Chairman Moss: “…Should it ever be determined that my services as Chairman of NIB are no longer required, then it will be my honour to continue to serve the people of Marco City, and the wider Bahamas, from my seat in Parliament.”
GREGORY K. MOSS – MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, MARCO CITY CONSTITUENCY
1ST JANUARY, 2013
Much has been said about me in the local media over the course of the last two months. My name has been vilified and I have watched, initially with interest and later with concern, as those who are charged to respond to those allegations have, for whatever reason, either failed to do so or actually added to the vilification. As the New Year has dawned so has my personal conviction that enough is enough.
On 27th December, 2012 the local media reported the Prime Minister as having said that I no longer have a NIB credit card. That statement, if correctly reported, must have been inadvertent as it is untrue. But of more concern to me is the fact that that statement taken together with the comment which was attributed to the Prime Minister to the effect that and that “there has been a lot of freewheeling” going on at NIB, if correctly reported, are pregnant with false innuendoes and implications as they would naturally be read by the public as suggesting that there is something untoward about my having a corporate card as Chairman of NIB or that I have misused an otherwise legitimate possession of such a credit card. Accordingly, I have waited for approximately one week to see whether a retraction would have been published by the local media as to those statements or whether the Prime Minister or Minister with responsibility for National Insurance would have corrected the false innuendoes which surround those statements. Unfortunately, none of those things have happened. As a result, I now consider it imperative that I not only correct those statements, and the innuendoes which surround them, but that I also now comment upon the various spurious and defamatory comments which have been made concerning my actions at NIB since in or about November, 2012.
Let me start by making abundantly clear two things concerning which everyone who knows me should, without equivocation, be aware: first, that save for my relationship with my God and my love for those whom I love, I value my personal reputation and integrity above all else and will not allow them to become besmirched, whether by act or omission, whether intentionally or inadvertently, by anyone whomsoever; and, secondly, that although I am a fervent supporter of the stated philosophy of the PLP, whose genesis and character has been woven with the thread of the common man, above all else my political philosophy is that of a fervent nationalist. Those two statements will forecast and colour every other comment that I shall make concerning this matter.
In addressing the various scandalous, outrageous and spurious allegations which have been made against me, and which have only been tepidly addressed by those who are charged to speak in answer to them, I will first structure my comments in addressing the three specific allegations which have been made against me concerning my chairmanship of NIB and will then will address my more pressing concern as to the endemic degeneration of political discourse, and politics in general, in The Bahamas.
As to the three specific allegations which have been made against me, they are the matter of the use of the NIB corporate card, the matter of the issuance of a NIB letter of guarantee to Doctors Hospital and the allegation that I have personally made various internal changes to the governance and functioning of NIB.
Regarding the corporate card matter, I confirm that I do have an NIB corporate. It was provided to me by Director Algernon Cargill as a part of a package of materials which he said were to be given to me as Chairman of NIB. In addition to the corporate card, I also received an IPhone , an IPad and the use of a company car while on NIB business in Nassau. I have only used the corporate card for NIB business, I have never (for personal security reasons) felt comfortable using the IPhone, I use the IPad for NIB business and I use the company car while I am in Nassau. Otherwise it is parked at the airport.
The NIB corporate card is only used when I travel to Nassau unexpectedly for unscheduled meetings or when, as in the past, as a part of my review of suspected wrongdoings at NIB, I chose to travel to Nassau unofficially so as to be able to meet with persons with some degree of confidentiality to discuss those suspicions of wrongdoing. Otherwise, all bookings of reservations are made for me directly by NIB.
Concerning the use of the NIB corporate card, apart from charges for hotel and airfare, since having been provided with that card, I have incurred a total, and only a total, of Eight Hundred and Eleven Dollars and Ten cents ($811.10) to that card for charges for food and drinks at the assigned hotel. Of that sum, One Hundred Dollars and Six Cents ($100.06) was for room service for me after late night Board meetings and the balance was for business meetings which I had at the assigned Hotel. Nonetheless, I disclosed and reimbursed the full sum of Eight Hundred and Eleven Dollars and Ten cents ($811.10) to NIB as is evidenced by NIB receipts No. 016525 dated 21st August, 2012 in the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) and No. 016557 dated 11th September, 2012 in the sum of Three Hundred and Eleven Dollars and Ten Cents ($311.10). There is no issue with my use of the NIB corporate card. All parties concerned are well aware of that fact. All relevant documentation are in place and that matter has been viewed and reviewed to the point of boredom. For anyone to be suggesting, or to be catering to any suggestion, that I have misused the NIB corporate card is, at the very least, uninformed in the extreme. Further, let me be perfectly frank. It is insulting in the extreme to suggest, explicitly or implicitly, that I need the facility of a NIB credit card for my personal affairs or that I need to steal Eight Hundred and Eleven Dollars and Ten cents ($811.10). I am an Attorney of 21 years standing who owns his own law firm and am a businessman of some success. As a result, I am more than concerned that the PLP has not hitherto responded to this phantom of an allegation in the dismissive, definitive and conclusive manner that it warrants.
