EDITOR, The Tribune.
There is a famous song by a Bahamian entertainer par excellence, my favorite living sibling, Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie, titled: ‘Boy Ya Got Swing’. We all know that song was always relevant, but it will become even more so as we approach yet another electoral cycle.
It would seem to me that each time we come to the proverbial silly season that the entrenched and want to be politicians come out of the woodwork with precision and a dray load of patently bogus promises. It is unfortunate that a large number of overtly gullible Bahamians fall, like dominoes, time and time again for these grab bags.
The Minnis administration has been in power now for almost four years with very little to show in the way of concrete accomplishments. I am sure that it did do something of value, but I am hard pressed to say what it would have been with all charity. The FNM and its erstwhile interim leader made multiple promises leading up to the 2017 general elections while bellowing: “It is the People’s time.” A more humble group of politicians could not be found. Once assuming office, however, Doctor Jekyll came out big time while Mr Hyde did what he does best, he went into hiding and to this very day, he remains in the closet. His name, however, has changed to: ‘The Hidden Hand’.
In recent times a handful of activists led by Adrian Francis and Reverend Lincoln Bain have come out to agitate for natural resources to be “shared” between eligible Bahamians. They have been talking about aragonite and the yet undiscovered oil bonanza in particular. Some amongst them opine without a single piece of scientific data that there are untold multiple millions of dollars of natural resources just waiting to be tapped and the proceeds distributed, annually, to all and sundry without lifting a finger.
This is a dangerous and simplistic posture. Where are the detailed studies to support their contentions? How will these natural resources be mined? What is the value of the same on the local and international markets? Who will put up the huge sums of money to actual commence mining operations? Will the activist and their misguided partisans play a financial and/or technical role therein?
They held a “rally” the other day and a few hundreds turned out. One of the organizers, a very socially media savvy individual, has opined, publicly, if he should run in the next general elections! While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this ambition, it is so sad that the fringes only come out a year or so before general elections.
We all are able to recall that now senator Henfield and his crew used to make all sorts of noise about the necessity of local government for New Providence. Most of the rallies led by him were well attended and very vocal. They got the attention of the media and, eventually the traditional political forces. Henfield demanded that local government for New Providence must be achieved within the first (possibly last) term of a Minnis led administration. I assume that he, et al, had a chat with the power brokers in the FNM for lo and behold they went dead quiet and next thing we knew, following the FNM’s blow out of the Christie led old PLP, Henfield was appointed to the Senate where he remains as quiet as a mouse. Local government is yet an unfulfilled campaign promise.
Minnis, obviously as Minister of Finance, is grasping at straws and chasing massive apparent personal delusions as he seeks to get it right. The economy is in absolute shambles and will not recover anytime soon. Governmental revenues are down to the very bone and getting worse by the minute while Minnis (a/k/a Nero) fiddles and eats his favored stewed fish.
It is clear that the PM is seeking to piggy-back on the agitation being brewed by the activists. He has adopted their battle cry for a Sovereign Wealth Fund hook; line and sinker. I would not be surprised if at least one of the activists is not copped out and recruited by either the FNM or the PLP in short order. We have heard loose talk about this pie in the sky Sovereign Wealth Fund for decades. We did not do anything, however, even when the economy was ticking like a clock, to establish this elusive fund.
Now that the economy has tanked and the average Bahamian is reduced to picking peas out of shaving cream the same man who as the Competent Authority in large measure caused us to be where we are is singing the Sovereign Wealth Fund song! How will this fund be established and who all will actually administer the same? Nobody knows and if they do nobody is talking about it publicly. Nurses and Reservist Police Officers allegedly are owed big bucks, but the government has yet to pay them.
Infrastructure work is being cut back drastically here in New Providence and the major Family Islands due to budgetary constraints. The Minister of State for Finance, not known to be an economic or financial guru has stated bluntly that user fees and possibly taxes will be going up.
The Minister with responsibility for NIB suggested that contributions may have to go up as well. If you are unable to service your BPL account/s dog eat your lunch in the dark or by candle light. Water & Sewerage is right behind. The promise of a Sovereign Wealth Fund sounds dead good and looks even better on paper. The people who should know better are playing a deadly game that only a piper knows how to play.
I have absolutely no faith in the average politician, especially those in office today. The political swingers, if there are any left in The Bahamas, are emerging from out of the wood works and the mushy swamps. My fellow Bahamians, Santa comes but once per year. Do not look to see him again before the launch of the general electoral campaign. Whenever he comes, however, beware of the Sovereign Wealth Fund boon-dangle. If it walks like a duck and sounds like one it is a duck. To God then, in all things, be the glory.
ORTLAND H BODIE Jr
January 17, 2021.