Ingraham’s mid-year Budget presentation was more akin to the midnight cry (warning) of the grim reaper’s arrival to claim all first born victims of those who did not heed the advance warnings given that, unless the blood was smeared on their door posts, the death angel would pass at midnight and execute judgment on all those guilty households.
Some of us (I am acutely aware) are tired of hearing it said-but it must be said, nonetheless, for as long as it takes for us to get it through our thick skulls-that Ingraham’s “stop; review and cancel” policy, has reaped us this abundant harvest of misery, pain and woe. Do we get it; I ask you, when the Central Bank reports that one out of every six loans, made by financial Institutions in the country, are in default? Do we get it, I ask, when the Central Bank reports that one of every ten of those loans have been placed in the “non-performing” category? In other words what the Central Bank is telling us is that, of every six loans approved by banks and credit unions and other lending institutions in the Bahamas, one or 17% is presently, two or three months behind in their payments and struggling to keep from being re-possessed, while one or 10% of the total portfolio, is not performing at all (no payments are being made) and has already or is in the final stages of re-possession.
In his Budget Communication two weeks ago, the country’s Bulldog finance minister tried his very best to put a positive spin on the Bahamas’ continuing precarious position but, “no can do.” The national debt nearing $4 billion; stagnant and or declining growth in the country’s economy; Debt to GDP ratios at 50%(the danger zone being anything over 40%); tourism likely to be constrained for the foreseeable future; customs revenue collections for fiscal period(2009-2010)off by about 6%; government expenditure up by about 50%; national unemployment figures hovering around 20%; thousands of Bahamians experiencing lost assets in the hundreds of millions of dollars; crime statistics off the scale; thousands of households existing without basic utilities; infrastructure throughout the country fast deteriorating; illegal migrants invading our territory, at will, while defense force craft sit idle at the docks for lack of fuel; customs and immigration officers not been paid overtime and other retirement benefits due them; temporary workers participating in the six-months job program, not paid a dime in their first six weeks on the jobs; police reservists not paid for December 2009 through March 2010; public schools have become literal war zones; 17 murders and two or three suicides already, recorded, for the first two months of 2010 and the list goes on; there are simply no positives to spin, Mr. Big Stuff. I note here, as a reminder to the government, that in four (4) short months, another 5000 high school graduates will be let go from dozens of high schools in the country; what is there for them to do Mr. Bulldog? What is your government’s plan for them, Hubert Ingraham? A three-month temporary job, maybe? What exactly are your plans for the futures of these young graduates?
“The domestic economic environment is projected to remain challenging in 2010,” reported the central bank in its most recent review. This is only their way of saying (nicely as possible) that things are going to continue to be damn tough in 2010. The FNM is just simply notorious at wrecking economies and wrecking budgets; no question about that. Between 1992 and 2002, they ran up the country’s national debt from $0.970 billion to $2.225 billion, to the time they were kicked out of office. Hubert Ingraham just simply borrowed and spent money, like it was going out of style, and he is now, again, at his old tricks. The FNM would have been in office three (3) years, come May 2nd this year (2010), and they have already borrowed and foolishly spent $1 billion. They are projecting further borrowings (if a lender can be found to take a chance on the Bahamas, given the recent downgrade by S & P and the mess Ingraham has gotten us into) before the end of the year, they say, to meet some of their everyday financial obligations. What did they do with a billion dollars borrowed, thus far? How did they spend a billion dollars and what did we tax payers get for all that money, which our grand children will have responsibility for paying back? Do you know? I certainly don’t. We are up to our necks in a serious pile of “doo-doo,” and Ingraham, Laing and the FNM government are helpless in finding the formula for getting us out of this, self inflicted, dilemma.
Christie and the PLP came to office in 2002 and literally rescued the nation from the brink of economic disaster. The FNM government began their two consecutive terms in office in 1992 with borrowing, and they ended their ten years, in 2002, with more borrowing. A few weeks before being turned away at the polls, in 2002, they started the parliamentary processes for borrowing $125 million for the sole purpose of paying local Bahamian vendors’ bills. The bills were incurred over a period of six months prior, and vendors were demanding payment and threatening to terminate government’s credit arrangements if immediate payments were not made to them. Can you imagine owing shopkeepers and service providers for six months without paying them? What would it tell you, about the way I manage my household affairs if, after every six months I find myself in the precarious financial position of having to borrow money to pay my normal household bills? You would deem me a damn fool; which was exactly my opinion of the FNM government back then in 2002 and it remains my opinion of them, to this day. Well that was the horrific situation, Ingraham and the FNM government got us into, just before being voted out of office in 2002; Mr. Christie and the PLP came to office, thank God, and rescued us. Yes Sir, I am referring to that same Perry Gladstone Christie and the PLP whom they have shown little or no respect for and for whom they have nothing good say.
Remember the hell Christie got put on him from Hubert Ingraham, every time the PLP signed another billion-dollar heads of Agreement? With the I-Group’s $1.2 billion Mayaguana project, it was too much land to commit; with the $900 million project on Rum Cay, it was not sustainable; the $2.6 billion Cable Beach project was too much of a land give away; West Grand Bahama was too vulnerable a low lying area to sustain Ginn sur mer’s $4.9 billion project; Tiger Woods’, $1.5 billion Albany project, in Nassau, was a problem for them; they (FNM) had problems with the billion-dollar projects on Rose and Royal Islands; Nassau’s, “Sir Lynden Pindling International Airport-Canadian Group-take over and re-development deal,” was an unforgivable give away; National Health Insurance legislation, which would give all Bahamians, whether they are able to pay the small premiums or not, full medical health Insurance coverage; the FNM wanted nothing to do with the plan. Since coming back to office, three years ago, what has the FNM government achieved? Anything at all? Can they point to just one project-one meaningful, sustainable project; social or otherwise-that they themselves initiated, that could benefit Bahamians in a sustainable, meaningful way? Can they? Not one that I am aware of. Borrow and spend money, that’s all they know to do.
According to a Nassau Guardian front page report, on Friday 26th February; headlined “By-Election costs taxpayers $200k,” it alluded to the cost being $200,000.00 to conduct the election in Elizabeth. Anyone believing that nonsense that the by-election cost the taxpayers only $200,000.00 would be naive enough to believe that Hubert Ingraham believes in an Almighty God. The story also alluded to the impending cost of $50,000.00 to facilitate Ingraham in the game he wants to play with parliament’s existing agenda, when he plans to prorogue the House and get rid of its current agenda, for what I suspect to be very sinister political reasons. Both these events (the by-election and the proroguing of the House of Assembly) were/are unnecessary and, I submit, were both orchestrated by Ingraham to focus the Bahamian people’s attention away from the real problems confronting this country. He (Ingraham) arranged these events deliberately (to happen) for FNM political reasons, but what he planned will not succeed. I wish to assure the Dictator, however, that a fresh new agenda, in the parliament, will not help his government out of this royal mess we are in, only his and his FNM government’s departure would achieve that objective.
Thank you kindly.
Forrester J Carroll J.P
Freeport, Grand Bahama
6th March 2010.