Christie’s Disjointed Behaviour Alarming

Monday 20th, January 2014 / 08:46 Published by

The Prime Minister arrived, late as usual, to deliver his annual address to The Bahamas Business Outlook Conference without a prepared text. He explained that he had spent seven hours rearranging his remarks the day before and that the finished text was still not ready.

He then began to speak to the assembled business persons without prepared remarks. That was unfortunate. The Prime Minister considers himself to be a great orator. He is not. His unscripted words revealed disjointed sentences that pulled away all disguises of his growing intolerance for any and all who oppose him. So much for consultative government!

Newspaper reports have brought the PM’s unguarded remarks to the public’s attention. Many are now alarmed.

The Prime Minister attacked citizens who dare to oppose the Government’s plans to introduce VAT this summer. Recalling his success at raising money to fight an election, he seemed to caution the private sector not to fight the government on tax reform matters because, in his own words, “There is no limit to any campaign I would go into” – are we now to presume even to using the resources of the Public Treasury to win the tax fight?

Using public money to fight his political agenda is nothing new for the prime minister. In just over 18 months, he created two expensive but unnecessary Ministries with portfolio that overlap and conflict with the responsibilities of other Ministries (Grand Bahama and Financial Services); spent over a million dollars on a useless Numbers Referendum supposedly to protect his effort to deliver on his pre-election promises to the Numbers Men; expended another million dollars plus on a public witch hunt at NIB to remove a public official who refused to approve unlawful use of NIB funds; wasted additional millions of dollars on unnecessarily large official delegations travelling internationally during difficult economic times; and committed countless millions of public money to fund politically motivated contracts and consultancies for political friends and supporters and for foreign consultants on all manner of subjects: gaming, cell stem, VAT – you name it.

Indeed, a minimum of two foreign consultancies seem to be necessary on all of these matters: British and then South African consultants on gaming; Washington-based and then Florida-based consultancies on stem cell therapy – to bolster advice from a Canadian interested party; IMF, the IDB, then New Zealand and now US based consultancies on VAT! And all this from a man who claims to “Believe in Bahamians”!

The PM went on to tell his audience how many violent criminals had been released on bail. He chided the judiciary for granting them bail and accused the church of not “talking to” such individuals charged before the courts. And he claimed that The Bahamas has “no system” to provide counselling to its at risk population. Social workers and counsellors assigned to the school, community and prison systems will be surprised to learn that the prime minister does not recognise their work. Many would have been hoping that he would have highlighted the urgent need to increase both their numbers and the resources available to them to improve the tough work that they do.

The Prime Minister renewed a recent promise to make the terms for bail more difficult in contradiction to PLP election campaign promises to soften the tough anti-crime laws enacted by the FNM. And, he attempted to usurp the authority of the Judiciary by renewing another new PLP anti-crime promise of having ten supreme courts all to become operational in the near future.

The PM used his Business Outlook talk to justify another of his signature programmes. He claimed that household surveys, to be undertaken using funds he proposes to reallocate to the Urban Renewal 2.0, would identify, “who is deaf, dumb, not working, and who’s the smartest resident” in every household in the country beginning with his own. This it seems is central to the PM’s anti-crime fight. Why the health or employment status of individuals in his own household would impact the Government’s anti-crime programme is not self-evident. Perhaps the prime minister will further enlighten us at his next unscripted public talk.

Bahamians are right to become concerned with the increasingly intolerant public statements by the prime minister. In recent weeks alone, he has publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the commissioner of police; questioned the ability of the Royal Bahamas Police Force to meet its anti-crime mandate; dismissed the concerns of the chief justice over incursions by the political directorate into the constitutional preserve of the independence of the Judiciary and chided the President of the Christian Council to whom he claims he wants to deliver a message on what the church ought to be doing in the crime fight.

The Prime Minister’s assertion that the Chief Justice knows that “he is a democrat” rings more hollow with his every outburst against those who do not support his every view or programme. This is especially so when one considers that earlier, the Prime Minister had declared the Leader of the Opposition to be unfit to become prime minister – as if he is qualified to determine who is qualified to hold that office!

Bahamians cannot take any great comfort from the prime minister’s advice on the economic front either. Having the benefit of receiving his prepared remarks, the prime minister told assembled persons that the economic outlook for The Bahamas was good. Days before, the Chairman of his Party, Bradley Roberts issued a statement making the same claim – as if to set the path.

The PM’s optimism is based on two points:

Firstly, that the government will reform the tax system enabling it to reduce government spending even while maintaining all essential health, education, social welfare and national security services;

Secondly, the projected success of a litany of foreign investment tourism projects meant to create menial jobs for Bahamians extending from Grand Bahama in the north to Exuma in the south.

Several of these projects will intrude on highly sensitive environmental regions in Bimini and the Berries but this is clearly not a concern for the prime minister. His economic agenda does not stop for the Bahamian environment.

So much for believing in Bahamians!

Geoffrey Cooper
Nassau, Bahamas

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