THE SENATE MEETS: Fred Mitchell, now the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate stood up on Friday 23 June to challenge the government leader Senator Carl Bethel’s assertion that there was malfeasance in office by PLP Ministers of the Government. Senator Bethel later withdrew it. That’s our photo of the week. Photo by the Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.
They left it to Carl Bethel, the Attorney General to do all the splaining. The Bahamar deal which they said they wanted unsealed was unsealed by the courts and it turns out that there was nothing there at all. In fact, the deal had already been announced to the public by the PLP way back in April of this year.
The Attorney General said in the Senate on Friday 23 June that well the FNM was only saying that the deal which the Government had struck with the Chinese Export Import Bank should have been in the public domain. No that’s not what they said but anyway let’s let that one go for now. Then he said that they wanted that deal unsealed and it has now been unsealed. And well yes they have to admit that there was nothing unusual in the deal at all. There were the usual terms which were in any Hotels Encouragement deal.
This was the kicker though the Attorney General said that there were some things which were left sealed, which were of a commercial nature which the Judge had ordered would remained sealed and the Government had no objection to that.
We understand. So that is precisely what the PLP had said. So you and the PLP now agree. The whole thing was a lie that you were campaigning upon. There were no secret deals in Bahamar.
We guess poor Sarkis Ismerlian now knows that he won’t be getting his hotel back despite the largesse which he lavished upon the FNM.
Ok so that’s that one.
Next we move on to how Irrington “Minky” Isaacs reacted to the Prime Minister Hubert Minnis calling his name in the House Of Assembly and giving people the impression that somehow Mr. Isaacs had done something wrong by getting a 1.2 million dollar contract from BEC, the power company, to help clean up the oil spills at Clifton and at Blue Hills.
Mr. Isaacs told the Nassau Guardian: “I was disgusted when I heard it. I wish he would come out side and say it in front of me, I would strike him right in his mouth”
The Leader of the Opposition Philip Davis disassociated the party from the threat and said he hoped Mr. Isaacs was not serious.
That’s is the right position to take but the actions of the Prime Minister in the face of the truth that there was proper bidding and he was awarded the contract and gave value for money is vexing. It is again the propensity of the FNM to spin lies and untruths and to think that they campaigned successfully on lies and untruths.
We stand with Mr Isaacs. The Prime Minister is to be condemned for making those irresponsible remarks.
Similarly, the Prime Minister ought to be condemned for putting at risk the man Jonathan Ash and his family for the allegation that he too got eight million dollars of contracts and did not give value for money.
Mr. Ash has a weekly payroll of 100 people with some 34,000 dollars to be paid every week. He will have to lay all of those people off at the end of June. He has committed to keeping them until then even though he has not been paid. The stop, review and cancel government has struck again.
Anyway, this is what the Bahamian people voted for. A government of “butus”. God help us.
Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 24 June 2017 up to midnight: 496,204; Number of hits for the month of June up to Saturday 24 June 2017 up to midnight: 1,033,851; Number of hits for the year 2017 up to Saturday 24 June 2017 up midnight: 5,470,733.
I have received a number of inquiries from my family and from the Leader of the Opposition about a campaign of full page ads that is being run in The Tribune by a nameless, faceless group calling itself Committee Against Mitchell or Bahamians Against Mitchell. These ads have been running continuously on the back pages of The Tribune as full pages for a number of weeks since the general election. They are defamatory.
I wish to say that our investigators have determined who the author of these ads is and they are satisfied that there is no such Committee but that this is another disguise which is used by a well-known attorney to attack his political opponents.
I will formally lay over a complaint of breach of privilege in due course pursuant to the rules of the Senate and in due time.
I am satisfied that the ads are designed to injure me in my office and in my character and ultimately to silence me in my office by the use of money which cannot be matched by my private or party resources and therefore disclose a prima facie breach of privilege. I will look to the Parliament of this country for its protection. The ads have certainly caused a great deal of consternation and distress to my family and to my political colleagues.
In due course also I plan to ask a series of Parliamentary questions about an organization called Save The Bays and whether it has complied with a request by the Registrar General issued on 19 April pursuant to the Companies (Non-Profit Organizations) Regulations 2014 to disclose pursuant to Regulation 12 documents including those that detail the organization’s purpose, objective, and activities. It also requests identification of persons who control or direct the activities of the organization and any financial records that show the source of the gross annual income of the organization, explain the transactions within and outside The Bahamas and that show that the funds of the organization have been used in a manner consistent with its objective and activities.
