Prime Minister Ingraham is between a rock and a hard place

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Hubert Ingraham

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Editor,

Would you please allow a layman to give his views in your prestigious daily on why the government is struggling to pay its massive debt. Thank you. Perhaps all of the opposition parties will pummel the Ingraham administration over the recent downgrade of our economy’s outlook from stable to negative by the international credit rating agency Moody’s. This action by Moody’s comes as no surprise to me. What surprised me,though,was the fact that it took this long to happen. Moody’s has expressed concerns over this nation’s ability to service its massive national debt,which has already climbed over the 4.1 billion dollar mark. The FNM has already borrowed a whopping $1.5 billion since coming to office in 2007.The PLP government borrowed $800 million between 2002 and 2007.In just 9 years the national debt has increased by $2.3 billion.

I don’t believe that any Bahamian government can ever reduce the national  debt to zero. The government has been running massive deficits in recent years because of its inability to raise enough revenue to meet its financial obligations. Too many big businesses owe the government unpaid taxes and other fees,but they are never really pressured to pay their bills. How many of the large hotels in Nassau owes BEC and Water and Sewage? How many businesspersons have avoided paying their National Insurance contributions?

This has been a perennial problem in this country for many years; and it has taken a tremendous toll on the Treasury. The FNM government is between a proverbial rock and a hard place. If PM Ingraham raise taxes like he did last year,he will be lambasted by the opposition parties for placing an additional burden on the middleclass and poor. If he doesn’t raise taxes,then agencies like Moody’s will continue to breath down his neck for not doing enough to raise revenues. If PM Ingraham resorts to reducing the size of the massive civil service, he will lose the election. When PM Ingraham cut the staff at the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas,he was heavily criticized by many. Even the church took exception to the downsizing exercise at ZNS.If PM Ingraham doesn’t downsize the bloated civil service or raise taxes,then this economy will continue along this destructive path. Any government that lays off hundreds of its workers would be committing political suicide. Prime Minister Ingraham is well aware of this.

The government has to meet a huge payroll each month for nearly 20,000 civil servants. Additionally,the government is set to hire some 3,000 unemployed Bahamians for one year through its National Job Readiness and Training Program. This will cost $25 million. The Ingraham administration has already given away nearly $22 million to over 15,000 unemployed Bahamians through its Government Unemployment Benefits Program. Even today there are hundreds,if not thousands of unemployed Bahamians who are depending on food vouchers from Social Services. I know of persons whose utilities are being paid by Social Services.

Furthermore,there are thousands of retirees and senior citizens who receive a pension every month from the Treasury. There are many former Members of Parliament,government ministers and senators who are also receiving a handsome pension every month. Some of these former officials are getting as much as $8,000. The government also has to find money in order to maintain all of its hospitals, clinics, schools, administrative offices, embassies, airports, harbors, roads, police and fire stations and packinghouses. Let us not forget Fox Hill Prison. There are approximately 1200 inmates at that prison. It costs the government around $15,000 a year to maintain each prison inmate.

Corporations like BEC,Water and Sewage, ZNS and Bahamasair have all been a financial drain on the Treasury for years. Bahamasair has never made one farthing for this country,yet over 600 or so Bahamians are employed at that airline. If Bahamasair was owned by a private citizen, they would have folded up shop long ago. But successive governments have kept the financially strapped airline in business for the past three decades. This makes absolutely no sense at all. Moreover, the government is repeatedly harassed by civil service unions for pay increases, financial bonuses and other increments. If the government fails to meet their demands, then it will pay dearly at the polls. The Treasury has also lost around $100 million in the Educational Guaranteed Loan Program. That program has been suspended by the government; because many of the of loan holders are either unwilling or unable to repay their obligation (Hon.Desmond Bannister).

The civil service in this country is just too massive. The Bahamas government is simply unsustainable. This country can no longer afford it. We can no  longer afford to pay 41 Members of Parliament, 16 senators and 17 cabinet ministers. A bloated government has caused The Bahamas to head down this slippery slope of financial ruin. Both the FNM and the PLP must bear some responsibility for the financial downgrade. They increased the size of government over the last 40 plus years. Many Bahamians were given government jobs by their MPs for supporting them on election day.

There are only two things that the Ingraham administration can do to get this nation’s finances on the right path again. But I seriously doubt that the FNM government will even consider doing any of them. That would cost them the election. In the final analysis, PM Ingraham is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Yours truly,
Kevin Evans
A Bahamian who is disillusioned with big government

  • Well we really need a government that can help Bahamians. It’s obvious that the work of the PLP & FNM over the years has left much to be desired.

