The Prime Minister of The Bahamas Hubert Minnis is having a great time right now. If you were to look at him at work, in the public domain, you would think he does not have a care in the world. He is flying up and down the streets of Nassau with police motorcycles and chase car in tow. He has his ministers on his flank. He is fielding calls from CNN and other international news agencies like BBC. He is the star of the show. He even got a call from Prince Charles. So chuffed was the Prime Minister at that, that he posed in his blazer for the photograph taking the call and released an atrial transcript of the call. Then he was on the front page of the newspaper with the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Gutierrez. Boy what exalted company. Us mere mortals only look on and suck our teeth.
You would not think that this is a man who is presiding over a country that is facing the biggest crisis in its recent political history. Let’s start with this: there has not been any hurricane in The Bahamas in living memory in which there have been massive deaths. None. The reports say that when Marsh Harbour in Abaco was flattened back in the 1932 hurricane, 140 people died. That has not happened again in living memory.
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said in his press conference last week that there will be hundreds of deaths. The local rag, The Punch, put the number of deaths at 2300. The official tag of missing is now 1300. This is a serious event.
The number of displaced people from Grand Bahama and Abaco is probably equally as staggering. They number in the thousands. This has put enormous pressure on the economic and social systems in Nassau. The town is brimming over with refugees. The problem of their immediate housing needs is one thing but there is no clear plan by the government about what these folks are going to do next. What is the plan to rebuild. How will they find work and where and who is going to pay for all of this?
Then there is the infrastructure. The phone system wasn’t worth diddly squat before the storm. Judge now. BTC, the primary phone provider, collapsed during the storm and is having a hard time getting up and going. The Prime Minister’s government seems helpless at letting us know what is happening there.
Next we have the power. In New Providence, the Bahamas Power and Light company continues to be a national embarrassment. Every day, there are power cuts ranging from three to five hours across the island. There is no end in sight. Last week, there was a report of a fire of one of the rental generators which meant a loss of 1 megawatt of power. This company may have robbed the church but more it is due to their negligence.
Finally, in this round, we mention the Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest, the bean counter who superintends the country’s finances. Since the storm you might be forgiven for thinking that he has been in hiding. First he weathered the storm in his constituency, which was a bad idea since they had all been advised to evacuate. Then when he showed up in the east of Grand Bahama where the place lay in ruins largely because he did not spend the monies necessary to put in the infrastructure to protect the area, he did not get too great a welcome.
On Saturday 14 September 2019 a video shows up with a citizen reporter asking Mr. Turnquest what does the government plan to do about the hurricane relief effort. His answer: “ You know didn’t cause the hurricane”. He should go sit on a rock like Hamlet and say: “ What an ass am I”.
Almost certainly, Mr. Turnquest’s deficit reduction plan that he was crowing about a few weeks ago is now in tatters. So, the same thing that happened to the PLP when it was fighting to lower the deficit has now happened to him: a storm hit and there is no way that the budget can be aligned in these circumstances. This time it is almost surely worse since the second and third economic centres are severely damaged.
So there you have it. Not a good story. But the man , the jack who is supposed to be managing all of this is the dear Prime Minister Hubert Minnis. What we get from him though is not inspiration but touring, public relations and insipid commentary. He should go work for CNN if that is what he thinks his job is. Perhaps those two former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie might shame him into doing his job.
We must be inspired.