FORMER Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
Photo: Austin Fernander
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
FORMER prime minister Hubert Ingraham has described the Davis administration as being reluctant to make decisions on controversial issues since being elected, adding that “not long from now” the government will be held accountable for its actions or perceived inaction.
As he gave his view on the Progressive Liberal Party government post the September 2021 vote, Mr Ingraham said the only major decision made by the administration has been the reduction of value added tax to 10 percent from 12 percent.
While admitting that generally the government was at this point receiving good reviews, Mr Ingraham said this was “on the surface” and could change at any time.
“The PLP won the election. There was a low poll 65 percent or thereabouts of the population that voted. They won convincingly,” Mr Ingraham said on Friday.
He was a guest on Guardian Talk Radio’s Z Live: Off the Record, with host Zhivargo Laing and asked for his views of the government nearly a year after it took office. The former prime minister’s participation on the show was also to mark the 30th anniversary of the Free National Movement’s first election victory.
“They have, since they’ve been in office, put on a first class show of public relations. I envy them. I could never have produced such a show when I was in office.
“The public is very happy that the FNM government is gone because they really wanted the FNM out and the public is willing to excuse many things that the present government is doing because they’re just happy to say ‘Well, at least they ain’t here now.’
“But as time goes on they will be judged by the public as we all have been up to now.
“They’ve not done anything major since they came in except they reduced VAT from 12 to 10 percent and put it on breadbasket items and they were able to get away with that and the public accepted that 10 percent is better than 12 even though it’s costing lots of money for lots of people who can’t afford it.
“But generally speaking they’re getting a good review by the population so far but that’s on the surface. I expect that not long from now they will be held accountable for their actions or inaction just like everybody else.
“What I do know is they have been very reluctant to make decisions about anything that’s possibly controversial. As you know they can only push that back so far.”
He suggested that this was the case with issues associated with the National Insurance Board.
Mr Ingraham was also critical of the government’s conduct in acting as if the country did not have financial challenges.
“I was in Inagua last week and Inagua had a resident doctor when Sir Arthur Foulkes, who is now just over 90 years of age, father was up there as a doctor.
“We have built a wonderful mini hospital up there and then they told me that there was no doctor there.
“So, it’s that kind of a thing that the government needs to take account of and try to ensure order that the public is getting the services that they require and deserve. Public relations can only do so much.
“The other thing is there is clearly a scarcity of money.
“Many people are complaining who can’t get paid, but the government is not acting as if there is financial difficulty or challenges.”
The former prime minister also noted that one of the concerns he has for the country is how immigration is handled.
“We are very skittish about foreigners. We want them here. We want their money here, but we don’t really want them here.
“We have large numbers of people who are here who have no status, who are entitled to status, etc, but we keep kicking that can down the road.
“I fear that that’s going to be a problem for us at some point in time.”
He said other than this, there was a need to find a means to offer more services in The Bahamas.