Joey Gaskins, the spokesman for the Public Domain opinion and marketing research firm said last week a word of warning for the Free National Movement as he delivered the bad news that they had plummeted in popularity below 50 per cent. He said that while they were not yet at the irreversible point, the experience of the past had shown that once the rot sets in beyond one year and half, it is irreversible.
The FNM has spent one year digging into dirt and doing nothing to create a project or projects which will get this economy up and going particularly their home port in Freeport where they have five seats, the entire island of Grand Bahama. The experience in this country is that from decision day to first shovel in the ground is three years. That means the FNM cannot deliver any brand new project before 2021. Pretty close to the end.
We mention this because they have embarked on an ill-advised course in Freeport. The Customs Department which is under the superintendence of the Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest who is the MP for East Grand Bahama, has loosed the dogs of war on the business scommunity in Freeport. The business community was apoplectic that they have not seen any progress in the economy. The Oban energy proposal in East Grand Bahama has fallen flat. The hotel projects in Lucaya seem to be going nowhere. There is no money on the ground.
In the face of that, the Customs Department after botching the examination of goods being brought into the country through the ports and delaying them for days when people used to get them immediately, now has been going throughout Freeport doing what they call post audits. In some cases businesses have ended up being fined as much as 100,000 dollars. The businesses don’t have it. Customs has taken a tough stand, no periodic payments. The businesses are being closed by these actions. Peter Turnquest has turned out to be impenetrable and unreachable as far as an appeal is concerned. He has told those who ask him that he thinks, he says the Customs Department acted properly.
The Works Minister when asked about it took the view that the businessmen were asking him to support the defrauding of Government revenue.
They are not listening. Mr. Gaskins said that the FNM has one and half years to get it right. One year is gone. Nuff said.