As Bahamians, we are all very aware of our shared reality. The country is virtually on its knees and, as citizens, we are not as well-off as we used to be. But to look on the bright side, we are a thriving parliamentary democracy which enables the real holders of power (the people) to express their wishes at regular intervals – in our case, at least once every five years. For all Bahamians, this is a time of great expectations and for residents of Grand Bahama, specifically; this is a time really to make our wishes felt because our island has borne the brunt of the hardship, particularly in the City of Freeport. So as the country gears up for the 2012 General Election, there is no greater anticipation in the people of Freeport than the expectation that they will make changes in the Government to reverse their social and economic decline.
One of the candidates vying for a seat in the area is Gregory K. Moss, a Lawyer by profession who was born in Nassau and raised in Freeport, having resided in the city for the past 16 years. I had the good fortune of interviewing Mr. Moss recently and share with you, the key points he made with respect to what he thinks is the problem and what his party, the PLP, can do to change the situation, when elected next year in the Marco City constituency.
Mr. Moss confirmed that he is a candidate in the next election and then made clear his enthusiasm for the race that he wants to start his service as a Member of Parliament as soon as possible. He was clear and firm in his belief that the actions of Hubert Ingraham in inflicting so much misery on working and middle class Bahamians strongly suggests that he MUST want to see most Bahamians broke’ and economically disabled. He said that in ‘going door to door’, in his campaign in Marco City he has encountered there many people who identify themselves as FNM’s but who say that although they ‘ have not historically supported the PLP, they CANNOT now support the FNM. Of course to him, this is a both a challenge and an opportunity for the PLP as they have to not only show what the FNM has failed to do, but as they also have to show what they would do differently.
Mr. Moss was also firm in his belief that the idea of a ‘career politician” is a very dangerous one’ since a career is what someone does to provide for himself and his family. In his view, political service should be a calling, not a career, since the objective of political service must be to serve for a purpose, and make a difference in the Bahamas’. He admitted that ‘the country has been ‘floating’ for a very long time but he said that until Grand Bahama gets back on its feet, this trend will continue’. Grand Bahama has the infrastructural framework, the hard-working and talented people but what ‘we need is a visionary approach’ because ‘the course we’re on is unsustainable; people are losing their jobs, homes, cars and other worldly possessions EVERY DAY!’ (His emphasis, not mine). He added that 2015 will be crucial for Grand Bahama because it is in this year that some tax benefits under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement will end, so it gives us approximately 4 years to get our act together in deciding whether it is in our national interest to extend those benefits and, if so, on what terms we will extend them .
Mr. Moss has a clear prescription for the situation and was able to express four clear actions that could and should be taken without delay. Firstly, Grand Bahama is in dire need of an injection of Government resources, for example, ‘encouragement of economic activities by some level of temporary tax relief, if necessary, and we must also consider ‘bringing back the Hotel Corporation’. Secondly, he said that we ‘must start putting money in people’s pocket by way of work’ and one way to do this would be through ‘Bahamian entertainment’, which would ‘put Grand Bahama back on track the way it used to be in the 1970’s’. Mr. Moss was adamant that Marco City has been misrepresented for the past four and a half years. He added the we must find a way ‘to get Grand Bahamians back on track in Grand Bahama by way of JOBS, JOBS and more JOBS!’.
Thirdly, he stated emphatically his belief that ‘the FNM is intentionally competing with Bahamians’ and implied that ‘work permit fees seem to be a source of revenue’, the more work permits this ‘outgoing’ Government can give out, the more money they get in revenues. This seemed to anger Mr. Moss, who said that he is confident that the PLP will form the Government of The Bahamas and he is confident that he will be the next Member of Parliament (MP) for the Marco City constituency. He believes that putting Bahamians first is very important and despite the appeal of extra revenues, we need to refrain from giving out work permits freely. Fourthly, Mr. Moss was of the firm view that both Immigration and Education are creating very difficult problems for the country that the current Government has been powerless to solve. In his view, ‘we need to do an ‘about face’ when it comes to both Immigration and Education’, meaning that we need to head in a totally new direction by creating a linkage between Immigration and Education so that we can ensure that Bahamians are being educated and trained to fill jobs that we presently find ourselves giving out work permits for. Finally, as if in expectation that he will be the winner come 2012, Mr. Moss has already started work in Marco City i.e. advocating for the clean-up and regeneration of roads and local parks.
Mr. Moss is an Attorney-at- Law with Moss & Associates, and an Investor in several local businesses in Grand Bahama. He has served as President of the Chamber of Commerce and President of Grand Bahama Council of the PLP(2001-2004) . He feels strongly that his legal and business exposure have given him ‘real world’ experience of how to solve the issues we currently face.
I close with an excerpt from Mr. Moss’ Facebook page’ that illustrates the depth of understanding that he possesses of the issues we face:
“Moody has downgraded the Bahamas from a being a stable economy to being a negative one. Notwithstanding that, the FNM’s response is to congratulate itself on having maintained it A3 bond designation. The problem is that the FNM government is being deceptive in failing to tell everyone what those two labels mean. The truth is troubling. The downgrading of the economy from stable to negative means exactly what it sounds like – that under the FNM government’s management of the economy The Bahamas has moved from being viewed as a stable economy to now being viewed as a negative (or risky) economy”.