COMMENTARY BY BAHAMAS SCOOP
THE PLP VIS-A-VIS THE FNM ADMINISTRATIONS AT 100 DAYS IN OFFICE
At their 100-day mark in office after much electoral pomp, pageantry and fanfare, many Bahamians are finding it near impossible to identify one substantive policy or legislative success story by the Minnis administration that can be used to shape the vision and policy direction of The Bahamas; this is disgraceful after promising change, prosperity, good governance and repeatedly pronouncing the PLP government an abject failure.
The FNM did succeed in bringing four former PLP Parliamentarians before the courts on charges of bribery and extortion. The process remains clouded in secrecy as nobody knows who the virtual complainants were. Meanwhile, with all the evidence available to the government on more than $7 million that went missing from BPL, nobody has been brought before the courts and the low level rank and file accounting clerks who were fired claim to have no knowledge of the fraud scam. The government clearly is not serious about cleaning up corruption.
There are complaints of a political witch hunt, the politicization of the RBPF and the mass firings of public servants. After much talk of transparency, accountability, honesty and the people’s time, routine public administrative processes such as timely school repairs are proving excessively challenging for this government. They have disrespected Bahamians by awarding a huge contract to a foreign firm for tourism marketing and many of the contracts for school repairs were not competitive. Mal Jack shows up again with a handsome non-competitive $4 million contract. We all know Mal Jack very well. This FNM’s favourite contractor is notorious for cost overruns and not finishing projects. The government complex on Mangrove Cay, Garvin Tynes Primary and the Government High School are current monuments to this government’s repeated failures in contract administration and protecting the public purse and interests. He was banned from the government’s list of approved bidders by the Ministry of Works so why is he still around?
The DPM misled Parliament on the budget deficit – an impeachable offense. When this serious breach was brought to his attention by the shadow Minister for Finance, the PLP member for Exuma and Ragged Island, Mr. Turnquest in typical arrogant FNM fashion engaged in a public argument in a futile attempt to defend the indefensible; so much for accountability, honesty and transparency in government, the major campaign pledge made by Dr. Hubert Minnis.
In stark contrast, say what you will about the Christie led PLP government, but in their first 100 days in office, there were clear and finite policy measures taken and the direction of the country was clear. In the interest of fairness and perspective, let us examine some of those policies and their legislative agenda.
The Ministry of Grand Bahama was established, populated and given a $3.19 million operating budget. The Ministry of Financial Services and Investments was also immediately created and received an operating budget of $4.4 million
The $15 million mortgage relief program was in progress along with clear policy outlines for the promised gaming referendum, lowering the cost of electricity, immigration reform to better control our borders, key elements of Project Safe Bahamas, Operations Cease Fire and Urban Renewal 2.0 to buttress the country’s fight against crime.
Further, the doubling of the nation’s investment in education and training was articulated by Minister Fitzgerald to include the following: the expansion of preschool education; access to the best training and best practices for teachers; improved and expanded after school programs: early detection of special needs; a new high school equivalency diploma; upgrading school technology; career path academies; expanded technical and vocational training and new apprenticeship opportunities; transforming The College of the Bahamas into a university and worker retraining.
State Minister for Finance, the Hon. Michael Halkitis tabled legislation in the House of Assembly to amend the Bahamas Development Bank Act on the 8th of August 2012.
The Christie government also reduced the maximum level of stamp tax payable on real estate transactions from 12 percent to 10 percent. The PLP government also re-introduced a ceiling on the maximum level of real property taxes payable on a primary residential property and passed amendments to both the Stamp Tax and Real Property Tax Acts in the Lower and Upper Chambers of the House.
IN STARK CONTRAST THE MINNIS TEAM WHEN ON AN EXTENTED VACATION SHORTLY AFTER THEIR CELEBRATION AND GLOATING IN PARLIAMENT SQUARE!
I could on and on about what the PLP administration accomplished in its first 100 days in office but objective readers get the general picture. The more I list the accomplishments of the PLP, the more embarrassingly amateurish Minnis and his FNM team looks.
Suffice it to say, the FNM game to office with a huge electoral mandate, high expectations but sadly no plans to govern this country and very little to show for their time in office. The objective and empirical evidence bear this out to the chagrin of many of their ardent supporters. FACTS ARE INDEED STUBBORN!
EDITOR, BAHAMAS SCOOP