||Last Updated: Apr 26, 2018 - 12:32:29 PM
Remarks by Philip Brave Davis MP, QC Leader, Opposition Progressive Liberal Party Southwestern Region Public Meeting Garvin Tynes Primary School 25 April 2018:
It is a pleasure to be back in the all-important southern corridor.
There is a current saying in our politics that the party that wins the southern corridor wins the government and so it is vitally important that we take our record of achievement and our message of empowerment, hope and compassion to this region.
In national news, dominating the headlines this week were comments attributed to the Prime Minister during his press conference upon his return from London.
It was amateur hour at the Apollo.
Dr. Minnis is still clearly mesmerized and full of excessive pride with the math of the general elections, 35 to 4.
Even as Bahamians have moved on from this equation and are now demanding concrete results from his government.
Bahamians want solutions. They want plans. They want a government to govern!
What was astounding and plain silly was his explanation to justify his corruption claims, and why he embarrassed our country by bad mouthing the country abroad.
He is calling Bahamians Corrupt!
Everywhere he goes these days, this is how the Prime Minister describes Bahamians to the world.
As I said in my statement released earlier this week, instead of sticking to the facts, he made snide remarks about the PLP.
And he is forgetting that he was hired to perform for and on behalf of the Bahamian people.
One way he can do that is to get his facts right.
He not only doubled down on his earlier $200 million corruption claim….
…but he has gone further and, without a sliver of evidence, boldly claimed that losses due to corruption in our country tally 500 million dollars.
Now this is more than twice as much as he said in Peru.
This is equivalent to 25% of our national budget and 5% of the country’s economy.
The Prime Minister has nothing to back it up. No evidence! No facts! No empirical data! No proof of the same.
Nothing! Just “I say so”. This is ridiculous! And unquestionably irresponsible!
This is absolutely a reckless conclusion by the Prime Minister!
He demonstrated a serious lack of understanding of the dynamics of our economy and public finances.
He does not understand the guarded systems already in place to guide his conclusions.
The lion’s share of the government’s budget is committed to non-discretionary expense items such as: salaries, benefits, other emoluments and the single largest expense allocation is for paying off government debt or amortization.
There is very little to no wiggle room in the budget and this is all the more reason why he must provide empirical data to substantiate his corruption claims.
Now I want to remind you all how the same man who is telling the world Bahamians are corrupt was the very Minister for Health in the last FNM Government who awarded himself a contract from the Public Hospitals Authority and never disclosed this to the Parliament!
I wonder if that same contract is still being paid for Dr. Minnis’ building?
Has he cancelled his PHA contract yet?
But let me get back to the matter at hand.
The Prime Minister should be telling the OAS what the facts are in his country and not the other way around.
Our takeaway is that nothing new or substantive came out of any of the Prime Minister’s overseas meetings.
It was just another Big Birthday Party trip at the public expense. A ‘gussiemae’ delegation of public waste!
But let me further develop this point.
For example, the US already provides assistance to us on migration issues.
We remind and caution the FNM government that the US has concerns about some flights coming here because they say the region from where they come is considered a link in the smuggling trail.
As for the decision of the British government to reopen their embassy here: THIS IS NOT NEWS!
This development has absolutely nothing to do with actions of the FNM Government, but rather the expectation that, when the British exit the European Union trading bloc (BREXIT), they can expand their trade opportunities with the Commonwealth as a substitute.
The world as we know it in EUROPE is about to change and the UK is making its way to position itself as a global player directly once again.
Surprisingly, our Prime Minister did not seem to know that both the US and Japan had agreed when the PLP was in office that they would not oppose concessionary loans to us on environmental and renewable energy projects.
His explanation for the size of his ‘gussiemae’ delegation was laughable.
This is obviously his Achilles heel.
He said that the public will accept these huge and expensive travelling delegations because they have access to all the information now.
This was laughable because the press conference was held in the same room where the former PLP administration held its press conferences when they returned home and reported every time to the Bahamian people.
Well, all we in the country want to know now is what was the cost to the taxpayers!
You think he will tell us what it cost for his last travels to Peru and London?
Man, look – I hear all kinds of personalities were on the trip.
The man who “March No More” – who told voters he was not an FNM - was in Peru. I wonder if he makes it to the Senate these days.
But I hear “Mr. March NO MORE” was in Peru.
All kind of friends and family were wining and dining at the public expense.
They all left with no plan, and they came back with no fresh new ideas - other than calling Bahamians corrupt!
