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 Bahamas Commentary

2003-06-18 20:26:49

Bahamas Gives $500,000 In Assistance To Haiti

Fred Mitchell believes that our $500,000 will help a country of over seven million people with the kind of leaders they have? I am not a rocket scientist, but neither am I a fool.

Oh please! Oh please, Hon. Fred Mitchell! Are my eyes and ears deceiving me? You are saying that somebody has to help Haiti, and it might as well be us. Well blow me down! You expect us to succeed where the United States with unlimited financial resources at its command has repeatedly failed? So too has the Organisation of American States!

Those of us who read will know that millions of dollars have already gone down into this bottomless pit. Millions more that have already been pledged by the aforementioned donors have for years been gathering dust in bank vaults while the Aristide government refuse to re-do some senatorial elections that were internationally certified to be fraudulent. In short, after all that that country has been through, the current leaders care more about their personal and partisan interests than about the people and the country at large. The same has been said about the previous leaders of Haiti. When President Aristide came to power, the Haitian people greeted him almost as a Messiah. Sadly, he has proven to be just a little better than his predecessors. Years have come and gone, Prime Ministers and Presidents have served, been deposed or resigned, but nothing has changed. I am very sympathetic about the plight of Haiti and the Haitian people, but there must be some God-given reason why this country simply cannot get its act together despite many, many opportunities to do so.

And Fred Mitchell believes that our $500,000 will help a country of over seven million people with the kind of leaders they have? I am not a rocket scientist, but neither am I a fool.

And I hear the constant refrain that the treasury is broke. We constantly have to examine the actions of the people who are running this country. In the process, we will see some absolutely amazing things. Which brings me to my next item.

ATTORNEYS ARE WONDERFUL AT LAW; NOT GOOD AT BUSINESS

Whoever doubts this need only look at the national debt and consider who have been leading this country for most or all of our lifetime. Attorneys, and lawyers. Pindling then Ingraham now Christie, are all lawyers. I am told that prior to Pindling assuming leadership, there was no national debt because a businessman was premier. Now the national debt exceeds $2,100,000,000. That is more than two thousand million dollars! That represents more than $6,770 for every man, woman, child and baby in this country. And I see the government carrying on with business as usual with the debt increasing more and more almost every single year. In fact, I see worse than that. Consecutive ministers of finance have boasted that this is not a problem because the country still has sufficient good standing with its bankers that it can borrow its way out of any perceived difficulties. But the more borrowing we do the worse this problem gets!

So there you have it. The national government has been constantly spending more than its income and borrowing the difference simply because it has the capacity to borrow and pay the interest on the ever increasing debt. The policy it seems, has been to borrow and spend, borrow and spend. I understand that interest on the national debt now exceeds the annual allocation for some major government departments if not ministries. I hope that this is not true. The long and short of it is if the persons who run this country were to constantly spend more than their earnings and borrow the difference, they would eventually end up in serious financial trouble. They know this very well with respect to themselves and their households, and I do not think that they engage in this practice on the personal level. Yet they have no difficulty practicing it on the nation. But they are attorneys, not businessmen. And running a country is much like running a huge business operation. This is why I said in an earlier writing that we must get all of those lawyers out of parliament. I have nothing personal against attorneys. They are wonderful people and they are wonderful at law. They're just not good at business, and they should not be, because their training is in a totally different field. I will never forget that when the late Sir Lynden Pindling appointed himself Minister of Finance, the national budgetary deficits at that time were among the biggest if not the biggest on record to that point in our history as a nation. And this is also why I have absolutely no difficulty in supporting Brent Symonette as leader of the Free National Movement, and indeed prime minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Here is a very successful businessman who knows the importance of matching income to expenditure. Here is someone who knows the importance of a positive cash flow and what a sensible profit/loss statement and balance sheet is supposed to look like. He knows that it is foolhardy to promise the people that which the country cannot afford, because it will only inevitably result in more hardship for the same people. This happens when the currency is devalued, and when we do not have sufficient U.S. dollars to import enough food to feed ourselves, and when the International Monetary Fund has to intervene. And believe you me, the folks at the IMF do not think like Bahamian politicians or politicians period. They operate more like a bull in a china shop. They simply look at the economic picture and dictate what the government has to do in order to make it better. If for example that means dropping half of the Defence Force officers from the government payroll, or getting rid of Bahamasair in a fire sale, then so be it. I pray that Mr. Symonette re-think his current position on vying for the leadership of the FNM at some point before the next general elections. And I pray that he becomes leader of the FNM, and the nation.

By Welly Forbes
Letter To The Editor, The Nassau Guardian  

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