Can anyone in the Minnis Government account for the millions in collected TRAVEL VISA TAXES?

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The Editor

Bahamas Press 30th June 2021.

Dear BP,

The FNM government came to power based on their mantra that the PLP was corrupt, Bahamians were corrupt, and the stables needed cleansing.

Indeed, the FNM in the run up to the 2017 general elections were relentless in accusing the PLP administration of public corruption and went as far as to accuse them of using VAT money for its campaign.

The fact that this accusation was proved to be a lie made no difference to them. Yet, when the then minister of finance finally admitted that the VAT was where it was supposed to be the allegations of PLP corruption continued unabated.

A docile, subservient and discredited media, so quick to disseminate FNM lies, and propaganda never bothered to correct the lies; in the minds of unrepentant FNM supporters and devotees it is still a fact.

The FNM allegations of corruption were not limited to Bahamian shores. The PM went abroad and continued to tarnish the reputation of all Bahamians. These allegations were reported in the Tribune of April 23rd, 2018” PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday he was being “conservative” with his estimation when he said The Bahamas loses $200m a year to corruption. His statement came during a press conference at the Lynden Pindling International Airport after trips to Peru and the United Kingdom. He said he chose the $200m figure after considering general global estimations of the cost of corruption which peg it at five to ten per cent of a country’s gross domestic product, as revealed during the Summit of Americas”.

And since no FNM diatribe would be complete without a smear on the PLP the PM had this gratuitous parting shot. “I went through it slowly so the opposition would understand what I said,” he said. “He should not be speaking in the dark. I’ll always remember a very excellent quote, I cannot remember the author, but I love the quote and it states, ‘I would prefer to get punched in the face by the truth than kissed on the cheeks by lies.’ You understand that.”

As recalled in today’s Nassau Guardian: Dr. Hubert Minnis and his Free National Movement (FNM) adopted these claims as the central theme of their campaign, playing on the emotions of a population burdened by taxes, a high cost of living and stagnant salaries, and increasingly sickened by the unaccountable and shameless actions of those in government. “Where the VAT money gone?” reverberated across the political landscape.

Before we continue this subject let us define what it meant by corruption. Transparency International gives the following examples of corruption:

1.public servants demanding or taking money or favours in exchange for services,

2.politicians misusing public money or granting public jobs or contracts to their sponsors, friends and families,

3.corporations bribing officials to get lucrative deals. Now we know from social media and other reporting that all these definitions of corruption have been alleged under this incompetent FNM government yet, its enablers in the media have yet to try to investigate the veracity of them. Clearly, they have no energy to investigate allegations other than baseless allegations of corruption against the PLP.

Historically, the two dailies have been rabidly anti-PLP. They have real problems with a political party which represents the welfare and rights of the Bahamian masses as, this runs counter to the aims of their sponsors and benefactors who have always treated the Bahamas as their very own playground. So, media approach this oligarchic group with fear and trepidation. Even when they try to be balanced in their reporting, some writers tie themselves into painful, self-serving narratives which all conclude in an anti-PLP smears.

They try to seem fair and balanced as in this attempt in the National Review of today’s date.” Firstly, on the matter of transparency, the government leaves itself wide open to suffer political damage – and more importantly, it insults and does a disservice to taxpayers – when it fails to disclose information the public has a legitimate right to access.

In this instance, it failed to be completely transparent on the arrangement it entered with KanOo by hiding behind the stated need to move swiftly to enter this kind of contract without going to tender. The Minnis administration has made some progress on legislation intended to create more transparent and accountable governance, but the culture of secrecy prevails, and the delayed enactment of the Public Procurement Act means a further delay in transparency”.

It continued “The government’s failure to be proactive in bringing to Parliament any report on the contracts it has entered during the pandemic might have allowed the corruption perception to sneak in.” Then came the obligatory anti-PLP smear.

“The other observation we make on this matter is that while there is a pressing need for transparency on procurement during the pandemic, and other decisions the government has made on our behalf, calls for transparency ought not be conflated with outright claims of corruption, as Davis so irresponsibly did. We believe his claims were more about winning political advantage than any genuine concern for the Bahamian people or the protection of our financial resources. That any principal of KanOo might be a close ally of the prime minister or connected with the governing party is not enough to prove any corrupt act or intent. The fake outrage on the part of the official opposition as its members allege wrongdoing also reveals a degree of hypocrisy”.

If the media does not see anything untoward in the KanOo deal and other rampant allegations of FNM nepotism and cronyism then they have utterly lost their moral compasses. This is the sad state of reporting in the Bahamas.

Even when the facts point to widespread allegations of corrupt practices as outlined in the Transparency International definition, writers very quickly try to make some historical link to the PLP. Each allegation of PLP corruption is “shocking” even when they are later proved to be unfounded.

Shocking allegations against former PLP ministers and executives fail in court even though so-called evidence against them is allegedly tampered with. These writers are incapable of admitting that their FNM darlings may be guilty of the same acts they have falsely ascribed to the PLP for generations; therefore, the media has no credibility amongst right thinking Bahamians.

Personally, I see them for what they truly are; shameless, fearful, political opportunists beholden to a decaying power structure which they seek to protect at the cost of their integrity and Bahamian democracy. They know that if this inept, incompetent administration falls so will they. In my opinion, they do not deserve the trust and confidence of Bahamians seeking truth.

Through their acts of omission, political spin, and bias they are undermining our democracy and sowing social discord. I know that religion has become more unfashionable under this regime as the atheists gain even more power, but Psalm 29 tells me that “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. Many seek the ruler’s favour; but every man’s judgment cometh from the LORD”.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Brown