A PLP mass rally. (file photo)
Nassau, Bahamas: The birds in the trees in the Fox Hill community could not sleep last night, Perry Christie was in the area, making noise as usual about the how broke Bahamians are now with Christmas fast approaching. Bahamas Press had turn in for the night, listening to the soothing music of Love97FM when suddenly a crackling in the radio interrupted, which was made out to be a live broadcast from Freedom Park! The said they [PLP] were celebrating 55 years as a party, sitting now in opposition thanks to Christie. [And we can be wrong in this, but not once do we remember hearing Sir Lynden Pindling name mentioned, ah well, celebrating the party and forgetting the founders.]
The PLP was there rallying, and oh well as we said, the birds in the trees could not sleep. With some persons braving the bitter cold, the PLP said they were presenting ‘New FACES’ to the party. But guess who was the keynote speaker? Yes you guessed it, Perry ‘the Pussy Cat’ Christie!
New face my foot! That red face has been around since Pindling came to power! But to our surprise as we listened, Christie was talking about ‘CHANGE’! We could not believe our ears. Could the PLP believe the people of this country would fall for that message, when the bearer of the message [Christie] could not ever embody the word? Change from WHAT, The Lackey #2?
We listened even more quietly as Fred Mitchell warned the party that CHANGE is coming and that THEY [the current leadership] should prepare for it, and prepare to accept it. A CHILL OF SILENCE FILLED THE COMMUNITY WHEN THOSE WORDS WERE SPOKEN. That warning from the Fox Hill MP was the purest of the entire evening.
The PLP cannot and will not bring ‘Change’ to the Bahamas if Christie is at the head, and looking at the state Ingraham has brought the country to, all we at Bahamas Press says is this, ‘da people gat plenty hell ta catch’!
Remarks by Rt. Hon. Perry Christie MP
Progressive Liberal Party Leader
My Brothers and Sisters here in Fox Hill on this cool November evening: thank you for coming out to be with us on this occasion. In spite of the tough times that face us all, it is good that we gather in this fashion. It is good for the spirit and we must make it good for our future.
As we just heard from my colleague; our brother Fred Mitchell – don’t mind the constant negativity of the news media toward the PLP. Indeed – it has always been thus.
Let us remember instead that the power of the Progressive Liberal Party is and has always been the power of the very people of The Bahamas.
We can depend on PLPs in our many thousands, to get the message out, through meetings, through technology and the message is that the PLP is ready to help.
We are ready with ideas for the future and we are ready to do our part to stand against the threats to our economy and the future of the Bahamian people.
The PLP will shortly be embarking on a course of public discussions of the impact of this crisis on our economy and on Bahamians.
Meetings like this, then, are the way forward. For serious people of good intentions to come together to share and exchange ideas about the future of our country.
I want to thank, especially, the Progressive Liberal Party Branches of Marathon and Fox Hill for this evening, where we show The Bahamas that the PLP is ever ready to answer the needs of Bahamians everywhere.
I offer a special welcome to the thousands of PLPs and other Bahamians tuned into their radios.
You have heard tonight that the PLP is ready to join any worthwhile effort to do whatever we can to help our country escape the worst of these economic troubles.
But for a moment, tonight, let us permit ourselves to acknowledge that it has been 55 years since the founding of this great party.
For those of you who wish to remember, I recommend that you go online to www.myplp.com where you can visit a retrospective in photographs compiled by our webmaster Andrew Burrows and read an essay by Faith Hall.
But tonight, what I will say about the past 55 years of PLP history is that for 55 years we have faced the challenge of ensuring a bright future for The Bahamas and all Bahamians.
In the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s we built the middle class in The Bahamas. But now in this economic crisis that is coming upon us, many people are threatened with slipping backwards.
People are threatened with slipping backward from the ranks of the middle class in terms of being able to afford to maintain their families at a decent quality of life; in terms of being able to afford the school fees, which mean a proper university education for their children.
Yes, the list of PLP successes over the years is long and I need not repeat them all here tonight. What we must resolve to do here tonight is to dedicate ourselves to solutions for the future.
The economic news is going from bad to worse daily. You all would have heard the latest news that the rating agency Standard and Poor’s have downgraded the outlook for the Bahamian economy from stable to negative.
We have also heard that the GDP growth of The Bahamas will be lower than many countries in the region except for Jamaica.
There is a certain reality that the government of The Bahamas must face and that is that The Bahamas is a more costly destination, which has lagged behind competing countries in terms of hotel rooms constructed.
My government recognised these limitations and encouraged the construction of mixed use developments with our anchor project policy.
In part, this was aimed at separating our future from heavy dependence on traditional tourism almost exclusively from the US, which makes us so vulnerable in the current climate.