    Why are we borrowing so much money with no means of paying? I guess in a few years National Insurance
    will have be broke. We need a real plan for recovery not just band aids to get us through the election.

    Now we have less jobs and more foreigners. The middle class is about gone much longer lines at Social Services. BTC (our money maker) sold for half price. Power Company in GB killing the people.

    Don’t stop cutting seats till we get rid of some of these MPs in GB cause for the life of me I can’t see why we need more than 3 – West End & Bimini Central and East End. Lets stop wasting the people’s money.
    These lawyers who been in government for 10 & 20 years needs to go….PLEASE step aside.

    JUST DON’T VOTE FOR ANY GOVERNMENT YOU VOTED FOR BEFORE. THEY HAVE DONE THEIR BEST.

  • When you have Laing as minister of state for finance you know we were in trouble. But these guys are straight if the bahamas collapse.

  • Kevin what you have presented is nothing new and any half wit knows the missteps of this Foreign National Mess Govt.
    Examine what you have written and think about the wasted funds eg 20Mil to private special interest for the ne port; where did the proceeds from the BTC fire sale go; NIB largest collection of outstandings ever etc.
    Now hopefully you can see that this Govt wishes to do no better it is a game to keep its people down and out because they can say see what a good Govt we are.
    Vote red cause Bahamians need more abuse before they can get up and go for themselves but just remember that a Govt that put racist on your money, who cant collect garbage is not a Govt you should want to Govern you or even a damn dog!

  • Bahamians must wonder how they suddenly went from being first class Bahamians to second class by this Haitian loving “outgoing” and broke FNM cabinet. The public treasury is broke and had it not been for the Chinese government the Bahamas would be bankrupt.
    This “outgoing” FNM cabinet has not created one single new job since 2007, while thousands of paychecks have been lost to Bahamian families. No, not one single new job has been created, excluding their friends in the civil service. Why should civil servants be guaranteed jobs and paychecks while all the other folks have no jobs?
    God help us if they think we should be granting Bahamian citizenship’s to Haitians with the total lack of skills they bring to our economy need. This “outgoing” FNM cabinet enjoys providing cheap plots of land and helping to build Homes for “foreigners.” On day soon, come the 2012 General Elections this “outgoing” FNM cabinet is going to find out that their Bahamian brothers and sisters are not a bunch of asses.
    Here they are doing whatever one man says they are to say and do, but same man does not even have any respect for them as men and women. What a bunch of jokers they have become.

  • something wrong with some of us u no! this man than f-up the country to the core and them blind jackass still want him back! will suck my mar a&* y’all joking aye? this so call leader need to go b4 the firing quad for raping the bahamians with no condom!!

  • Bahamians must wonder how they suddenly went from being first class Bahamians to second class by this Haitian loving “outgoing” and broke FNM cabinet. The public treasury is broke and had it not been for the Chinese government the Bahamas would be bankrupt.
    This “outgoing” FNM cabinet has not created one single new job since 2007, while thousands of paychecks have been lost to Bahamian families. No, not one single new job has been created, excluding their friends in the civil service. Why should civil servants be guaranteed jobs and paychecks while all the other folks have no jobs?
    God help us if they think we should be granting Bahamian citizenship’s to Haitians with the total lack of skills they bring to our economy need. This “outgoing” FNM cabinet enjoys providing cheap plots of land and helping to build Homes for “foreigners.” On day soon, come the 2012 General Elections this “outgoing” FNM cabinet is going to find out that their Bahamian brothers and sisters are not a bunch of asses.
    Here they are doing whatever one man says they are to say and do, but same man does not even have any respect for them as men and women. What a bunch of jokers they have become.

  • Bahamians must wonder how they suddenly went from being first class Bahamians to second class by this Haitian loving “outgoing” and broke FNM cabinet. The public treasury is broke and had it not been for the Chinese government the Bahamas would be bankrupt.
    This “outgoing” FNM cabinet has not created one single new job since 2007, while thousands of paychecks have been lost to Bahamian families. No, not one single new job has been created, excluding their friends in the civil service. Why should civil servants be guaranteed jobs and paychecks while all the other folks have no jobs?
    God help us if they think we should be granting Bahamian citizenship’s to Haitians with the total lack of skills they bring to our economy need. This “outgoing” FNM cabinet enjoys providing cheap plots of land and helping to build Homes for “foreigners.” On day soon, come the 2012 General Elections this “outgoing” FNM cabinet is going to find out that their Bahamian brothers and sisters are not a bunch of asses.
    Here they are doing whatever one man says they are to say and do, but same man does not even have any respect for them as men and women. What a bunch of jokers they have become.

