THE DEATH OF BAHAMIANIZATION?
A PERSPECTIVE ON THE BAHAMAS COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE BILL
BRADLEY B ROBERTS FORMER PLP CHAIRMAN
NOV 26th 2017
In arguably the nastiest political campaign on record, Bahamians were told by the FNM that the governing PLP was corrupt and that they used the resources of the government to enrich themselves, their friends, families and lovers. Dr. Minnis is on record as calling the Christie administration the most corrupt in the history of The Bahamas. This characterization was parroted by the editorial board of the Nassau Guardian. No objective or empirical evidence was ever offered as support for this assertion, but in the era of fake news, slash and burn, scorched earth, cut throat and gutter politics – facts be damned.
The FNM used this narrative with great effectiveness to proffer a platform of change under what is now a deceitful political mantra: THE PEOPLES TIME.
What unfolded in the aftermath of May 10th was victor’s justice where the incumbent Commissioner of Police was first silenced, then eventually transferred to a new position while former PLP Parliamentarians were paraded before the courts. There was no forensic audit of public accounts that provided objective evidence of political corruption, just FNM cabinet ministers running to the press saying how they decided on the prosecutions of their political enemies and that there were more prosecutions to come.
The Prime Minister also said there was a sense of calm over the country since the 10th of May election victory and that crime was on the decline. After a spate of murders including teenagers and infants as innocent victims, the Prime Minister again said that crime was on the decline and that he was turning his attention to the economy.
THE BAHAMAS COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE BILL
The last time Brent Symonette served in the cabinet as the minister responsible for immigration between 2007 and 2012, he was clearly in the business of selling work permits – having bragged during the 2010/2011 budget debate that the government collected in excess of $40 million in work permit fees. He bragged while unemployment soared to 14.7% by May of 2012 with almost 30,000 Bahamians unemployed and with more than 4,000 Bahamian homes in various stages of foreclosure because of mass unemployment.
Now Brent Symonette is back to finish the job he started ten years ago. In a bill the government claimed would stimulate and grow the local economy while providing jobs for Bahamians, to the chagrin and dismay of thousands of Bahamians, the bill liberalized the granting of work permits for established enterprises meeting the requisite $250,000 threshold that needed foreign managers and key personnel to run these companies. This essentially deals a death blow to the policy of Bahamianization – that far reaching and transformational immigration/social/economic policy that is largely responsible and rightly credited for the establishment of the professional and middle classes. Even though Bahamianization was created by a PLP government, many professional Bahamians who benefitted from this policy have thrown their political lot in and support behind the FNM because of classism. They simply did not want to be identified with the so called “grass roots” or poor and “ignorant” Bahamians as that social demographic grouping was characterized by the perennially cynical and deceitful FNM.
The Commercial Enterprise Bill will no doubt create a new class warfare – this time warfare between the foreign and Bahamian professionals as the foreign manager will not be here to train the Bahamian to take over the enterprise but to eventually secure for himself (or herself) permanent residency and possibly Bahamian citizen to displace and supplant the indigenous Bahamian professional.
THE BAHAMAS COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE BILL IS INDEED SPELLS THE DEATH OF BAHAMIANIZATION! THE NEW MIDDLE CLASS AND PROFESSIONAL CLASS WILL BE THE IMPORTED FOREIGNER WHO WILL NO DOUBT FORM A FORMIDIBLE ALLIANCE WITH THE BAY STREET AND EASTERN ROAD OLIGHARCHY TO FURTHER ENTRENCH ECONOMIC CONTROL OF THE BAHAMAS. TOGETHER THEY WILL STAVE OFF THE 85% AFRICAN DIASPORA WHO ARE BECOMING INCREASINGLY EDUCATED, SKILLED AND COMPETENT AND AGITIATED ABOUT INHERITING THEIR BIRTHRIGHT: BAHAMIAN OWERSHIP OF THE BAHAMIAN ECONOMY.
In a very real sense we are headed back to the pre-1967 social order and the PLP will be called upon to stand in the gap – again – to fight for Bahamians, to stand up for social justice and for the preservation of the national Bahamian identity.
This new social order will accelerate a brain drain where many educated Bahamians (mostly of the African Diaspora) will simply leave The Bahamas out of frustration as they are systematically displaced as senior executives and managers due to institutional economic discrimination.
The PLP must vigorously oppose this bill and vow to repeal it at the earliest opportunity. For those Bahamians who always argue that the struggle for majority rule was ancient history and should be relegated to the trash bin of history – well think again. The only difference is that the platform and battlefield have moved from social to economic in nature. The struggle for equality and justice in whatever incarnation those principles of human existence are presented are very real and the struggle continues.