June 10, 2016
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Woe unto us! A little over a year ago we elected a new Government that would lead us into a land flowing with biblical milk and honey. Instead, we are left, like Job, to repent in dust and ashes. In its most basic function, creating the budget that controls our economy, Dr Minnis’ FNM party, with nearly 90 percent of House seats, has managed to lose the faith of its citizens.
I see the new VAT-free Bread Basket will now include mustard. Why not ketchup? How did the Government’s expert nutritionist decide which flavouring is essential in the diet for the cash-strapped family?
No sooner had Simon Potter, CEO of Nassau-based Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC), announced an international oil company had signed a 90-day renewable option to become a farm-out partner with BPC, than our environmental activists predictably denounced the deal — indeed, the very concept of drilling for oil in Bahamian waters.
In the first year of his FNM administration, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has been slow off the ground in announcing new business ventures. Of course, it’s not the function of Government to create commercial entities, but rather to set a business-
I have just read press reports that another bill has been tabled in the House to avoid blacklisting, by satisfying - better read “appeasing” - the European Union (EU) in its campaign to extract full compliance on tax matters.
Light is beginning to appear dimly at the end of the tunnel – the dark and murky place we entered a little over a month ago. On February 19, Prime Minister Minnis used the full panoply of his office to celebrate the “ceremonial” signing of a heads of agreement (or something) calling for a $5.5bn refinery project on Grand Bahama to be created by an unknown Florida company incorporated less than two years ago as Oban Energies LLC.
So now we have the 41-page Heads of Agreement that presumably any citizen may read, as I have done. It is signed for Oban Energies LLC not by Peter Krieger, the corpulent gentleman who featured in press photos with Prime Minister Minnis both putting pens on something — what? But Mr Krieger we were told is only the non-executive chairman, or “ambassador” for Oban. The actual document bears the signature of Oban’s unseen President, Satpal Dhunna.
February now truly starts the business year, after January’s blip when most of our citizens twiddled their thumbs to celebrate that historic holiday (Age: two years), Majority Rule Day.
The comprehensive Annual Report of Cable Bahamas, the country’s largest non-bank company, should be read not only by its shareholders but by anyone interested in how a multi-division enterprise can thrive in our restrictive economic environment. With its current fiscal year extended by six months to June 30, 2017, the report tells a story stretching over 18 months, the most crucial period since Cable’s founding over 20 years ago.
I went over to a new Island Luck gaming site the other night and opened an account in the windowless single-purpose room, lit mainly by dozens of computer screens. I was not there to become a steady player, but to discover whether the premises were infested with shady characters likely to “pose a risk to the country’s financial sector”, as Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar has warned us with alarmist press headlines.
Up the hill and right back down again—that’s the story of Bahamian electric power during the five wasted, and expensive, years of PLP Government. Dr. Minnis’ new administration is now back at square one, with a clean slate for creating a brand-new energy policy, a crucial task he must soon address if he is to retain credibility.
The Cable Bahamas (CAB) share price quoted on BISX has suffered a stunning fall of almost 40% in the last 18 months, from $6.50 to $4.00. EPS (earnings per share) dropped from $0.28 in 2014 to a loss of ($0.38) in 2017, and last year quarterly dividends on the ordinary shares were indefinitely suspended.
Richard Coulson looks at the tasks facing the new Prime Minister as he takes office . . .
TYPICAL Bahamians, like citizens everywhere, take little interest in the numbers underlying their country’s successes - or failures.
Richard Coulson looks at what the inauguration of President Trump might mean for the US and the Bahamas . . .
‘Revolution’ is a word that scares Bahamians. Progress, development, new look, fresh start - all are words we are happy to use, while the stronger term frightens us with images of Haitian anarchy or the bloody 19th century Jamaican slave revolt.
Our Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX) recently launched its “new and improved, user friendly, website”. Just type www.bisxbahamas.com on your computer, and there it is ... unfortunately, a damp squib.
In debating the pending Baha Mar payouts, let’s recognise one good thing amidst the surrounding sea of errors and deception: former Baha Mar employees (about 2,000 of them) will soon be paid what is owed to them.
Richard Coulson explains why the $100m ‘gift’ to Bahamian creditors is doing nothing to advance Baha Mar’s revival . . .
After all the legal manoeuvres, rhetoric and agreements, Richard Coulson doubts any progress has been made on the stalled mega resort . . .
This week’s Free National Movement summit will thankfully be open, unlike Trump’s annointment in Ohio, Richard Coulson says . . .
Do these quotes reflect the current state of eastern Bay Street? Yes, but it so happens that they are more than 10 years old, taken from the Bahamas Business edition dated January 9, 2006. There is no better example of the huge volume of hot air, and little practical effort, that has been spent on redeveloping the decaying, moribund Bay Street blocks stretching east from East Street.