There is often talk about trying to get The Bahamas to emulate Singapore as a financial success story – but for those dreaming of such things, the words of Gregory Pepin, of Deltec Bank & Trust, are an awakening. A rude one at that.
He dismisses such talk as being as ridiculous as dreaming of becoming a Manchester United in English football terms when in reality you are a Dover Athletic. Who are they? Well, that’s the point. We are not anywhere close to the big league, says Mr Pepin.
It’s hard to argue with him – with the ease of doing business in The Bahamas having long been an obstacle, and the difficulty of trying to generate investment.
He also pointedly refers to the major service providers – BPL, Cable Bahamas and BTC – as “a joke” for their unreliable or costly services.
Some will bridle at such criticisms, but we know our own problems. It’s not as if we have been able to count on reliable electricity as a constant, for example. At the weekend, there were two major power outages in New Providence, one of them island-wide.
You can’t appeal to major investors and say come and build your empire here and then say oh, but our power supply is unreliable.
Time and again, we hear stories of investors finding it difficult to cut through red tape. Where is the investor culture to help people start businesses? Where is the information exchange between fellow entrepreneurs to help develop a different outlook, and to learn from one another to help everyone grow?
Where, for that matter, is the money being put down by the government to encourage financial training, development of essential skills and more? That money is like planting a seed, in the hope it will grow and bring new life to the economy. Instead? We can’t even give out student loan money because previous students haven’t paid theirs back.
So it’s a harsh truth we hear from Mr Pepin – but it’s a truth nonetheless. If we want to play in the big leagues, we have to make changes.
A scam, not an investment
FAMOUSLY, the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute” is associated with one of the greatest showmen of all time, PT Barnum. Ironically enough, he never did actually say those words.
For those who do prey on suckers, however, or the gullible or worse, those in desperate need, there is never a shortage of schemes that can be used.
The Securities Commission has warned, yet again, of the danger of Ponzi and pyramid schemes. What are they? They’re schemes that promise a big payout for a small investment. They generally require people to recruit two others (or more) to join the scheme. That’s why they call it a pyramid – because starting at the person at the top, the base keeps getting wider, and the money flows from those below to those above. The trouble is, there reaches a point where you cannot get enough people to expand the base – even if you had the whole planet investing. That’s when the money runs out, tempers get frayed, promises get broken and the whole scheme falls apart.
Such schemes rearing their very ugly head again at a time when so many are short of money is even worse. These schemes capitalise on people’s desperation. When you have only $200 to feed your family and someone tells you how you can turn that into $2,400, of course people at the sharp end are going to hold onto hope that it works out for them.
Sadly, the truth is that these schemes always end with more out of pocket. They end friendships. They cause fights.
There’s an old saying and it holds as much truth in it today as it ever did – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t be a sucker, and don’t fall for these scams.