Any doubt that the present crew governing this country have lost all contact with sense and sanity should have been dispelled for anyone listening to Financial Services Minister Ellsworth Johnson expounding the benefits of opening wide our country for anyone wishing to come here and work, study or just hang out like they’re back home.
That most of the entrants attracted by this “extended stay visa” will simply busy themselves doing what too many have been doing for years (that is, competing with Bahamians for a piece of our own economic pie) seems to elude the minister.
It also appears to elude both him and his government that the steady decline of the middle class and the growing disconnect between massive levels of foreign investment and sluggish growth in the domestic economy signifies a weakening of the protections that once ensured that the activities of foreigners within our borders actually maximized opportunities for Bahamians. So they set about dismantling these protections with reckless abandon, as if they are mere nuisances impeding the ‘investment’ that will save our economy (notwithstanding that we already attract among the highest levels of investment per capita on the planet).
While the dimwittedness of the present government stands out, it is sad to note that all of its predecessors since 1992 have also failed to understand the crucial relationship between foreign investment (which we need) and Bahamianisation (without which the benefits of foreign investment would largely bypass Bahamians).
The result has been a rush to the bottom, where failures to stimulate the domestic economy are interpreted as evidence that we’re not rushing to the bottom fast enough. Not a moment is taken to consider whether the medicine is exacerbating the ailment.
As if that is not bad enough, the same Minister also indicated that, among the dumb and shady ideas emanating from the unelected Economic Recovery Committee and now under consideration by this government, is a proposal to sell Bahamian citizenship to raise revenues.
The message is clear as daylight: faced with a fiscal crisis that only exists because successive governments have pursued a brazenly regressive tax policy that transfers wealth from the poor to the rich and builds no buffer of resilience for times of crisis, the FNM would sooner consider selling Bahamian passports than introducing even the mildest taxation of wealth and income. More good news for the FNM’s wealthy funders. More bad news for The Bahamas.
20 September 2020