Having at first denied that there was a problem, after having missed the signals that the economy needed care if the growth prospects were to be realized, we now have the government announcing one knee jerk reaction after another instead of a carefully thought out plan.
In many cases, we have the announcement of some proposed plan with no details about how these programmes are to be implemented or financed.
The Bahamian people do not need to have their hopes raised only to be dashed. We now know that, contrary to the reported announcement made in Washington, there has been no mortgage assistance forthcoming from the government for persons having difficulty paying their mortgages.
Thankfully, some of our banks and other financial institutions are demonstrating compassion and forbearance toward their clients who are experiencing financial difficulty.
We hear about the notion of an unemployment assistance programme. People need relief and we support any assistance that can be afforded to them.
Again, they do not need to be led to believe that relief is in sight when in fact that relief may be a very long time in coming, if it comes at all.
The FNM has demonstrated that it has no interest in seeking a national consensus on how to proceed.
The government have seemingly ignored calls not only from the PLP but also from the church, the Chamber of Commerce and numerous leaders in the private sector to convene a national forum to map the way forward for the Bahamian economy.
US President elect Barack Obama has determined that he will govern with humility and common sense and said that wisdom is not the monopoly of one political party.
That is an example of the wise and secure leadership that this county needs now.
The crisis that is upon us is historic in scope and nature. The coming economic crisis is commonly acknowledged as the worst since the great depression. Greater even – for us – than the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
However in the great depression, many Bahamians were employed only part time in a then seasonal tourism industry.
Now over 60% of our GDP and employment depends directly or indirectly upon tourism.
But the government seems not to be serious. We are left to publicly discuss our ideas and hope that they hear these suggestions.
We support publicly funded relief for unemployed persons with no other recourse. We encourage the government to ensure that any plan contemplated, in no way undermines the solvency of the National Insurance Fund.
We have previously called for the government to restart the stalled capital works programme much of which the PLP had left in place.
We note the government’s stated intention to now take this advice.
We reiterate our previous call for the government to ensure that the benefits of this spending by government of public funds, reach as many as possible. This includes the creation of jobs for Bahamians.
However, let me warn that for the benefits of this spending to be restricted to the privileged few, those who already have plenty; would be a travesty.
The former minister of Tourism has publicly advanced some very good ideas on how to revive the tourism industry. This is the time for all of us to unite to ensure that The Bahamas once again becomes the destination of choice and that our visitors return again and again.
That is why I reiterate my call tonight for a publicly announced task force of tourism and hotel industry experts for the preparation and implementation of all necessary measures to boost tourist arrivals, expenditure, hotel occupancy and the maintenance of the highest possible staff levels.
We have developed a detailed list that we will be discussing in public meetings to come on solutions to this crisis.
The City of Nassau redevelopment as envisioned by my government is now a ‘must do’ element in the overall effort to fight this downturn.
The government is asking persons to tighten their belts and eliminate reckless spending. The government must lead by example.
The government must ensure that in its contract awarding process, in its hiring of consultants, in its restart of the capital works projects, in its running of the government; that value for money is received and that persons engaged are fairly engaged and qualified to competently perform the functions for which they have been contracted.
These are serious problems that demand serious solutions.
It is very telling that in the face of this kind of situation, the current prime minister Hubert Ingraham would waste people’s time in a useless, fruitless exercise talking about whether or not the country would have been better under my leadership and trying to change the facts of the past.
If you want to know whether our country is worse off under Hubert Ingraham as Prime Minister than when I was Prime Minister just 18 months ago; anyone can tell you that; just stick your hand in your pocket.
Just look at your bankbook! Just look at the expressions of worry and concern on the faces of your family.
This government tries to speak the language of struggling Bahamians, but talk is cheap.
Government’s first duty – at almost any cost, even by financial inducements – is to try to protect jobs and the pride and dignity that come with them. This they have not done.
When our former minister of state for finance even suggested this, he was attacked by the current holder of that post.
Instead of struggling to protect jobs, this government has played fast and loose with the future of The Bahamas, cancelling contracts, not pursuing the privatisation of BTC and on and on.
However, it is not the past, but the future that we must be concerned with.
PLP itself must look to the future. We must continue to prepare ourselves for the future.
For the PLP:
• Every available informational avenue, technology and otherwise, must be used to connect with the people;
• No public issue affecting Bahamians must go unaddressed;
• No cry for help must remain unheard;
• No false and self serving political challenge from the other side must go unanswered!
The Bahamas now needs the PLP and our ideas. Struggling Bahamians in the middle class need the PLP.
Single mothers and working families need the PLP.
The nation needs its leaders now to embrace innovative and creative solutions to the problems we face. This will engender the confidence that is needed to build and reassure ourselves of a bright future.
Thank you and goodnight.