After over a month of refusing to respond to press and public queries about the now infamous Oban project, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis spoke about Oban today in Parliament, but did not provide answers to any of the critical matters thereto. In a prepared text of insults to the intelligence of the Bahamian people, the Prime Minister did not speak comprehensively to Oban as he promised, but instead spent most of his time talking about the PLP administration – an administration that did not sign a Heads of Agreement (HOA) with Oban as the FNM administration has done, and an administration which says it chose not to sign a HOA with Oban for two of the very same reasons that have made this project such a teeming controversy for the FNM administration. To force the nation to wait this long only to refuse to speak to the salient matters of this project and instead seek to use the PLP as a smokescreen, is yet another stunning show of contempt for the Bahamian people and the reputation of The Bahamas.
The Following Matters Remain: Continue reading
Few things assault a citizenry more than its government spending considerable time and resources making the case for how dire the nation’s finances are and how sacrifices must be made to save us from economic peril – only to have that same government turn around and tell those same citizens that while they must feel the pinch, their elected officials will be getting more money.
#1 – THE CUPBOARDS ARE BARE, REMEMBER? – and we are in times of “austerity”, but somehow you braved the dust bunnies in those bare cupboards to see your way clear to giving yourselves more money. Continue reading
Personally, I have no problem with us assisting the children of Dominica. I do not believe that providing help to those in need will suddenly make us destitute or less able to be helped, and I live in Grand Bahama where things have been tough for years. Were it not for foreign aid, from the United States in the North to Jamaica in the South, our island would have suffered even more pain than it did during Frances and would still be in darkness after Hurricane Matthew last year. When we saw those foreign guys on those poles fixing our light, we didn’t block them at the border or tell them get out of our country because you are not Bahamian. We didn’t block our borders in West End to foreign groups who came in bringing relief supplies. Their countries have major problems too. Their households undoubtedly have their challenges. We welcomed them with open arms because we needed them and will need them again should, God forbid, we get hit with more major hurricanes. Continue reading
Appropriate regard being had to the country’s financial indicators, the biggest emergency I heard spoken of during this year’s Budget debate is that of our educational system. We as Bahamians are very good at living in denial and pretending to be where we are not as a country. We quickly take offense and clutch defiantly onto our insecurities and feelings of inferiority whenever education is discussed. The reality is that it will ultimately matter very little who is in office if the majority of your citizens cannot read, comprehend and calculate beyond a certain grade level. The nation cannot advance beyond a certain level if so many of us are appreciably limited in our ability to critically think, reason, and productively carry out certain fundamentals in our society. Yes, the nation will have some bright moments along the way, but collectively we will be lacking in very significant ways. Continue reading
Fixing our financial free-fall is not going to happen by making a bunch of us happy in the short to medium term. To get our financial house in order will take making many of us angry – very angry. It is going to take MPs and Ministers who are prepared to become unpopular with their constituents and the general public as hard and painful decisions must be made. It’s going to take Ministers being prepared to become the enemy in some of our eyes in order to reverse our downward trends. It’s going to take national sacrifice – and this is what the public is not being told. Continue reading
Since the start of the 2017/2018 Budget process in Parliament, there has been much talk about hundreds of persons hired into the Public Service prior to the General Election and the millions such hiring is said to have cost taxpayers. Ever wonder what we pay to and for current public sector employees and sector retirees?
2017/2018 Budget Allocations:
Salaries & Allowances – $753.5 million
Non-Contributory Pension Payments – $95 million
Health Insurance Premiums – $71.7 million
Gratuities – $33 million
NIB – $31.3 million
Parliamentary Pensions – $1.7 million Continue reading
We haven’t been told if a review of our financial administration laws is planned, but I believe we need to look at legislating the caliber of information that must be submitted to the Parliament along with Resolutions to borrow sums of money. That way, there would be no argument about what should be brought by any given government – a standard and requirement in law would be set. In order to borrow money, the Minister of Finance must bring a Resolution to Parliament requesting the consent of Parliament to do so. Since Parliament must give the approval, then Parliament should be given all the requisite information to support such a request by the government. Continue reading
Winning an election is an exciting time if your side has emerged victorious. I get that entirely. Nevertheless, governance starts on day 1; the country does not pause while we sit in our euphoria or sadness about an election result. People vote the way they do for many reasons. For those who voted in search of progressive change, they have every right to demand it and ought to demand it along with making a commitment to actually be involved in their democracy – since marking an X does not mark the end of the work we as citizens have to do in a democracy. Continue reading
The Bahamas government spends a substantial amount of our tax dollars in office rent for its Ministries and Departments. Based on the information that is available in the new 2017/2018 Budget, over $45.8 million has been allocated for office rental payments. Budget Heads for areas such as the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) which were removed from the national Budget by the former administration have not been re-instituted for the 2017 Budget, so any rental allocations that may exist under the PHA and other such areas cannot be seen by the Parliament and public and hence, are not factored into that $45.8 million figure. We also have not been told whether any of the newly discovered contracts entered into prior to the General Election include office rental contracts. Continue reading
All MPs receive a $2,500 allowance each month ($30,000 per year) that is designated via the Parliamentarians Constituency Office Allowance Act to finance the operations of their constituency office. The monthly allowance was increased to $2,500 from $1,500 back in 2015. All MPs are required by law to keep all receipts and proper accounts of the use of this allowance, which are to be audited annually by the Auditor General. The allowance in law is set out for rent, upkeep and maintenance; salaries, bank charges and NIB payments; utilities; equipment and supplies. In the Family Islands (except Grand Bahama and Bimini) the allowance is also set for transportation within the constituency. Continue reading