COMMENTARY BY EDITOR, THE BAHAMAS SCOOP

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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.

Yours etc.
Editor, Bahamas Scoop