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2005-11-30 12:58:00

Ingraham Makes PM Eat His Words

Mr Christie has no cause for complaint. He is now only reaping the mischief that his own party - of which he was a prominent member - has sown.

We agree with Prime Minister Perry Christie that politicians should not involve investors in the "day-to-day politics of the country."

Mr Christie on his return on Monday from a CHOGM meeting in Malta, held a brief press conference at the airport. The object of the meeting with the press was to chastise former prime minister Hubert Ingraham for claims he had made during Mr Christie's absence about which government - his or Mr Ingraham's - should take credit for certain investments in the country - both those that succeeded and those that failed.

Mr Christie's message to Mr Ingraham was that the latter was putting "investors in a very difficult position."

It is true that investors have no interest, nor should they have any interest, in our political affairs. Their only concern is that there should be a stable government for the security of their investment.

Investors should not be embarrassed into taking political sides, nor should they be made believe that it is only by retaining certain law firms that they will get approval for their investment, and subsequently the various licences needed to do business in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, this is what is happening - and has happened - for many years in this little town.

However, Mr Ingraham had a legitimate answer for Mr Christie. Mr Christie might not approve of the investor being intimidated or compromised, but he has a conveniently forgotten that it was that very investor who was used as the bogey-man by Mr. Christie's party - against the Ingraham party when it was in government. It was the PLP in opposition that frightened the Bahamian people into believing that the Ingraham government, if not removed, would give this country away to foreigners.

This was not true, of course.  Mr Ingraham was only - as Mr Christie is now doing - trying to attract investment to create jobs for unemployed Bahamians and get the country back on an economic balance, free of narcodollars.

In his reply, Mr Ingraham reminded Mr Christie that his own colleagues lambasted investors during the entire two terms of the FNM administration.

Mr Ingraham wanted to know where Mr Christie was "when a former senior minister in the PLP government and now deputy to the Governor wrote threatening letters to Mr Sol Kerzner advising him what the PLP would do with his development and with concessions granted it, should the PLP government be elected the next government.

"If he (Mr Christie) opposed such threats no one heard his voice. It kept silent or very low then," Mr Ingraham reminded him.

To retain confidence in a country's government - no matter which party is in power - it is accepted that a new government usually honours all treaties or agreements entered into by a previous government.

And so it came as a shock when former attorney general Paul Adderley wrote an insulting, and threatening letter to Sol Kerzner of Kerzner International accusing him of hoodwinking an innocent FNM government into giving him generous concessions in return for Mr Kerzner creating a $300 million resort on Paradise Island.

To this day we can't understand a man in Mr Adderley's position writing such a scandalous letter.

Mr Adderley threatened Mr Kerzner that if he held then Prime Minister Ingraham to this agreement, "you stand to risk having to renegotiate it in 1997, one year before it comes into effect and after you will have spent or committed most of your company's $300 million; or your very best bet would be that you would have to renegotiate after the elections in 2002 when your agreement would be four years old with 16 years to run."

Mr Adderley said that no government likes to renegotiate its predecessors' agreements, but the Atlantis agreement "is so bad, so exploitive - that every Bahamian, including those who still support the Prime Minister, together with the international finance community, would applaud a renegotiation."

According to Mr Adderley his letter was approved by "all the leadership" of the PLP. But what he didn't count on was how much it shocked the community, especially international financiers. However, it did not deter investment, especially when it was realised that Mr Adderley was impotent to carry out his threats.

This is the same man with whom Mr Christie served in the Pindling Cabinet for many years, and who today has been appointed by Mr Christie as deputy to the Governor-General.

No wonder Mr Ingraham can treat Mr Christie's advice with contempt.

One day politicians will learn something that the late Sir Etienne Dupuch never tired of advising them in this column: When you go out to dig a grave for your opponent, don't leave before you have dug one for yourself.

Unfortunately, for this country Mr Christie has no cause for complaint. He is now only reaping the mischief that his own party - of which he was a prominent member - has sown.

Editorial from The Tribune - Nassau, Bahamas

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