But wasn’t it Prime Minister Minnis in a national address last year who told the nation they would bring an end to large delegation travels? WHAT CHANGED HIS MIND?
No matter the FNM propaganda, under the PLP, the public always had access to the information on foreign travels.
No matter the FNM propaganda is, we never stacked such large “GUSSIEMAE’ delegations!
And no matter their LIES…we delivered progress for the Bahamian people.
When we traveled we spoke well of the Bahamian people!
We invited the world to see what we were doing at BAMSI, in Tourism and our expanded growth through the development of our airports and port facilities.
We told the world how our jurisdiction was safe and secure. And we invited them to come and invest in our country.
Who promoted our offshore banking and financial service products, which are second to none!
What the FNM does not have now is a foolish opposition party like the FNM was when the PLP was in power. They touted lies in the face of obvious truths.
And I am now convinced that they are strangers to the truth!
We are nearing the end of the current fiscal year, which is the 30th June, 2018, so I have a rhetorical question for Finance Minister Peter Turnquest.
Will the Minister of Finance cause for some $400 million in bills to be paid at the last minute (between May and June 2018) as he did last year?
If not, then why not?
If that policy decision was a prudent one in 2017, why would it not be prudent in 2018?
I am sure that, given the reporting, accounting and cash management systems the PLP left in place in May 2017, the Ministry of Finance and the public treasury would not have paid some $400 million in bills at the last minute in June unless prompted to do so by the political directorate, that is, the incoming Finance Minister.
That political decision influenced the reporting of the Central Bank of The Bahamas.
I make this point because Peter Turnquest told the House on Wednesday 11 April 2018 that these public institutions are independent and that he does not interfere with their operation and work.
This is clearly untrue as he prompted the payment of $381 million in June 2017 to make a political point.
That in my view is political interference and manipulation.
If it is not, then we should see another $400 million payment in June 2018 since Peter Turnquest is insisting that "THE GOVERNMENT STANDS BY ITS TRANSPARENT ACTIONS AND SOUND PRACTICES ON FISCAL AFFAIRS".
To Mr. Turnquest, NO LIE LASTS FOREVER!
THE TRUTH WILL EVENTUALLY BE REVEALED!!
Has anyone seen “Mr. I don’t care” lately? Minister Jeffrey Lloyd who said how he would fire 200 plus workers in Education.
We see the Education Minister again in the media this week and, much like his cabinet colleague, the Health Minister, he is describing problems in education.
This time, Minister Lloyd is complaining that too many of our children lack the basic numeracy and literacy skills when they enter first grade.
Well, the policy prescription to close that gap is the public pre-school system, complete with the legislative regime governing its operation.
To add insult to injury, there is a proposal by a private donor before the Education Minister as we speak for the construction of a badly needed administrative building and pre-school unit at Sandilands Primary School.
The Minister refuses to pick this low hanging fruit at no cost to the government, but instead chooses to complain publicly about problems he was hired to fix.
Don’t complain, Minister Lloyd. You are no longer a talk show host! You are hired to fix the problems.
And if you cannot take the heat – Get out of the kitchen!
I was amused to hear the Works Minister admit that the FNM-appointed board inherited a business plan left behind by PowerSecure.
Those plans laid out the blueprint for the financing mechanism to construct new power generation plants, a restructured rate schedule to pay for the new power plants and the use of cleaner and cheaper alternative energy sources.
Now herein lies the hypocrisy of the FNM!
Now that the FNM has adopted the PLP inspired and approved business plan left behind on 10th May, what was all the fuss and howling about regarding the PowerSecure deal and Pamela Hill at the helm?
Remember how they fired the management firm and executives BPL?
If the PLP government wasted BPL’s money, as the FNM alleged, then how does Prime Minister Minnis and Works Minister Bannister explain an increase in BPL’s salary expenses from $52 million to $57 million since the 10th May 2017?
Since they fired workers, one would expect the payroll to decrease! What is happening here?
This information comes by way of BPL union executives.
The hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty of the FNM is dangerous, and guess what? They are shameless about it.
Mr. Bannister - NO LIE LASTS FOREVER!
IN TIME THE TRUTH WILL EVENTUALLY BE REVEALED!
The BPL board has raised $100 million by bond issue with a government guarantee and raised electricity rates to pay for the bond.
So what did the FNM do differently?
They came to office with NO PLAN for BPL, trashed the agreement in place, but in the end the only feasible plan and strategy for energy sector reform was the PLP’s plan, and, so, they are implementing it.
What BPL has not addressed, however, is the $500 million legacy debt, nor have they addressed the power self-generation and net metering program.