    • You make very strong statements which seem to me to based on opinion and not facts but that aside, what are your suggestions for progressing the country as we move forward??? I find it more interesting to discuss solutions for the issues rather than just beating up on any 1 government….unless our governmental system changes, they (in my opinion) are ALL the same!! So again, what are some solutions???…..

  • this man borrow 1.5 billion dollars in four years yet bahamians has to pay it back yet no work, crime, and moody all over are ***.

  • this man borrow 1.5 billion dollars in four years yet bahamians has to pay it back yet no work, crime, and moody all over are ass.

  • SOLUTIONS are as follows-# 1-sell 10,000 acres of crown land to the BAHAMIAN public,this will raise 100 million dollars.invest some 25 million dollars of this in cannery and bottling plants in ANDROS,ABACO AND ELEUTHERA.North Andros produces a HUGE amount of produce.#-2 sell the remaining shares of BTC to BAHAMIANS ONLY.This will generate another 200 million dollars for the government.#-3 Give BAHAMIAN companies and individuals the right to construct toll roads,docks,airports and power plants.This will GREATLY reduce government’s capital expenditure.#-4 Close BAHAMASAIR AND ZNS DOWN.There are enough BAHAMIAN Airlines to service the family islands and the Florida,and eastern USA market.Finally,government needs to reward PRODUCTIVE BAHAMIANS NOT PARTY LOYALISTS AND ESTABLISH AN ELITE PUBLIC SCHOOL.

    • Great suggestions Kevin McKenzie. However there is no need to sell Bahamians their own land, and only the well off would be able to afford to do so anyway.
      It would be much more empowering to legislate fee simple title to the acres of ‘generation property’ already owned by Bahamian families, and that have remained dormant and unproductive for generations.

    • McKenzie, didi you know that insurances will not pay unless you travel on a commercial airline – check it out! Did you know that we have only one local commercial airline? No? Do you know why? Do you know the cost to establish a cannery? Do you really want to dilule the shares of BTC by selling them to (potentially) thousands of shareholders? Where will Bahamianas construct these docks, airports and toll roads? Where did you come up with 100 million for 10000 acres of land? Average price of land on New Providence is $9 per square foot – but there is no land here. Average price of land on Family Islands is $3 per square foot. Should we also give Bahamians he right to erect traffic signals, establish private police force, collect customs duty, etc? What you are proposing sounds like anarchy to me

  • when those around you are able to either temporarily or on an ongoing basis to connect with you at a human level they will makeup or project their own stories about you.

  • W

    MR INGRUM! YOU CAN’T LEAD THE PEOPLE IF YOU DON’T LOVE THE PEOPLE. YOU CAN’T SAVE THE PEOPLE IF YOU DON’T SERVE THE PEOPLE.

  • For years it has been said by successive governments that our current tax structure is unsustainable and the tax base that it covers is dwindling every year. It is fool hearty for any government to think that by solely relying on customs duties for government revenue as we have done is a viable option in today’s economic climate. A credible decision as to what type of tax structure whether it be a VAT or a National Sales Tax should be implemented.

  • Cindy Adderley

    Kevin Evans you seem to be the only living soul in the Bahamas whom is able to see what is going on in our country.This mess we are in were created by both Governments.But everybody wants to blame Prime Minister Ingraham who has done above and beyond the call off duty.I thank God for him everyday.We as Bahamians need to read instead of listening to the noise in the market and than they’ll know what is going on .We as Bahamians wants the Government to take care of us and not have to pay back a red cent we everything for free.THANKS FOR THIS LETTER.
    READ BAHAMAS READ.IT HELPS US TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOING ON IN OUR COUNTRY.

  • He need to stay between a rock and a hard place.cause all he doing is spending our money in abaco getting jobs for them coopers town people and a few FNMs.. airport.. hospital.. goverment complex.. roads.. and so much more.What bout us in Cat Island .. Grand Bahama .. MR PM WE NEED JOBS TOO. The PLP and DNA will get our votes.

  • What the hell is he talking about, he just hire a million Customs and Immigration officers from Abaco to secure his seat. The Airport he’s building over there could be privatise with agreements to build something brand new and not through the public purse. But he rather sealed the deal so he and his boy could make more money. He encourage the migration of foreigners to this country which causes our wages to remain low. And he fail to change the method of taxation so his earnings cant be touch. so who is he trying ta fool.