By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Leader Michael Pintard yesterday called the Davis administration a “shadow of its former self”, saying this “new day” party is far more concerned about politics than good governance.
“They are a shadow of their former selves,” Mr Pintard said during his contribution to the debate on a resolution to increase the country’s minimum wage. The resolution was eventually passed in the lower chamber yesterday.
“This debate is an example - minimum wage again, introduced by the Free National Movement, amended and improved by the Free National Movement and continued by the PLP, which is a wonderful thing.
“On this side, we have no issue with it. We believe that governments are continuous and for a year, we have been very supportive, constructive in our criticism of this administration, but no good deed goes unpunished with this group of members of Parliament, Madam Speaker.”
During his speech, the Marco City MP repeated criticisms of the government’s frequent travelling and rehashed concerns regarding Bahamas Power and Light’s fuel hedging initiative.
Mr Pintard last month said the Davis administration had been fully briefed on BPL’s fuel hedging strategy, despite claims from Prime Minister Philip Davis and Works and Utilities Minister Alfred Sears, who had repeatedly denied receiving advice and Cabinet paper recommendations on how to maintain BPL’s fuel charge at 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) or at a level close to that.
Increases in BPL’s monthly fuel charge are set to be reflected in consumers’ bills beginning this month.
“Madam Speaker, on the BPL issue, one or two things have to be true that the prime minister was not aware of this matter. One, the member for Fort Charlotte who did deny but we now all know, all of us in here know that he was advised on the hedge programme which had already saved somewhere in the vicinity of $25m and over the life of the contract, would save no less than $55m.
“He knew. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, he knew, Madam Speaker.”
However, rising on a point of order, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works Bacchus Rolle suggested that the remarks were misleading.
He argued that Mr Sears had indicated before that he had received an email concerning the BPL hedging strategy, but conceded that the email did not have a list of recommendations to which Mr Pintard had alluded.
“Madam Speaker, I believe it’s unfair for this member to repute or to say what the member for Fort Charlotte knew while the member for Fort Charlotte mentioned that he did receive the e-mail that this gentleman would now bring up,” Mr Rolle said.
“That e-mail did not have and it is not an example that says ‘this is what we should do over that or the next’. While I’m on my feet, I happen to know and the member knows too that in June or July during the last administration, the former board of BPL would’ve brought to the then cabinet of The Bahamas, the very same hedge agreement. Why did they not approve it at that time?
“If it was so good, why did they not approve it at that time?”
However, Mr Pintard stood by his earlier remarks.
“The member for Fort Charlotte got a six-page letter that clearly indicated the course of action,” he continued.
It was at this point that Mr Davis interjected, saying “the letter that was laid - that letter, all it did was settle the circumstances of the hedging programme. Just read the first paragraph of that letter and then you would (know) what that letter is all about.
“The recommendations about what was to happen or not happen in relation to the hedging, it just settled the circumstances under which the hedging was in fact and also the present state of conditions and circumstances of that hedging programme.”
Mr Pintard responded: “Madam Speaker, the first sentence says ‘Further to your email regarding the hedge programme at BPL, I think it would be useful to provide a general overview of the strategic considerations that went into structuring and implementation of this programme, how the programme works and results today.’
“The results today is $25m and that if the programme continues, it’s $55m.”
Prime Minister Davis then asked: “What is the date of the letter?”
To which Mr Pintard replied: “The date of the letter is the 18th of October (2021).”
Mr Davis then pointed out that the letter was written just over a month after his administration had assumed office.
“The letter was just about that,” the prime minister added. “What was the results today? It does not speak about any futuristic recommendations.”
But, Mr Pintard still insisted that the benefits of the programme should have been kept in place.
“So, Madam Speaker, when this administration talks about saving the Bahamian people money, they’re not serious,” he added.