This we had put in place as part of energy sector reform.
Your PLP Government’s policy to address the legacy debt was the rate reduction bond, and we passed the enabling legislation to cause for the elimination of this legacy debt.
How will they now deal with this?
It is time for them to Govern – NOT COMPLAIN!
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement yesterday notifying us that The Bahamas government will issue visas to all Indian nationals upon arrival with valid Schengen, UK, USA and Canadian visas.
This provision was completed before your PLP government demitted office last year.
What becomes increasingly clear to all and sundry is that had it not been for the vision, strong leadership, sound planning, good decision making and successful work of the PLP during its last term in office, this FNM government would have absolutely nothing to brag about or hang their hats on.
Anyone recall how this Minister for Tourism, Mr. D’Aguilar, was up and down, talking down the development in Cable Beach and Bay Street?
Remember how he talked about how you could not trust the investors? What has happened now?
The larger point I make is that the Tourism Minister is now bragging about how Baha Mar has jumpstarted our tourism industry.
Or hear him now brag about and admit that the Pointe Hotel and Spa will anchor the revitalization of Bay Street as a tourism destination.
Mr. D’Aguilar – NO LIE LASTS FOREVER!
IN TIME THE TRUTH WILL EVENTUALLY BE REVEALED!
Essentially PLP’s, this is why we are gathered here tonight.
The unvarnished facts show that we represent the best leadership for our country!
We are the engines to inspire hope to fulfill the collective aspirations of the Bahamian people.
We in the PLP must own it, and we must wear it as a collective badge of honour. There can be no backing away from this.
We must not retreat on the point that we have the best plans and ideas to move our people forward!
In less than one year, the FNM has managed to set Freeport back at least fifty years with ill-advised legislation.
By effectively repealing the Investment Incentive Act, in addition to returning much of the quasi-government powers, including immigration matters, to the purview of the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
The status quo was one of the principle reasons for the current economic malaise on that island.
The FNM essentially botched the sale of Our Lucaya multiple times and the on-again, off-again purchase agreement appears uncertain at this time.
We also hear nothing of the agreement to construct a cruise port in East Grand Bahama, a project that will surely anchor a new bustling city and breathe new economic life into that part of Grand Bahama.
The firings continue unabated;
Unemployment has increased;
There is no relief for the poor;
There is no plan for Grand Bahama and the Family Islands;
No action in the inner cities as promised and no free university education as promised.
Sadly, millions are being spent with private auditing firms to conduct what are essentially political witch-hunts, but, to date none of these audits have discovered, uncovered or confirmed the lies of corruption and malfeasance told by the FNM on the campaign trail.
They are wasting time and the clock on their time to be fired by the Bahamian people is ticking!
This is a waste of the people’s money and the statute government authority for auditing public accounts, the Office of the Auditor General, must be allowed to carry out its constitutional function and mandate.
Further, I point out that, at no time, did the FNM campaign on corruption by civil servants who the Prime Minister now conveniently alleges take home pens, pencils, paper and paper clips from government offices.
His attack on marines was tasteless – if you ask me.
And the Prime Minister should apologise for his distasteful attack on our serving marines.
As I bid you good evening,
I want to remind you that we need you, each and every one of you, to join this march.
The reforms and retooling of our party continues.
Each branch member must be financial and active ahead of branch elections.
This is designed to foster a deepening transparent process in the elections within our organization.
I call on each and every one of you to let us walk the walk and embrace these necessary changes.
We are actively compiling a centralized membership listing – these membership listings currently reside in the branches.
The work of the constitution review committee continues, the policy work of the finance committee is substantially complete, and I have already appointed the candidates committee to ready the party’s search for the best team to place before the Bahamian people.
‘Cause, fellow PLPs, it ain’t long now!
Those who wish to represent this great party in 2022 must get on the ground now and connect with the people, as nominations and ratifications are grass roots efforts; this is the most democratic process.
Eleven months are gone and there are forty-nine months left to victory, which is not a long time, and we have much work to do.
Your PLP team will continue to constructively engage the Bahamian people in public forums, such as this, from Abaco in the north to Inagua in the south.
As a party, we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to regain the confidence and trust of the Bahamian people.
And, as I bid you good evening, I request your prayers and actively solicit your support.
Let’s move forward to continue the work in ousting this helpless and hapless, out of touch FNM government!
The FNM under the direction of Prime Minister Hubert Minnis has lost the moral authority to govern. And they have lost the compassion needed to lead this great country.
PLP! PLP! PLP!
God Bless you and Good Evening!
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