I raise that because the ads which have appeared from this faceless Bahamians Against Mitchell committee are designed and placed in a broadly similar manner to ads which have appeared in the same newspaper tied to a number of similar organizations that ran ads during the 2017 campaign, all tied to the lawyer who is connected to Save The Bays.
It is important in my view to determine where the money trail leads and who is behind this. Indeed if I am to receive recompense it is absolutely crucial to know where the sourcing of the money is and the identity of the individuals who are seeking to defame me and injure me in my public office.
As you are aware, it is already in the public domain an allegation that significant millions of dollars were sent through the account of Callenders and Co to Fund Save The Bays and the arguments that have ensued about whether their funding has been used in manner consistent with their stated objectives.
This side insists that this is a matter of continuing public interest.
I wish also to say that in the course of a statement made to the press on 14 June Fred Smith QC told The Tribune the following with regard to the withdrawal of some litigation brought by Save The Bays in our courts:
“Fitzgerald and Mitchell were pursuing a personal vendetta against save the Bays on behalf of Nygard
And they tried to use parliamentary privilege as members of the government to abuse Save The Bays.”
That statement is a falsehood. It is also defamatory and the appropriate action will be taken with regard to it.
OAS Bahamas Civil Society Engagement: Meeting in the margins of the 47th OAS General Assembly.
From left- right: Director Director General of Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sharon Brennen-Haylock; Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Darren Henfield; Alexus D’Marco of the DMarco Organization, a CSO based in The Bahamas; and Foreign Service Officer Shagerra Edgecombe.
I watched with keen interest the debate of the Attorney General the Hon. Carl Bethel and several assertions he made were both questionable and materially inaccurate.
The AG said that the PLP government went on a spending spree and spent $722 million in excess of the budget during the 2016/2017 fiscal year. This is materially inaccurate and patently false as the FNM’s own House resolution disagrees with Mr. Bethel. The resolution calls for $400 million in loan to defray government expenses for the 2016/2017. Whatever expenditure the FNM government approves to finance its operations in the 2017/2018 fiscal year is a matter for the FNM, not the PLP. The FNM cannot make a policy decision, then blame the PLP for it.
Mr. Bethel also claimed that the budget deficit under the PLP was $500 million each year. This too is untrue and all available financial records prove this assertion to be false. The record clearly shows that the PLP government reduced the $540 million budget deficit (inherited from the FNM in 2012) by eighty percent. The country was hit with two devastating storms, Joaquin and Matthew, that basically shut down the entire economy of The Bahamas for several days causing significant public revenue losses; caused for emergency government borrowing and sharp expenditure hikes; and caused for temporary tax concessions. Together, these external factors caused a sharp rise in the budget deficit. It is curious that these causal factors and root causes were all lost on the Attorney General as he struggled to rewrite history and distort the facts through omission and fact misrepresentation to toe his party’s deceptive line about PLP economic and fiscal mismanagement.
On the issue of the sealed Baha Mar agreement, Mr. Bethel came full circle in admitting essentially that former Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie was right all along in saying that due to “MARKET SENSITIVITY,” the commercial transaction between the two private parties involved in the sale of Baha Mar, CTE and EXIM Bank, had to “remain sealed for the time being” as per the Bahamas Supreme Court – not Mr. Christie.
The record also clearly shows that the conditions contained in the Government’s Heads of Terms were revealed by Mr. Christie as early as August 2016 and repeated numerous times after that so the government agreement with the EXIM Bank could not be a secret. The amount of lies told by the FNM, their surrogates like Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd and carried extensively in social media and talk radio precipitated measured public interventions – specifically denials and rebuttals – by no less than the former Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister.
No there was no 10,000 acres of land in Andros given to the Chinese. No there was no 500 Bahamian citizenships sold to the Chinese in return for investing in Baha Mar. No, The Bahamas is not becoming a colony of China; no there was no takeover of The Bahamas by China and no there was no evidence of the PLP government selling out The Bahamas to the Chinese. These damnable lies formed the foundation and pillars of the FNM’s election campaign. And the lies and deception continues in government.
