By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ first national address of 2020 was a “fake report” showing government is completely detached from reality, Opposition leader Philip Davis said yesterday.
Mr Davis hit back at major points of Dr Minnis’ televised speech and branded it “another campaign effort to tenuously hold on to power”.
Meanwhile, Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper urged Bahamians to “stay woke,” insisting Dr Minnis had only made “grandiose” campaign promises in the address. When he spoke at Parliament yesterday, Mr Cooper pointed to Dr Minnis’ recent campaign launch, saying as it was now campaign season, “politicians talk any number of things”.
The Free National Movement’s campaign for the 2022 election launched last month at what was billed as a town-hall meeting, prompting a critical response from the Progressive Liberal Party.
“The prime minister’s fantasy pronouncements (nearly) six months after Dorian in his national address are a dollar short and a day late, similar to his planning, management and execution of this natural disaster,” Mr Davis said in a press statement.
“His address was just another campaign effort to tenuously hold onto power. Much like his recent fake town hall meeting, which was really a campaign rally, this is a fake report with the prime minister engaged in self congratulation and back patting while labouring to sugarcoat the grim reality of post-Dorian life for most Bahamians in lies, broken promises, incompetence, meanness and failed leadership.
“From his address, the prime minister clearly lives in a parallel universe, detached from the Bahamian reality and experience.
“The source of the deception on the international pledges was not mischief makers, but the prime minister himself who sought to intentionally mislead the Bahamian people by conflating loans with donations. Further, the government has failed to accurately account for the amount of financial donations received to date and how these funds were expended.
“As for the economy, the prime minister must not use taxpayer’s dollars to perpetrate untruthful propaganda. The PLP did not mismanage the economy and as a matter of fact, the economy the PLP left in place in May 2017 allowed them to secure loan offers of $3b just months after coming to office. This over subscription of government bonds placement exposed the FNM campaign lie that the country was left bankrupt by the PLP.”
In his national address, Dr Minnis announced a March 2 date for the signing of a Heads of Agreement for the sale of the Grand Lucayan in Grand Bahama and revealed a $300m project for South Abaco. He accused the PLP of leaving public finances in a disastrous state and borrowing money in large amounts. They also misspent in large amounts, the prime minister said.
Dr Minnis said his administration had to stabilise the country’s finances through honesty and discipline.
But according to Mr Davis, before the PLP was voted out of office in 2017, the party left in place an economy that has allowed the FNM government to go on a borrowing binge with no tangible results to show for the billions borrowed and spent.
Mr Davis added that what the prime minister proclaimed on Tuesday night contradicted the facts on the ground as observed by the PLP on a recent fact-finding tour in Grand Bahama and Abaco.
“The unbearable stench from scores of unidentified dead bodies still in trailers in Abaco after six months fills the air,” he claimed. “This is disrespectful to the families who have lost loved ones.
“There is simply no excuse for leaving piles of dead bodies in trailers for six months. These are people, who in death deserve dignity and a Christian burial, in line with our values as a people. We may not know their names, but to leave them rotting in trailers is unforgivable. It requires nothing more than a conscience, and a willingness to do the right thing. Piles of Hurricane debris could be seen everywhere six months later.”
Mr Cooper had similar critiques of Dr Minnis’ address.
“Mr Speaker, I noted the prime minister’s address last night (Tuesday),” Mr Cooper told the House of Assembly. “He spoke about the Grand Lucayan resort. He talked about many other things. I want to urge the Bahamian people to remember that the prime minister has indicated that the campaign season has started and during campaign seasons politicians talk any number of things. They make grandiose promises.
“…So I urge the Bahamian people to remember that when the prime minister speaks he is speaking as a prime minister who has declared that campaign season has started. So stay woke. Stay woke Bahamas and stay alert,” Mr Cooper said.