As the coronavirus pandemic races on devastating the Bahamas it is clear that the Minnis administration still has no plan; or do they? The reluctance by the government to ramp up testing mimics the American strategy which is that testing gives the true extent of the Covid infection problem so, do not do it. This is a political decision which will resonate for generations in our country. Simple logic tells us that if you do not know the extent or nature of a problem then you cannot solve it.
Consequently, the infection rate and Covid related deaths continue to increase. But believe it or not there is another, more dangerous and insidious consequence of this government’s incompetence and lack of empathy for the 89% who voted them in; and the remainder who have to suffer because of this decision. While we were locked down like prisoners and being fed all sort of nonsense one of the greatest shifts of capital assets in Bahamian economic history was gathering pace.
The governments lockdown despite the virus being centred mostly in New Providence was applied to all islands and businesses. Bahamians who struggled to start businesses to feed their families, house themselves, educate their children and employ other Bahamians found themselves unable to do so virtually overnight. Businessmen with prime business locations especially shopping malls now fear eviction for arrears of rent which they cannot pay. Sadly, many Bahamians who have pledged as security their homes and business assets to secure bank loans are in danger of losing both.
These are all the consequence of poor governance and a lack of knowledge as to how the Bahamian economy operates. This incompetence threatens to wipe out the gains of the Bahamian middle class, permanently increase unemployment and make formerly proud homeowners and employers’ renters again. It will also introduce the era of the carpetbagger who, with the assistance of their friendly lending institutions will swoop in and buy these assets for a song leaving many Bahamians still indebted to them for the balance.
When you add to this a projected national debt of $9 billion for 2020, unemployment in the double digits, a collapsed health care system, people living in cars, on the streets, a proliferation of street beggars you wonder if this government really thinks that this is all a joke. I ask that question because the Minister of Finance and his cabinet colleagues always appear to be enjoying a private joke.
They may be right and, the jokes on the Bahamian taxpayer and voters.
Michael J. Brown