MEDIA MUST ALWAYS SERVE PUBLIC INTEREST

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Dear Editor,

Clearly reports of Dame Marguerite’s residence being in arrears in Real Property Tax payments published in both newspapers are clear cases of selective persecution. For sure the support base of the PLP are grass roots Bahamians whose homes would be real property tax exempt in many instances, but curiously, the names of the people splattered across the front pages of the Guardian and Tribune and characterized as tax cheats are personalities connected to or associated with the PLP.

Another observation is simply this: Of the $500 million owed to the government in real property taxes over the last 30 years, 56% or just over $300 million are commercial properties. Now we all know that the business class supports the FNM disproportionately and represents their base of financial support so diabolical practice by the media begs at least three questions:

Firstly, why and how is it that only people connected to the PLP keep showing up on the front pages of the news papers being characterized as tax cheats. Secondly, many of the people associated with the Coalition for Responsible Taxation are members of the BCCEC, therefore the vast majority of them are supporters of the FNM, but none of the newspapers have seen fit to expose any of them, as vocal as they are in the media opposing the government on VAT, public expenses and the need for the government to collect ALL of its taxes. I thought a part of the democratic process was exposing and purging society of duplicity and hypocrisy? And thirdly, what is the role of the media in all this? The fourth Estate should ALWAYS be and seen and seem to be about serving the public’s best interest. Members of that institution should NEVER be seen or seem to be involved in selective persecution based of political alignment as this will severely compromise the credibility and integrity of the media and the public trust in their motivation.

How is the public’s interest served by revealing the tax information of Dame Marguerite and not all other Deputies to the Governor General or Governors General? What is the declared interest of the media in singling out Dame Marguerite? Or Ishmael Lightbourne? The Coalition has been on a very public crusade and campaign against VAT, less government spending and for what they call responsible taxation, but the media has not seen fit to publish any of their confidential tax information. You mean of the $500 million owed to the government, nobody connected to the Coalition is in arrears? Does the media care if any of them is? Have they checked to verify? What would be the media’s interest in not publishing their tax information if the public’s interest is served in doing so because after all, it’s not personal or political, “it’s about the rule of law” as the Nassau Guardian’s editorial asserts. Why not just investigate everybody and demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt the Fourth Estate is no respect of persons and “bows to the dogma of no master.”

It might very well be that the media have conducted its due diligence and research and discovered that every public figure connected with the FNM is current with all of the financial and tax obligations to the state, be it utilities and Real Property Taxes. It’s these unethical and corrupt PLP’s who refuse to pay their bills because they feel a sense of entitlement. You think that’s the case? Because that is precisely the message the media is seeking to package and market to the public about the PLP.

Until and unless the media can demonstrate its editorial independence and freedom, they will continue to appear to be the lapdog of the FNM, content to hide information that in their opinion would prove injurious to the political fortunes of the FNM as they (apparently) assume the de facto role of political opposition as they seek to destroy the PLP and remove it from office.

But what if the media actually does its job and serve the public interest by putting all the incriminating facts on the table – FNM, PLP, DNA – everybody? What a silly and counter-productive idea as those inconvenient facts would only get in the way of a good story….can’t have that. What? The PLP is the party of the elites and are letting all of their elite friends get away with not paying taxes? Is that the message? But I thought the grass roots represented the support base of the PLP? Oh right, I forgot….don’t confuse me with the facts and never let the facts get in the way of a good ole slimy story. Comprendo!….Got it!

Regards,

Alexander Laroda