the hapless John. I agree with everything you wrote.

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sealice 2 months ago

THESE DAMN POLITICIAN JOBS NEED TO BE TREATED LIKE GARDENING JOBS (OUR PRESENT HAITIANS ISSUE) IN THE 1970'S.... LETS JUST BRING IN FOREIGNERS AS THIS WILL COST A HELL OF A LOT LESS THEN HIRING BAHAMIANS AND THE JOB WILL BE DONE QUICKER AND BETTER WITHOUT NEAR AS MUCH WHINING AND COMPLAINING.....

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CatIslandBoy 2 months ago

While I agree with the majority of Bahamians that the proposed VAT increase will be painful to many Bahamians, especially those who could least afford any increase to their cost of living, I have yet to hear of possible alternatives being suggested by the Naysayers. Other than hurling invectives and insults at those empowered to fix our economy, we should be offering up alternative models to raise the necessary revenue. It appears to me that no matter what the government does to address our dire situation, they will never please many amongst. If they tackle the bloated Civil Service, they are called heartless; if they begin a review of the public corporations for possible cost-cutting, they are attacked and the country is threatened by the Unions; and if they raise taxes, they are just plain Liars, ignorant, and clueless. I want to hear my fellow-bloggers plans/suggestions for fixing our financial situations. Anybody, bird-brains and all and sundry, can complain and hurl insults, but where are the patriots with the wisdom, knowledge, and foresight? It's your time to speak up. Put up or shut up, and let grown folks handle the country's affairs.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

You're so right...we fell for their campaign promises and then elected them to do what they now claim to be the impossible. Therefore all of us should just shut up and let the "grown folks" tax us to death while they go about continuing to grow the size of the public sector. Go figure!

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Porcupine 2 months ago

Cat Island, There is the way of a Christian alternative. That is progressive taxation. To understand both the ethics and the particulars of these very real solutions, one would have to spend a few hours a week at minimum to grasp and then to be able to teach about this way of thinking. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming capitulation of our educational system, media, churches, politicians to those who continue to cheer lead for neoliberal solutions to human problems there seem to be few among us who are even able to grasp the basics. One has to understand the history of economic thinking, the history of taxation, and perhaps an honest understanding of what Christianity really stands for. Most of us are not only Naysayers, we are wholly ignorant about the possible solutions to our problems. It is not just the level of failure of our educational institutions, it is a lack of spark among our population to even want to learn. Like our neighbor to the north, we seem proud of our ignorance, wondering why our society is crumbling around us. If that weren't enough, all indications are that we humans are making the world uninhabitable for our offspring and all life in general. If that is not an indictment of our collective irresponsibility, I don't know what is. As to your last comment, "let the grown folks handle the country's affairs" Haven't they already been doing so, with predictable and sordid results for the rest of us? Many of us do put forth very viable alternatives to the backwards policies suggested by "the grown folks" but it seems our intellectual capacity for even understanding then is waning towards mental retardation. Facebook, social media, spinning, sports and listening to the pastors seems to be the limit of our intellectual progress. There are no grown ups in government at present. And it seems even fewer in the general public to choose from. Put up or shut up is a good way to say that you have no answers yourself and will continue to vote for the grown ups who have made fortunes on the backs of those they swore to represent, while predictably leaving this country in a situation that is untenable.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

I agree that the current regressive taxation regime is infair and therefore unsuitable. But any effort at this point in time to replace it with a progressive income tax regime of the kind found in more developed countries would be like putting dynamite in the hands of the young children whom our CatIslandBoy affectionately refers to as "grown folks".

A 10% VAT with no exemptions could work, but only if accompanied by sustained belt tightening aimed at significantly (and painfully) reducing the size of our grossly over-bloated public services sector by as much as a third or more within the next two to three years at most. And of course the scourge of the criminal empires run by the numbers bosses would have to be dealt with, in part through much higher taxation and the establishment of a completely tax-free National Lottery owned by the government of the day and initially operated by reputable and seasoned foreign lottery experts from Canada or the U.S..

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