Our Economy, The Private Sector & The Government – This Baha Mar Matter Is So Much Bigger Than Simply A Hotel

Flag of The BahamasI begin by stressing what all Bahamians need to understand about what is supposed to happen in free societies with a free enterprise economy – THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO SUBVERT THE PRIVATE SECTOR OR A LAWFUL PRIVATE BUSINESS’ ABILITY TO FUNCTION OR EXIST. NOR IS IT SUPPOSED TO SEEK TO CARRY OUT OR FACILITATE HOSTILE-STYLE TAKEOVERS OF PRIVATE COMPANIES/BUSINESSES. That is what happens in dictatorships, banana republics or otherwise closed societies and economies. That is not supposed to happen in countries like The Bahamas which claims to be a free society whose economic system is free enterprise. With the Baha Mar matter becoming so heavily politicized, many of us are forgetting what is critical here – BAHA MAR IS A PRIVATE PROJECT, NOT A GOVERNMENT PROJECT – hence in a free society where free enterprise is supposed to exist, government seeking to use the Courts to stick its hands into a private company so as to determine how and if that company can function or exist IS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. Should private entities fall into disputes, their recourse includes Courts of jurisdiction – not the government interfering and seeking to exert control over private enterprises to determine which party in a dispute “wins”. This kind of government action cuts to the very core of what The Bahamas is as a jurisdiction and place to do business. What the government has been doing to Baha Mar and its developer thus far is bigger than just Baha Mar – THE GOVERNMENT’S ACTIONS WILL NEGATIVELY IMPACT THE COUNTRY’S INVESTMENT CLIMATE AND ITS REPUTATION AS A JURISDICTION. It is also creating even more unnecessary delays and complications to an already complicated situation between private parties. We as Bahamians need to learn to stop being led around blindly and deceived by politics and its propaganda, and instead get fully informed and educated about issues and their consequences. THE BAHAMAS GOVERNMENT IS TELLING INVESTORS BOTH HERE AND AROUND THE WORLD THAT THIS COUNTRY IS NOT THE PLACE TO DO BUSINESSES UNLESS YOU ARE IN BED WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY – AND EVEN THEN YOU CAN STILL GET SCREWED. That is bad news for our economy and for all businesspersons, whether you are Bahamian or foreign. Read what the international press is already saying about us as a result of this matter. The government is turning our reputation into garbage and prospects for real economic growth into a fantasy. They are killing this country to achieve their own personal and political ends, and they also appear to be putting the global objectives of a foreign State before the best interests of The Bahamas and Bahamians.

Regarding the ongoing Baha Mar matter, forget about the personalities involved for a moment, since some of us tend to abandon any hint of logic getting stuck on personalities. For all of you who have businesses in this country – imagine all the money and resources you have put into building and running your own business or commercial enterprise, only for the country’s government to decide they are going to try to take your business from you so someone else can get it, leaving you with nothing. How can any right-thinking person in a free society not see what is outrageously wrong with something like that? Anyone who does not understand what such an attempt by the government does to our investment climate and our reputation – not to mention to employees and legitimate local investors and suppliers involved – is either not paying attention enough, or simply wants to side with propaganda on this matter no matter what. The primary role of government in free enterprise economies should be in seeing to it that private sector businesses have systemic support based on a level playing field conducive to launching whatever lawful ventures they choose. If the business makes it, it makes it; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t – but that is not supposed to be due to undue government interference. As for Baha Mar in particular – a mega development in the country’s number one industry – the government should have been seeing to it that the developers had and have such systemic support at all material times – especially since the Heads of Agreement for this project is between the Government of The Bahamas and the developers of Baha Mar and the government has chosen to attach so much of its country’s projected GDP to the private developer’s project and his investment. Baha Mar’s developers are not seeking to abandon their own development and investment – the government is unjustly seeking to have it taken from them. The government signs a Heads of Agreement with an investor, then tries to have the investor’s investment taken from him for others to get it? If that is not acting in worse than bad faith, what is?

As I have said before – what we are seeing here is a mixture of local politics, geo-politics and corruption, as well as key cross-spectrum failures and incompetencies. As far as local politics goes, the developer of Baha Mar was God’s gift to government until he made a move that politicians in power seemingly saw as a threat to their personal and political plans. This is what happens when politicians decide that you and/or something you have are to be the jewel of their crowns – once you cease to fit into their plans, they seek to take you down to protect or boost themselves. That being said, THIS BAHA MAR MATTER IS SO MUCH MORE SERIOUS THAN SIMPLY A HOTEL. This government’s actions in this matter, as in so many other matters, are killing this country to achieve their own personal and political ends.