There is an ongoing illusion that Bahamians can just decide that they are going to run extremely large enterprises based on the fact that they are Bahamians, and that being Bahamian is the only qualification that one needs if they are going to take charge, seeing that they have been “running it” all alone.
I wish that these sentiments, however illusory, would have found an earlier expression in the public education system, where the number of qualified individuals with Master’s degrees seem to be greater than those without. There is nothing wrong with wanting to own and run a company, but we are deluding ourselves if we think that it is something we just up and do because the options are being reduced or taken away from us by time and technology.
There was a recent story that made mention of the strides that Bahamians had made in the ownership and management of major businesses in the country, except for the Bank of The Bahamas all the entities and many others qualified. All of them passed the “put your money where your mouth is test” and they all shared the similarity of growing over time into the significant contributors they are today. If we are to listen to what is being proposed by some who have the expertise to run BTC, we must agree that Bahamians must be intimately involved in the process, but we have to ask the question: if Bahamians are to own and operate BTC, where is the money coming from?
We are painfully aware that governments do not do well in the area of private enterprise, and it is unacceptable for the public to fund another Bahmasair, when BTC has the potential to grow into something that will dwarf Cable Bahamas in terms of the services it can provide the Bahamian public; and this, through the use of private capital. We speak about privatization, but we have to leave the Public Treasury out of it; even though that is “our money”. It is similar to saying we “own” BTC also: Do we understand?
If there was time and money, in goodly amounts, the transition to privatization under full Bahamian sponsorship would be something that we could look forward to, but we do not have that luxury at our disposal, On the present track the jobs of about 1,200 persons will be secured for a while, but with each passing day there is a whittling away of the BTC customer base as improved technology widens the number of avenues that Bahamians can utilize for communication purposes. We must face the reality that some jobs being done today in BTC will not exist in another 18 months. Will the government have to pass legislation to protect those jobs from the onslaught of technology?
The ability to communicate has to do with just the apparatus we use to do so. Communication in its ultimate expression is about how we see life and express it. Even though I write about this issue occasionally, I would not like to be in the middle of the decision. This decision rests with those who have gone on public record as knowing what is best for the wider community.
However, their problems will be minimized in the making of those decisions if all of the persons involved in the process see this as a national undertaking, devoid of politics and preferential agenda seeking.
By: EDWARD HUTCHESON