The bid by Bahamas Hot Mix to raise up to $750m in cheap British government loans is certainly an eye-catching one.
Not once but twice did the company – one of the foremost in its field in The Bahamas – try to access British loans that would have strengthened its hand in sealing projects here on our shores.
The idea is quite clever – the company used its British subsidiary, BHM Construction International (UK) Ltd, to qualify for financing from UK Export Finance.
That is a fund in place to help British companies compete internationally for the services and products they offer. For BHM, their UK division would qualify them for funds that could be used back here in The Bahamas by the parent company.
Of course, in return for securing such investment, BHM was hoping to be chosen as the main contractor on any infrastructure projects financed by the proposal.
As it is, both the current FNM and the previous PLP governments passed on the proposed projects – but here’s a question.
Why did it take an individual business to go and seek out such funds if they are available? If money is available in a pot that can be used for projects here in The Bahamas, why isn’t the government themselves going and lining it up for businesses that qualify here?
It’s no small sum that BHM lined up - $750m could make a huge difference in a host of projects. Surely the Ministry of Finance ought to know about such available funds, and how Bahamian companies might be able to make use of them.
If it takes a UK-based company to be able to apply for them, then the government should be encouraging local companies to open UK subsidiaries to access such funding.
Did the Embassy in the UK know about BHM’s approach and assist them in the process? If not, ought they not to know about such opportunities and strive to both make Bahamas businesses aware of them and support them each step of the way?
In short, are we missing a trick? One that BHM did not miss.
And if we’re missing this trick, what others are passing us by? Are there opportunities for our students? Our young entrepreneurs?
For many, the focus from this news will be the expectation that BHM might have had that in the wake of gaining such funding, it would have had the lion’s share of construction work. BHM could have further cornered the market should this have gone ahead. It didn’t, for whatever reason, but that won’t stop people who use BHM as a political punching bag taking it for another round.
But perhaps what we should be looking at is what else is out there that could help our businesses – and just why it is that it’s a company that found this opportunity, instead of the government forging a path to help us all.
Young athletes have been let down
It must have been heart-breaking.
The nation’s under-18 boys water polo team took part at the 28th Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation in Barbados last week – and the boys shone.
So good were they that they reached the final. A gold medal was in their sights. And then… it wasn’t. The team did not have the funds to stay another day – so home they came, unable to stay and contest the gold medal.
Algernon Cargill, president of the Bahamas Aquatics Federation, is full of bluster saying the government is not to blame for the boys’ early return. Shadow minister for sports Picewell Forbes is also quick to point fingers for the premature end. Neither one’s comments will help the boys turn back time so they can compete.
So rather than get tangled up in the blame game, let’s welcome the returning team as the gold medal heroes they might have been. Let’s celebrate them regardless. Bring them to Government House. Bring them to the PM’s office. Let’s applaud them at this year’s Independence events.
And then let us make sure this never happens to them – or any other athlete - ever again.