Bradley B Roberts remarks to Mt. Moriah Monthly Branch Meeting

0
4363

PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts

Nassau, Bahamas – Minister Arnold Forbes is a model new generation leader who sent an FNM prince into retirement. He was young, ambitious and had a desire for public service and when given the opportunity, he worked hard and learned as much as he could as the Executive Chairman of BAIC in facilitating the aspirations of Bahamians wanting to enter and expand the agriculture, agribusiness and light manufacturing industries. His hard work did not go unnoticed and he was promoted to a cabinet minister with increasing levels of responsibilities. Arnold never complained but always looked for ways to strengthen his parliamentary team and fulfill his mandate.

This is in stark contrast to some who never thought it necessary to prove their competency in their assignment. They behaved as though the way to the top was to constantly attack the leader, the organization and colleagues in a public way while seeking to secure as many newspaper headlines and color photos as they possibly can. Needless to say ladies and gentlemen, this is not public service but signs of a dysfunctional personality driven by egomania.

I encourage you to walk door to door with Arnold, organize with Arnold and aggressively pursue a voter registration drive with him. Community outreach and organization are the essential keys to successful constituency politics as all politics are local.

Dr. Minnis was again in Grand Bahama and repeated his intent to derail and destroy the somewhat fragile economic recovery the PLP government has been leading for forty-five months. He said if given the opportunity as Prime Minister, he would “immediately” slash government revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Removing VAT from electricity, healthcare, education and additional food items would strip a sizable portion of the revenue base – critical revenue that made it possible for the government to eliminate 90% of the of the huge budget deficits left behind by Minnis and the FNM May 2012 and was critical to stabilizing the country’s public finances.

Minnis is more destructive and reckless than Hubert Ingraham, the Abaco Dragon. This proposal is worse than the infamous and ill-advised Stop, Review and Cancel policy of the FNM. This proposal threatens to plunge The Bahamas back into a double dip recession and return us to the dark days to record and unsustainable borrowings to meet the sharp revenue shortfalls that are sure to follow as night follows day. And it will because Minnis has no plan to recover this massive revenue shortfall.

Since immediately growing the economy by double digits is out of the question, the other viable options are drastic cuts in government services such as massive layoffs in the public service and or raising hundreds of millions of dollars through massive tax hikes and new taxes. In this fragile and delicate economic environment with its slow and protracted recovery, those options are akin to playing Russian roulette with the economy and lives of Bahamian families.

It is Russian roulette ladies and gentlemen because there is no free lunch anywhere. If you cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the public treasury, somebody somewhere has to somehow pay for the fiscal shortfall; there is no getting around this. Minnis is advised that governance and the economy of The Bahamas is not a game of monopoly, musical chairs or Fantasy Island. Fiscal responsibility and economic stewardship strike at the very foundation of our continued viability as a nation as the livelihood of tens of thousands of Bahamian families is at stake.

Minnis is further advised that populism is not leadership; preying on the angst of some is not leadership. Leadership involves making the right decision which often times are tough, unpopular but necessary for the long term and overall national good.

My advice to Bahamians is to leave it be and focus on growing the economy. Our proverbial hands are substantially out of the lion’s mouth as we are in recovery mode and the last thing our economy needs are thoughtless and reckless pandering at the tiller of the ship of state. Steady as she goes must be the watch words as we navigate this ship off the reefs and out to sea.

INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL AND CREDIT AGENCIES OF RECORD AND REPUTE AND WITH NO POLITICAL AXE TO GRIND HAVE CONFIRMED THAT THE MEDIUM TERM FISCAL CONSOLIDATION PLAN OF THE CHRISTIE WAS A SUCCESS.

People, FNM included, tend to have short memories and from time to time it is necessary to remind them from whence we have come in 45 months. Under the watch of the FNM, the national debt ballooned by 40% or $2 billion in 5 short years; government revenue performance was very poor; the overdraft facility was at several millions; tourism performance was at a 25 year low and the budget deficit was over $650 million per year. That was the terrible hand the Christie government was dealt on May 8th 2012.

The country was on the edge of a fiscal cliff and before the ink was dry on the Prime Minister Christie’s instruments of appointment, Standard and Poors came a calling and told him that if he did not reverse this dangerous trend, the country would face downgrades. His first order of business was to initially borrow $550 million to defray government expenses based on the FNM’s mismanagement of the economy and the country’s fiscal affairs.

