Letter to the Editor
By: Forrester J Carroll J.P
“It’s a matter of trust,” they said. “You can trust us (FNM)” they said, but low and behold, ten months later, no less than three Ministers, apparently, caught up with their knuckles in the cookie jar.
We just can’t seem to leave other people things alone. Laing, who should be leading them down the path of righteousness, seems to be the head Negro trying to beat them to the cookie jar. What has happened to the high standards we were taught to adhere to?
Lying, stealing and such like were taboo when we were children, being reared by our parents; and disrespect for our elders too. I note, with anger, Laing’s tone of voice and arrogance, directed at his seniors on the Opposition side in the Hon. House of Assembly. He displays a degree of rudeness never seen before in our parliament. He is a rude young man. Mama use to tell us that manners and respect would take us through life; without it we are bound to crash.
Hubert told the Bahamian people that he was running on a “trust” agenda. Well, I would like to see just what he is going to do with his Minister of State for Finance.
You haven’t forgotten the “MonaVie” drink matter, have you Hubert? Remember the drink that Laing allegedly ordered customs to classify as a fruit juice so his sister-in-law could import it and pay 10% customs duty, instead of the 45% duty rate she should have paid? What if Laing’s brother wants to import a car valued at more than $25,000.00 and wants to pay at the duty rate of 45% plus 7% instead of the 75% plus 7% he should have to pay? Will Laing be permitted to get away with causing instructions to be passed to the customs department to have that vehicle classified under the tariff heading which would allow his brother to pay the lower rate?
I wish to know; I wish to know if this is what we’ve come to in this country.
There is, I am told, an epidemic of “Revenue Hijacking” going on in the Customs department, especially at ports where there is little or no oversight by Senior Officers. In some cases it is well organized and involves, some very senior Officers. Sadly, this is a culture that has developed over the years, which makes it quite challenging for Senior Customs Officers, who mean well, to stamp it out.
The point I wish to make here is that instead of, allegedly, trying to cut a deal on the duty rate for his sister-in-law, the minister of state for finance should be addressing himself to matters such as these, so as to make absolutely sure that the customs department has the wherewithal to catch these revenue thieves. But, of course, one should only lead by example and yours, Laing, is questionable.
Short cuts are not always the best way to go.
It would have been perfectly legal for Laing and Ingraham to have gone to parliament with legislation to have the rate of duty changed on the “MonaVie” fruit drink; however it still would have been nepotism, but at least it would have been legal nepotism. Having said it the way I did, I don’t know now which is worse i.e. nepotism or legal nepotism.
It is always safer, though, to keep your both hands out of the cookie jar. Those are my views.
Forrester J Carroll J.P Freeport,
Grand Bahama 6th. March 2008