From: National Development Party Steering Committee
Re: Statement on Education Guaranteed Loan Program
Date: August 24, 2009
The National Development Party considers the cancellation of the Education Guaranteed Loan Program (EGLP)to be most unfortunate. It is yet another example of the lack of accountability in the management of our nation’s fiscal and legislative affairs and of the failure of our elected leaders to advance the development of our nation. Despite both having control of parliament since the inception of the fund, they have continued to deflect blame for their failure to ensure that the proper regulatory framework was in place to prevent the rampant abuse which has resulted in the fund’s insolvency.
Both the FNM and PLP parliamentarians should have anticipated that there would be those who would apply for EGLP grants, without any intention to pay back the loans. When considering the weaknesses and threats of the fund as structured, wouldn’t it have been prudent to ensure that the entire $100 million would have been earmarked for use at local tertiary institutions, particularly the College of the Bahamas, instead of going to pay for tuition at foreign institutions? This approach would have had a significant impact on COB realizing the goal of attaining university status. How could our parliamentarians not see the merit in investing $100 million in developing new programs in critical areas at COB, and providing free tuition for those who qualified, instead of sending that money abroad to enrich foreign institutions? Instead of protecting the investments of the Bahamian taxpayers, this poorly composed legislative act will likely add at least another $68 million to our already astronomical national debt.
The National Development Party would like to remind the Bahamian people that just a few short months ago, the FNM and the PLP also deflected responsibility for the lax and deficient regulatory framework that allowed Clico (Bahamas) Insurance Ltd. to siphon millions of dollars in insurance premiums out of the country, at the expense of not only their policyholders, but all Bahamian taxpayers, who are now on the hook for a $30 million bond established to guarantee the policies of policyholders left in the lurch. Both cases are egregious examples of Bahamian taxpayers being forced to bailout our lawmakers for their failure to implement proper legislative safeguards.
Had the proper safeguards been in place, Clico would not have been permitted to funnel premiums out of the country to gamble on real estate investments in Florida; and had the proper safeguards been in place, recipients of the EGLP would not have been able to receive taxpayer funds to invest in foreign jurisdictions, when we have a national tertiary institution that we say we want to upgrade to university status. We, the National Development Party, believe that neither the FNM, nor the PLP are serious about developing our nation, because if they were, they would never have passed these pieces of legislation that were fraught with such costly loopholes.