COMMENTARY BY BRADLEY B. ROBERTS
FORMER CABINET MINISTER AND MP
29 APRIL 2018
As the first anniversary of the FNM government approaches it is customary to rate the government’s performance and assess the country’s policy direction. To date, a clearly defined vision for The Bahamas eludes this government as uncertainty, scandal, hypocrisy and one untruth after the other continue to dog and define the Minnis administration. Much of the public goodwill, political capital and currency given to the Minnis government were foolishly squandered in less than one year through mixed priorities.
Dr. Minnis promised change; prosperity; to clean up corruption; and he promised honesty, openness, transparency and accountability in government but has failed to deliver on any of those promises. He did spend literally millions of dollars on audits that failed to confirm his election campaign rhetoric about PLP corruption. His prosecution of former PLP parliamentarians was fascism at work as the drivers of the prosecutions were not audit findings or official complaints to the police, but FNM politicians. It was essentially victor’s justice and a series of political witch hunts. Criminal matters are for the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General who are constitutionally empowered to act outside of the Cabinet.
Bahamians are well aware of the corrupt Oban deal where convicted felon Peter Kreiger signed for Satpal Dhunna on 19th February. The Prime Minister later said the REAL heads of agreement was actually signed by Dhunna on 10th February – only problem is, Dr. Minnis could never produce this “real” agreement. He later unceremoniously fired AMMC Chair Reece Chipman for “violating government policy” – only problem is the Prime Minister refused to reveal what government policy was violated and why Chipman was not prosecuted for its behavior. His Press Secretary, Anthony Newbold, told the press recently that “transparency” does not mean “disclosure.” Ah well, we now get it. So much for cleaning up corruption and being transparent, open and honest in government.
YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY ZERO CREDIBILITY ON THESE PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNANCE MR. PRIME MINISTER. YOU ARE SEEN AS A DISHONEST BUFFOON.
You doubled down on your earlier $200 million corruption claim and without a sliver of evidence, boldly claimed that losses due to corruption in our country totals 500 million dollars. This is equivalent to 25% of our national budget and 5% of the country’s economy. You have nothing to back it up and Transparency International said your claims are without empirical evidential backing. You must therefore apologize to the Bahamian people and withdraw that ridiculous statement forthwith.
After railing against ministerial travel and solemn a pledge to curtail the same, the Prime Minister must explain his gussimae delegation to Peru and London and the cost, plain and simple.
On the issue of transparency and accountability, will the government reveal the findings of the investigations into multiple marine accidents involving the HMBS Rolly Gray and HMBS Arthur D. Hanna? What are the costs to the taxpayers? Will the government also explain this new policy of delisting in serious criminal matters including armed robberies and homicides? There is no transparency Mr. Prime Minister – only secrecy.
The FNM now supports the Interception of Communications Bill. Minister Johnson and Senator Henfield openly and vociferously campaigned against it, calling it an attack on civil liberties and a violation of privacy. We must also know why politicians decide on the interception rather than the independent courts. This is dishonesty and hypocrisy of the worst kind.
The white paper on saving over-the-hill is the FNM government’s plans to gentrify Over-The-Hill and have the public pay for it. I issued a statement on this when Dr. Duane Sands mentioned this plan years ago. I called it G-E-N-T-R-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N!!
It’s a scheme for FNM cronies and some others to snatch up valuable inner-city land for pennies and rebuild new communities that their group will own and control with rents. The poor will be summarily displaced wholesale.
Has the government expressed how they will deal with the renting poor who will have to move out of these renewed areas? Where will they go? How will they afford housing?
Who will pay for them? So much like the now defunct OBAN Oil deal, it’s an insidious and pernicious land grab by rich FNM donors and cronies under the guise of helping the poor. Very insidious! Very pernicious! There are many questions to be answered on this policy.
I concur with the Opposition Leader that one year later, “the firings continue unabated; unemployment has increased; there is no relief for the poor; there is no plan for Grand Bahama and the Family Islands; no action in the inner cities as promised and no free university education as promised. Sadly, millions are being spent with private auditing firms to conduct what are essentially political witch hunts but to date, none of these audits have discovered, uncovered or confirmed the lies of corruption and malfeasance told by the FNM on the campaign trail.”
One year later, hypocrisy, double speak, secrecy and one untruth after the other continue to dog and define this Minnis administration.