Concerning the issuance of a letter of guarantee to Doctors Hospital for Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000), that allegation is true. But the aspersion connected with it is patently and demonstrably false. The facts are that some months ago, on a Saturday, I received a distraught telephone call from a lady concerning her mother who was scheduled to have heart valve surgery at Doctors Hospital the following Monday morning at 8am. I did not personally know the lady or her mother. The lady mentioned to me that her mother was in dire need of the heart valve surgery, that the total cost was Thirty Five Thousand Dollars ($35,000), that the family had only Fifteen Thousand Dollars and that the surgeon had made it abundantly clear that unless he was paid the full sum that day he would not prepare for, or conduct, the surgery. I telephoned the mother’s local physician to ensure that what I had been told was correct. I then called the surgeon at Doctors Hospital and offered to personally pay him an additional Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) to conduct the surgery but stated that I could not get a cheque to him before the Monday morning of the surgery. To my utter shock, the surgeon refused to accept my promise to pay him and repeated his statement to me that he would not perform the surgery unless he had been paid in full by the end of that day. As Chairman of NIB, I am vested with the authority to commit NIB to any contract for not more than Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000) on condition that I must report the expenditure to the Board of NIB at it next sitting. I telephoned an executive of NIB and directed her to issue a letter of guarantee to Doctors Hospital for the sum of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) on condition that I would report it to the Board and ask that the Board approve it as a donation failing which I would pay it personally. The letter of Guarantee was issued and the surgery was performed. The woman lived. She is alive today. She, her children and grandchildren are grateful. I then decided to not burden NIB with the payment and elected not to ask for it to be approved as a donation. I paid the Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000) myself. I paid it through a third party in an attempt (which has obviously now failed) to maintain my anonymity and reimbursed the third party with a cheque of my own from my personal account. None of these matters are in dispute and, again, all parties concerned are well aware of the facts. Again, for anyone to be suggesting, or to be catering to any suggestion, that I have misused NIB funds in saving that woman’s life is, at the very least, uninformed in the extreme.
Concerning the allegation I have personally made various internal changes to the governance and functioning of NIB, one need only consult the National Insurance Act and the Minutes of the various meetings of the Board of Directors of NIB, and consider the characters of the persons who sit as Directors of NIB, to know that such an allegation is utter nonsense. I am the Chairman of an Eleven (11) member Board of Directors. I have one vote except in the instance of a tie, when I have a casting vote. There has never been a tie vote at the Board. In fact, as one would observe if one were merely to read the minutes, all issues before the Board are thoroughly, and in fact exhaustively, debated. There is no one that controls the Board. The Board consists of an array of independent, opinionated, forceful personalities. It is the most talented Board that I have ever had the pleasure to sit on and I am deeply honoured to sit as its Chairman. That fact alone, and the gravity of the work that we are charged with doing, makes my salary of Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($250.00) a week well worth it. We take our work, and the preserving of the people’s Fund very seriously.
That leads me to the more pressing issue to me: that of the endemic degeneration of political discourse, and politics in general, in The Bahamas. For some decades now we appear to have substituted sensationalism for substance and titillation for truth in our political discourses. Publicly, at least, we have made politic into a gladiator sport and privately, behind closed doors, we have made in into mass entertainment which appears designed to dull the senses of the masses as a substitute for true debate and leadership. There is no vision in slapstick comedy. It is just entertainment. But we cannot build a nation by substituting slapstick comedy for vision and leadership. While we throw jeers and our political opponents or political challengers our country’s trajectory is a clear downward spiral into the abyss. Added to that dire picture is a growing concern which I have as to the extent to which the corruption machinery in this country appears to operate across party lines and the degree to which it appears to operate to perpetuate corruption and to suppress the exposure of corruption through attempts at character assassination. That last thought is particularly troubling to me. But I will leave it there. I do have broad shoulders. But I also do have my limits of tolerance. It is time for us to get to the business for which we were elected and to do what we are placed and called to do to protect our people and to develop our country.
There are serious issues facing us and rather than engaging in the usual slapstick entertainment in Parliament it would do us well to confront and overcome those serious issues. The major issue is obviously the economy and the underlying demand that we revise our fiscal policies appears to continue to elude us. Must we become another Haiti or Jamaica before we awake from our malaise and make the responsible decisions that we are compelled to make? Do we really need a Moody’s, a Standard and Poors or an IMF to tell us that we cannot continue along the path that we are presently travelling before we will change that path and make the decisions that we must? At the last budget exercise our National Debt was approximately $4 Billion. We then borrowed another $500 Million which will result in a national debt of at least $4.5 Billion by the end of the 2012/2013 Fiscal cycle. If we borrow another $500 Million a year for the next four years (being a best case scenario along a present fiscal trajectory) our national debt will be at least $6.5 Billion by the next election. Under that scenario, our credit will no doubt have again been downgraded, our governmental borrowing will have become more expensive, our local bank liquidity will have been decimated and we will be in the midst of severe austerity measures and pressures to the parity of our Bahamian Dollar to the United States Dollar. And that is not all that confronts us: we need to equitably reform our tax system; we need to have a national dialogue on crime and punishment; we have serious challenges to our educational system; we need to make some responsible decisions regarding our immigration policy; we have to reform our banking system and review our landowning policies to financially empower our people; we need to deepen our democracy and meaningfully entrench the rights and freedoms of our people; we have major decisions to make regarding the development of Grand Bahama. We do not need a crystal ball to see these things or a foreign consultant to tell us about them. The writing is clearly on the wall. And we have the means and the time to fix them. But we need to act. Not to continue substituting political entertainment for political leadership.
My conscience is clear as is my resolution that should it ever be determined that my services as Chairman of NIB are no longer required, then it will be my honour to continue to serve the people of Marco City, and the wider Bahamas, from my seat in Parliament. Otherwise, I will continue to root out corruption at NIB and continue to do my part to safeguard and strengthen the NIB Fund for present and future generations of Bahamians without fear and without favour.