The FNM government does not have the give the PLP government credit for nothing – they need only speak the truth and support their claims with the available, easily verifiable factual evidence. Time and time again during this budget debate, they simply failed to speak the truth.
It’s June and the whole island of New Providence is dotted with the red of the Poinciana trees. But there is also one tree that blooms in gold. A moral tale. Try as the reds might try to destroy the gold…we are still standing.
The folk at the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts and Shakespeare In Paradise announced that Keva Cartwright, the long serving Lighting Director for the theatre, passed away at two thirty a m this morning. She joins in the great beyond Winston Saunders, Betty Knowles, Clement Bethel. May she rest in peace.
Peter Ramsay, the BIS photographer and the man we call the recorder of our times in The Bahamas, suffered both the loss of his mother and older sister in the last month. His mother Carmita Theresa is pictured. We say rest in peace for them both and extend the warmest condolences from this column. There are no words that we can say to stop the sadness but our thoughts are with you.
The University Professor and playwright Ian Strachan posted these provocative questions on Facebook. He and his colleague Dr. Nicolette Bethel did not participate in the last election and ran a campaign for people to stay at home:
“We stand at the end of the Budget debate. I have 4 questions. 1) What is the FNM’s plan for job creation and GDP growth? 2) What is the FNM’s plan to address our energy problems? 3) What is the FNM’s plan to address gun trafficking and the pointless war on drugs? 4) What is the FNM’s plan to address waste management in the capital? Maybe FNM supporters were listening more attentively than I was, so please point me in the right direction.”
Despite the fact that the Leader of the Opposition Philip Davis and the Shadow Minister of Transport an former Minister Glenys Hanna Martin brought the facts of what happened with the Board of the Airport Authority and the contract of PatMor at the Lynden Pindling International Airport, that the write off of the million or so dollars in rent owed and the settlement with the company was all above board, and that he had not dismissed the Board of the Airport Authority, the motor mouth of the FNM Dionysio D’Aguilar its Minister of Tourism had refused to back down. He says he is standing by the lies.
The backbenchers of the FNM are grumbling. A month after the general election and their financial fortunes have not changed. They have been hustling on the blocks for some time. Some of them didn’t even have place to live and now that it’s the people’s time, they thought that they would be able to cash in on a decent paying job with access to wider opportunities. One of them already went to the Prime Minister to ask what was going to be done for him and was asked the question: ‘But aren’t you a lawyer?’ In other words, you can fend for yourself. So the days are coming when reckoning will be required to quiet the boys down and give them something to do or else revolt is a ‘coming.
Senator Fred Mitchell speaking at the Golden Isles branch of the PLP at Gerald Cash Primary School 22 January. Michael Halkitas is the PLP’s caretaker for that branch. Branch Chair Greg Smith is standing next to Senator Mitchell.
Statement to the National General Council of the PLP
(Editor: The latest information is that about 7 30 p m accompanied by his wife Portia, Dr. Bernard Nottage was airlifted to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and the Cleveland Clinic where he is in stable condition. He is still listed as gravely ill.”
By Bradley Roberts Chairman 22 June:
“Fellow Councillors, as we meet tonight our esteemed colleague the former Minister of National Security and former MP for Bain and Grants Town Dr. Bernard J Nottage lies gravely ill in Hospital. Dr. Nottage is receiving the best medical care possible and we ask as a party and indeed the nation for your prayers to the Great Physician Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Senator Michael Darville speaking in the Senate on Friday 23 June told the country that NHI was good thing and that the Government ought to implement the programme. He spoke to a variety of subjects including the Ministry of Grand Bahama, health care and infrastructural development and urban renewal. On NHI he said: “Madam President, I must admit that I was disappointed that only forty million dollars ($40,000,000.00) was allocated in this year budget for National Health Insurance as compared to the one hundred and twenty plus million dollars ($120,000,000.00) proposed by our administration.
Madam President, with a mere fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000.00) allocated for primary healthcare, as well as catastrophic care, and ten million dollars ($10,000,000.00) for the full implementation of NHIA, it is obvious that the program has been watered down. This is unfortunate, Madam President, and goes against the government’s election promises to adequately fund NHI, and implement a full catastrophic care program. It is evident, by these figures that their priorities have obviously shifted! ” You may click here for the full statement.