Bradley B Roberts- National Chairman
Progressive Liberal Party
PLP’s 60th Anniversary Luncheon
Sheraton Cable Beach Resort
24th November 2013
Protocol having been established, it is certainly a pleasure to be here this afternoon to give thanks and to attest to the greatness and mercies of Almighty God who has brought this organization a mighty long way, through many trials and tribulations and yes many glorious victories – seven non-consecutive electoral victories to be exact.
As we celebrate sixty continuous and glorious years of service, we are thankful to God for this milestone because of its special significance: Firstly, we are the governing party as the country celebrates forty years of nationhood and secondly, it was your Progressive Liberal Party that led The Bahamas to independence.
Fellow PLP’s, I offer this unapologetic proposition to you in the year of our diamond jubilee: The PLP has always stood in the vanguard of change and for social justice, economic justice, equality, Bahamianization and a level playing field – a collective message that is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.
Landmark and historic events such as the universal suffrage movement, the general strike of 1958, women’s right to vote in 1962 and Majority Rule in 1967 were the embodiment of the spirit, tenet, ethos and philosophy of the PLP and this organization will forever be identified with the struggle for equality.
Independence in 1973 was about defining who we were as a people and believing in the ability of Bahamians to shape our destiny and make our mark in the world.
It should not surprise anybody that fifty-nine years after its birth, the PLP ran on a platform of Believing in The Bahamas. This message that Bahamians were not being treated equally or fairly resonated nationally with Bahamians of all socio-economic backgrounds. So the fundamental tenet and message of the PLP has been tried and tested by time and is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.
God has used the Progressive Liberal Party as an instrument to uplift a downtrodden people to nationhood and an important player on the world stage. Also, God used this organization to provide the legal foundation on which our laws stand to empower our people and to eradicate centuries of institutional injustices. For these great blessings, opportunities and awesome responsibilities we simply say “to God be the glory, great things He hath done.”
The policies of the PLP government created the modern Bahamas beginning with Majority Rule, Independence, Bahamianization policy, Central Bank, College of The Bahamas, Industrial Training Center (now BTVI), BAIC, BMC, Bahamasair, RBDF, Bank of The Bahamas, Bahamas Development Bank, NIB and the list goes on and on.
Recently Urban Renewal 2.0 and the National Training Agency were created to meet the growing social, training and educational needs of our people in a dynamic and increasingly competitive workplace.
The groundbreaking of the Bahamas Agriculture, Marine and Science Research Institute (BAMSRI) is yet another commitment of the PLP to putting Bahamians first in diversifying the economy, expanding job and entrepreneurial opportunities for our people and aggressively address the issue of food security. National Health Insurance for all Bahamians will be delivered.
In our seventh non-consecutive term in office, the Bahamian people in their wisdom chose the PLP to lead this country out of one of its deepest recessions and to govern during a time of mass social dislocation, a high rate of crime and the fear of crime. We thank them for their confidence and continued support.
The fiscal crisis inherited by the PLP in 2012 was not of its own making but they were hired by the Bahamian people to clean up this fiscal mess. The PLP government continues to strike a delicate balance between honouring existing capital commitments and the execution of its own capital works program under very difficult fiscal circumstances. This is what reasonable governments do.
The government’s fiscal consolidation plan has received the endorsements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Credit Ratings Agency, Standard and Poors (S&P) – reputed international organizations with no political axe to grind. I publicly thank the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and his State Minister for making the tough, unpopular, but necessary decisions of behalf of the Bahamian people.
On the issue of the recession, one cannot honestly cite the global recession as the reason for the dismal economic and fiscal performance of the country under the stewardship of the FNM without citing the recession for the current fiscal crisis and protracted economic recovery of The Bahamas under the stewardship of the PLP. On May 7th, 2012, the FNM went away, not the recession – the deleterious effects of the global recession on the Bahamian economy and its slow protracted recovery are with us today. To suggest otherwise is abject dishonesty.
This current national state of affairs is not new or unchartered waters for us. I remind Bahamians that the PLP governed this country with prudence during the gasoline crisis of the 1970’s, the Iraq war of the 1980’s and after 911 in 2002. The record is there for all to see that in each instance, The Bahamas emerged stronger after each test and boast of having one of the strongest economies and successful democracies in the region. Some of our Caribbean neighbours were not so lucky.
I make these points to raise the broader question of the motivation behind the doom and gloom, gainsaying, naysaying, nitpicking and second guessing of the policies of this government, especially from talk radio and social media. Everybody has an opinion on our current fiscal crisis. There is no nexus between the manufactured hysteria in the public domain, the PLP’s body of work during some thirty years of governance and its handling of the current fiscal challenges.
It is disgraceful that some see fit to denounce a policy or proposed bill as a failure before it is drafted, let alone implemented. There are some who appear to be actively campaigning for the failure of our country; this is unpatriotic and unforgivable.
I call for balance, intellectual honesty and constructive engagement on national issues as this is the only productive way forward. Please be reminded that we are all stakeholders with vested interests in the success of this country.
As I close, I make an appeal to all citizens of goodwill to strengthen your resolve in your intolerance of the unacceptably high level of crime in this country. I applaud the yeoman’s effort of the police and the policy leadership of the Ministers of National Security and Legal Affairs in the administration of justice. Dr. Nottage and Senator Maynard-Gibson are two tough, no-nonsense and highly competent leaders who will get the job done on our people’s behalf.
At the community level, we must offer the police every assistance and cooperation to beat back the tide of criminality that threatens our way of life. This is war we can and win.
All indicators point to positive turn around in the Bahamian economy in 2014 which will result in the creation of thousands on badly needed jobs for Bahamians.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I take great personal delight in extending a very warm PLP welcome to all this afternoon as we celebrate yet another significant milestone in the life of our great Party.
On behalf of the Office of National Chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party, I salute the officers, members and supporters of this august body on its 60th birthday for without God as our guide and all hands on deck, we would not have made it this far.
May Almighty God continue to guide the deliberations of this party for and on behalf of the Bahamian people and bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.