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Statement on the FTAA

The Sovereignty of the Bahamas is in jeopardy as a result of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Agreements. This agreement will have grave consequences for our Bahamas. Bahamians from all walks of life will be affected. Sovereignty refers to our government and the empowerment given comes by us the electorate to act on our behalf in the enactment of public policy. The Minister モsupposedlyヤ responsible for this issue has モleftヤ his head in the sand. Once again this Minister is out of step with reality as he ignores all pertinent facts about adverse issues concerning our Bahamas. With his foot in his mouth, Laing goes on record as stating that the Bahamasᄡs sovereignty and issues thereof will not be harmed by the モinequalitiesヤ of the FTAA accord. Unbeknown to Mr. Laing and his FNM government, is that this FTAA agreement opens the Bahamas up to a slew of challenges for which they have failed to prepare us for. This incompetence is inexcusable and totally irresponsible.

Here again, we are faced with a モhorrorヤ environment that bears similarity to the Banking fiasco. This FTAA agreement is certain to be pushed down our throats and weᄡll end up being モBlacklistedヤ, as failure to sign-on will result in exorbitant tariffs that make it cost prohibitive for the Bahamas to operate as a unilateral sovereign nation. The progressive developments by the FNM government and its missteps lead all logical thinking persons to conclude that モBlacklistingヤ or some other モMonsterヤ is certain. The FNM government is suspiciously quiet on this very important issue.

This governmentᄡs missteps and blunders over the past nine years clearly indicate the forcible action they have had to take due to the assault on sovereignty. These include:

1. Introduction of a second language in many public schools ヨ the forerunner to the one Caricom market which comprises a dominant Spanish market

2. The implementation of suffocating financial services legislation 3. Ill prepared and ill advised Privatization of public entities

In keeping with its perfect record of sabotaging and stifling certain sectors of our precious Bahamian economy this government has viewed Bahamian Agriculture & fisheries with a モcocked-eyeヤ. The Agricultural sector of our economy has been annihilated under the FNM and will be totally obliterated upon completion of the FTAA agreements. Negotiations are occurring in secret and no texts have been made publicly available to the Bahamian people. Therefore, Bahamians cannot know the details of the draft text of the agreements that will impact the quality of life in the Bahamas for years to come. We will all be blind-sided by this agreement.

If the Bahamas is working with Caricom to guard against the cost burden that may result from complying with FTAA rules what is the trade-off for such? Can the Bahamas work with Caricom and enjoy the benefits of free movement of goods without free movement of services which include labor? FTAA is simply an expansion of NAFTA and WTO which will cover the 34 countries in this hemisphere. Based on the NAFTA model over 300,000 jobs have been lost by the Unites States to Mexico where labor cost is much cheaper.

The FTAA agreement is to be implemented by 2005. The Bahamian people deserve to know in totality the impact of these discussions in a forum similar to that of the antics placed in introducing amendments to the Inheritance Laws. Trade Liberalization and globalization are not to be taken lightly and an ignorant population will be fleeced without their realizing it until the consequences are too late. A government must first recognize and respect the sovereignty of its own individual citizens before they can respect the sovereignty of other nations. In the case of the FNM government, the reverse is true and the Bahamian people are dealt blows that they canᄡt understand without proper explanation. A government empowered only by the consent of those who are governed, offers the best hope of advancing the health, happiness, and prosperity of all Bahamians. I urge the government to take heed before itᄡs too late!

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