STATEMENT BY RT HON. PERRY CHRISTIE MP
LEADER PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL PARTY
GAMBIER HOUSE, LYNDEN PINDLING CENTRE
NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS – March 20th 2011
Response to the Prime Minister’s Rally On Ft. Charlotte 19th March
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hubert Ingraham knows how to spend money, doesn’t he? He must — the Bahamas is facing a record $4 billion in debt, a gigantic bill for our children and grandchildren. And last night in Ft. Charlotte he spent tens of thousands more, hoping a party would distract people from a truly terrible deal, a deal that stinks — and we all know the BTC deal stinks to high heaven.
It stinks because he’s giving away 51% — that is, control — to a foreign company, and not just any foreign company, but Cable & Wireless, with a history of trouble in the Caribbean. From the start, when Bahamians were told they “need not apply”, this process has not been transparent. Ask yourselves why Cable & Wireless has still not been asked to a real business plan? Ask yourselves why this company is being sold for less than its assets are worth — and not just less, but hundreds of millions less? It stinks — it does not pass the smell test.
I had to laugh when the PM spoke about Stephen Rose watching the Nassau rally on television in Acklins Island — the fact is, that is only possible because BTC under my government invested in a fiber optic cable system that links the entire Bahamas.
So you see, the PLP believes in competition, in privatization, in a modern BTC. But not this way.
The FNM likes to talk about Bluewater. But here’s the most important thing about Bluewater — 49%. That’s how much my government was willing to sell — 49%. The BTC deal is for 51%. Just two little percentage points — but they tell you everything you need to know about the difference between our parties and the deals we make. This government is selling a Bahamian asset to non-Bahamians; we would have contracted for foreign expertise in telecommunications but kept majority control of a strategic asset in Bahamian hands.
All the technological advances the FNM is talking about can happen at 49% — selling 51% represents a grand betrayal of our patrimony, of our rights. The FNM says this is the best they can do — well, your best is not good enough — it’s not even close.
As for rates going down…we’ll believe it when we see it. I haven’t heard C & W echo that promise. Maybe rates will go down right before the election…but I don’t see any guarantees about what will happen the day after election day.
Today I’m calling on the FNM members of Parliament — come on, now, show some courage. Do the right thing. You know in your hearts this deal stinks. Your constituents, the people you’re obligated to represent, know it’s a bad deal. Stand up to Hubert….for once, show some courage. I remind you of the lines from a famous song — “How many times must a man turn his head and pretend that he just does not see?”
The people of the Bahamas will be watching this vote carefully…they are going to be looking to see which MP has the guts to do what’s right.
Anyone who watched the Prime Minister last night waited and waited and waited…they heard a lot boasting and talking big but they never heard anything about the desperate economic situation facing many Bahamians, especially those in Grand Bahama. They never heard about no food on the table for many, the power bills so high that many homes have been in darkness for months; the many children taken out of private school and the many more who cannot go to college.
They never heard about crime — all those parents whose children have suffered because this government chose to remove the police from our school campuses.
Today, my heart goes out then to all Bahamians who were hoping the Prime Minister would address the issues. But they heard more of the same: Blame the PLP. Boast about roads, bridges and beaches. But roads, bridges and beaches cannot feed the poor, nor house the homeless, nor can it stop crime, nor turn on the electricity.
The people in Freeport must be flabbergasted today. There was nothing for them. Thousands turned out to our rally on Friday last — the Prime Minister was clearly shaken by what he heard from Grand Bahama. We chose to do that, to go right into his backyard and shake his foundation to the core. Thousands turned out to listen to our message. Among them were civil servants in their scores, openly associating with our party.
As we travel the country, we see a lot of excitement about the new generation of leaders in our party — a new generation, with new energy and new ideas, ready to bring the Bahamas into the 21st century, ready to have a government that believes in what its own citizens can accomplish.
Thank you very much indeed.