The FNM walked away from the mess they created, never acknowledged responsibility and jeered and heckled the PLP government, often times dishonestly accusing them of creating the economic woes that they, the FNM, had left the country in.

Through a successful medium term fiscal consolidation plan, the government is on target to eliminate 90% of the fiscal deficit inherited and did so without impacting the job security of the public service. That in itself is a miracle.

This government has clearly demonstrated that The Bahamas is in good hands under the stewardship of the PLP government. All objective assessments confirm this. Even our staunchest political archrival Hubert Ingraham confirmed this about the first Christie government. He did so in 2007 from his feet in the House of Assembly. He said the economy was strong and that Christie did many correct decisions for the economy. He also characterized members of the first Christie cabinet as “smart.”

Tennyson Wells made a statement on a local talk show that I am compelled to publicly challenge. He said that while Minnis was a good businessman, Prime Minister Christie was not. Well, let us examine the facts.

The PLP government under Mr. Christie’s leadership created the Nassau Airport Development (NAD) Company that is 100% Bahamian owned and performing quite well while the FNM sold BTC at a fire sale price. It took Mr. Christie to get the majority economic interest in BTC and return it to the Bahamian people.

The PLP government under Christie’s leadership is reforming BEC through a management agreement while this valuable national asset remains 100% Bahamian owned. The Bahamas Power and Light will emerge strong, profitable, on the cutting edge of energy technology and 100% Bahamian owned.

I will go further, BAMSI is an excellent business model through which to build the agriculture and agribusiness sectors of the country. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN and regional ministers of agriculture agree on this point. We must remain focused and ignore the preachers of doom who keep betting against the Bahamian people.

So what bad business decision was Mr. Wells referring to? He must explain himself.

There could be no question about the business acumen, the wisdom, the decision making skills, the protection of Bahamian interests and leadership when it comes to Mr. Christie in dealing with the country’s affairs.

Dr. Minnis had the temerity to characterize Mr. Christie as a failed “caretaker leader” on another local talk show. Pray tell Dr. Minnis, what was left behind by the FNM to take care of on May 8, 2012? There was no fiscal headroom and the country was on the brink of economic collapse – left in a “wheelchair” by the outgoing FNM government according to Dr. Minnis. WAS IT THE WHEELCHAIR THAT THE FNM LEFT BEHIND FOR PLP TO TAKE CARE OF? THE BAHAMAS WAS SICK, DYING AND FAILING UNDER THE FNM AND THE FACTS ARE THERE FOR THE BLIND TO SEE. Minnis must explain this nonsensical “caretaker leader” comment he made about Prime Minister Christie.

My Brothers and Sister I would be remiss in not drawing to your attention that out spoken Richard Lightbourn MP Ft. Montagu in a recent newspaper article disclosed that certain members of the FNM Executive Committee labeled him as a racist. Further Leader of the Opposition Dr. Hubert Minnis also disclosed that Lightbourn response to his proposal for an Over the Hill program was racist. Clearly there is very deep seated serious division in the FNM when members of the FNM executive committee has labeled one of its Members of Parliament as a racist. A various serious charge.

Former Cabinet Minister Tennyson Wells is now throwing his support behind Dr. Hubert Minnis has caused much upheaval in a powerful segment of the FNM who sources I am told are prepared to offer a reward of $100,000 to keep Tennyson Well out of the FNM as he is likely to cause further division in the ranks of an already fractured Opposition. Can one imagine the ongoing bitter fight between Wells and MP Loretta Butler-Turner. There is no love there. I hope Wells has a strong jaw?

Mt. Moriah I am compelled to ask can all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men put the FNM Humpty Dumpty egg back together again. On a very serious note, can you imagine this scrap FNM crew being the government of our Bahamas?

I thank you for your indulgence ladies and gentlemen but there are just certain inarticulate pronouncements that must be challenged.

So my message to you is very simple. Arnold Forbes is a model new generation leader and his approach to his assignments in government and his constituency duties are admirable. Secondly, Rome was not built in a day. The government was dealt a terrible hand by the FNM, did not complain but went to work and made remarkable progress on behalf of the Bahamian people over the past 45 months. Much of the heavy lifting and the ground work place the country in a position to emerge from this recession and from its structural challenges a stronger and more prosperous nation.

Contrary to the naysayers Baha Mar will open this year and Bahamian Contractors will be paid.

Thank you and good night.
FlowTVISONAd

CASHNGO