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EDITORIAL: Accusation and counter-accusation over contracts

IT would seem any suggestion of bi-partisanship in politics is long gone.

On Friday, the current administration terminated all current contracts from the Bahamas Public Parks and Beaches Authority – and plenty of blame was pointed at the previous administration for how that authority operated.

In return, the FNM have accused the current administration of breaking the rules of the Public Procurement Act by not publishing details of approved contracts and procurement activities within 60 days of the contract’s award.

For the PLP’s part, the current administration points to a report on the Bahamas Public Parks and Beaches Authority that noted an overspend of tens of millions of dollars and with inconsistencies over the signatures of former executive chairman Shanendon Cartwright.

Some contracts were missing, and forms of identification had not been required.

The FNM has been muted in response, saying it will go through the report line by line before giving a response – but wanting to know when those who had contracts will get paid for the work they did.

In return, FNM leader Michael Pintard is raising his own questions about the contract details for the opening of Parliament and for swearing-in activities. He asked: “How many hotels submitted bids? How much did these activities cost? The public would like to know the cost, the bidding method and the winning bidder for the new Ragged Island airport. The public would like to know the selection method for the decorations in downtown Nassau, and how many bids were received, who won the bid and what was the price.”

This tit-for-tat politics is about as far away from any spirit of unity that might have been suggested.

The public would indeed like to know how its money is being used – by all sides. And we want to know that the appropriate checks and processes are being followed when that money is used.

The bickering over this party did this wrong while in office, while that party is doing something else wrong now it is in office doesn’t seem to get us anywhere.

Transparency is exactly what is needed – in all things, at all levels in government, and also on the campaign trail.

How close are we to getting that transparency? Looking at this to and fro, a long way off indeed.

COVID rising

The latest COVID figures are showing another rise in cases. The numbers on December 16, 17 and 18 were 39, 37 and 41 new cases respectively. That’s sharply up from just a few days earlier.

With travel increasing and the country seeing both returning Bahamians and tourists arriving for the Christmas period, it is perhaps unsurprising that we are seeing an increase in cases too. The omicron variant that has been spreading rapidly across Europe and the US is more than likely here now too. It spreads more easily – and though it appears to have milder symptoms, we should not take it lightly.

The ending of the health visa for returning Bahamians has removed one check on travellers, while FNM leader Michael Pintar asked why COVID ambassadors have been removed from the airport.

Even with those measures, though, the extent to which the US is experiencing a new wave at present was always going to be felt on these shores.

So take care, follow the safety steps of wearing a mask, using sanitiser and keeping your distance, and stay healthy for the holidays.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 6 months, 2 weeks ago

What exactly does the health visa for returning Bahamians do? Im curious. To get on a plane back home, those people still have to take a PCR test. So by the most stringent standard possible they will be deemed to be COVID negative before entering the country.

Please someone explain what the travel visa adds to the process? Because we know for sure that nobody checked the 6000 visas for the travellers who arrived over the weekend. All they did was collect data for email campaigns. Thats it.

As to contact tracing. If any one of these passengers turns up positive, they are interviewed and asked for a history of their movements. One question being did you travel. So what does the health visa add?

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Alan1 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The Health Visa's purposes are twofold- first it is a tax on visitors entering the country and secondly the Minister says it is for gathering data! It basically has nothing to do with "Health" matters. It has successfully turned away a lot of visitors who can go nearly everywhere else in the Caribbean and Central America without all the hassles we place on visitors. Why bother going through all the expensive time consuming hassles when they can go elsewhere?The Bahamian people are the big losers yet the new Minister is keeping it on for international visitors. We will never recover our pre-Covid totals. . People who came here before are going to other places now.

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