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 Bahamas Commentary

2005-08-25 15:35:30

Government Over-Extended?

If the current administration has over-extended itself, the public will pay for it one way or the other.

The Nassau International Airport is in a mess. And so are other airports elsewhere in The Bahamas. The current administration is up to its eyeballs in debt and problems as it tries to cope with this dilemma.

While the tourism plant continues to expand, those who are investing in that expansion know that our airports are grossly inadequate and ineffecient. These airports are below the normal expectations of our tourism clientele.

Now the Christie administration is caught in the coils of a major security dilemma. If it wants to pursue an anchor project for each island strategy of extensive growth and development throughout The Bahamas, it must prepare itself to bear the costs associated with such expansion.

To date, there is little evidence to suggest that the Government has taken time enough to absorb some of the more far-reaching fiscal, social, cultural and demographic implications and ramifications of such a strategy.

We are quite convinced that the bite is now being seen and felt in the area of security for this nation's seaports and airports. The bottom line is that the Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is obliged to put in place infrastructure sufficient for a large rich country.

The fact of the matter is that The Bahamas is a very peculiar country, boasting many islands-but having a miniscule population base.

With a head count of probably no more than one hundred and seventy five thousand able-bodied men and women, and with a similar number of dependents, The Bahamas just does not have the tax-base to support some of the more grandiose dreams of some of its leaders.

Today there is every indication that the Government of The Bahamas is being obliged to come to terms with any number of waking realities, such as those which relate plan to capacity; and depth of purse to scope of dream.

If this does in fact turn out to be so, all Bahamians would need to know and believe that they would eventually be called upon to 'carry the bag' so to speak.

Reality is now kicking in.

As we have previously noted, today's economic, social and political realities are a far cry from the promises made in those heady days now past when the leader of the Progressive Liberal Party dared compare his mission with that of the Father of the Nation, the late and Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden O. Pindling.

As today's leader of The P.L.P. boasted: "In the same way that 'Pindling in 1967 had to exhort Bahamians to strive for excellence and to lift themselves up, the new PLP Government of Perry Christie in 2002 must now inspire Bahamians to transform themselves to meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities that lie before them".

As he spoke, he would have had his audience believe that while Pindling promised and delivered an age of upliftment for the Bahamian people, he {the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie} was promising an age of transformation a transformation in the way we govern; a transformation in the institutional framework of governance; a transformation in values and attitudes; and a transformation in the way we relate to each other as members of our society.

Put more bluntly, if the current administration has over-extended itself, the public will pay for it one way or the other. If the Government borrows the money, the people will have to pay it back. And if the government is obliged to cut back in other areas, that same public will still have to make the sacrifices.

As in everything in life, there are costs to be paid when mistakes are made.

Its good intentions about transformation do not matter.

We are quite convinced that The Bahamas does not have the manpower base to meet the demands now being made on the economy; we do not believe that the country has the wherewithal to meet the myriad of security demands that such expansion warrants.

There is now evidence galore to suggest that the current administration has bitten off more than it can chew as far as its much touted anchor projects for each island in The Bahamas is concerned.

When reference is made about the supposed benefits of one venture or the other, few officials have taken the time to note that these come freighted with commensurate costs to the Government itself as far as public services and security are concerned.

The bottom line in the real world is that everything comes with a price tag attached. As the old saying goes, "you get nothing for nothing; and very little for your penny".

Any and all who would wish to 'transform' The Bahamas should posthaste take this wisdom to heart.

Editor, The Bahama Journal
August 24, 2005

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