||Last Updated: Jun 27, 2017 - 8:57:52 PM
The following is the 2017 Budget Presentation by Senator Hon. Jamal Moss:
I rise this day in this Honourable Chamber, on the strength of none other than God, Almighty.
I, would like to express, my sincere and warm gratitude, to those who have played a role, in my being here today. I will forever be grateful to you and for what you have done to motivate me and aid me along my life's journey.
My fellow Senators, I am humbled, to rise to my feet in this hallowed chamber and speak on behalf of my party, the Free National Movement but also on behalf of The Youth of this Great Nation and the Down Trodden.
It was just a month ago, that my fellow Bahamians gave the Free National Movement, the Mandate to govern for the next five years. However, while we are the FNM by name, we are the Government of The Bahamas, and as such, we govern for all Bahamians from Alice Town to Matthew Town.
In keeping with the motto of this great little nation we must move Forward, Upward, Onward and most importantly TOGETHER.
As we chart a new course in the pursuit of Greatness, we must never forget from whence we have come. As the opposition party once claimed to "wipe the tear from every eye" they in fact were the very ones who made the rest of us CRY.
After a glossary perusal of the figures, I see a complete lack of financial discipline and some questionable accounting. They said they believed in Bahamians, yeah, if the Bahamians they were referring to, were themselves.
The people have spoken in the May 10, 2017 General Elections and they have - by the largest win margin in an independent Bahamas - elected the Free National Movement, to rescue this Commonwealth, from the hands, of what appeared to be, a corrupt, self-fulfilling, self-serving, government in the previous Administration.
The people deserve a government that is accountable and transparent; one that exercises fiscal prudence; a government that will cap its expenditure to control the country's rising debt, and one that will plug wastage on government departments.
Due to the failures of the previous government, the Bahamian people have suffered tremendously over the past five years……..IT'S THE PEOPLES' TIME NOW AND THEIR RELIEF IS HERE!!!!!!
The previous government showed the Bahamian people that accountability and transparency in public finances was not something that they were prepared to do, much less to be.
The continued pressures applied on the previous government to reveal how the over $1Billion in taxes collected from Value Added Tax was spent, fell on deaf ears for the most part, and when they did finally give an explanation, they gave us a make-shift report and shoved it down our throats. But thank God!, that is now a thing of the past.
Can you imagine the former government running a programme costing $30Million a year in contracts to cronies and known PLP campaign workers? This programme, which falls under the Bahamas Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority, was one that gave over one thousand of such contracts to cronies who were paid every month. These contracts ranged anywhere from $900 to $8,000 per month.
What is so perplexing about these particular contracts is that the same agency employs hundreds of government workers to do exactly the same thing!
Not only that, this same agency runs a trucking programme that hires private trucks to pick up debris from the roadside to the tune of up to $5,000 per month.
The facilitation of this trucking programme represents yet another example of how taxpayers' hard-earned dollars were being wasted and abused. Would you believe that there is an identical programme that falls under the authority of the Department of Environmental Health and called the "Bulk Waste Programme" that also gives out monthly contracts to perform the same duties? What is even more disheartening is that the island remained just as dirty while debris piled up even higher despite this duplication.
The Bahamian people had called on the previous government to redirect taxpayers' dollars to programmes that would enhance the economic outlook and stimulate economic growth for all Bahamians, not just a select few, but those calls too, fell on deaf ears.
If we were to take a closer look at the composition of other successful developing countries, we would note that the facilitation of the establishment of small and medium-sized businesses, is one of the key driving forces of those countries. Business strategies have also been put in place to ensure these small and medium businesses have the opportunity to succeed.
On that note, and as a young Bahamian male, I was more than excited; I was actually ecstatic to learn that the Government of The Bahamas; this Government of The Bahamas; this People's Government, will launch a youth entrepreneur and youth development programme over the next five years that will inspire and empower a new generation of Bahamian entrepreneurs, among other initiatives, on the drawing board.
The programme will assist young Bahamian entrepreneurs with capital and equipment, while equipping them with the necessary business management skills such as how to save and manage money and how to re-invest in, and scale up, their businesses in order to make those businesses more sustainable.
The Honourable Prime Minister said, the programme will also teach young Bahamian entrepreneurs how to market their products or services, all in an attempt to make those businesses more sustainable. The Government will also seek the assistance of other successful businesses to gain additional ideas that will be included in the design and launch of this major initiative.
These are the kinds of initiatives our beloved people were calling for over the last five years. They just wanted an opportunity to compete; to be given the chance to compete. Those calls obviously fell on deaf ears during the last five years. No more. IT IS TRULY, THE PEOPLES' TIME!!!
Instead of putting these types of programmes in place, all the former government did was to create storehouses for family, friends and the few faithful. You don't believe me. Okay, then let's talk about the tens of millions of dollars wasted on consultancy contracts for National Health Insurance; Tourism, Labour, etc the hiring of government consultants all over the Public Service with hefty salaries; (insert ian poiter, $1 million & Health
· $25Million over a three-year period for junkanoo carnival;
· The building of sidewalks throughout New Providence for example, in areas that did not need them…..
ALL UNNECESSARY AND A WASTAGE OF PUBLIC FUNDS AND TAXPAYERS' HARD-EARNED DOLLARS!!!
What is so, so, so exasperating about all of these matters, is that the PLP was playing nilly-willy with the public purse while
· Police Officers had to work in run-down police stations;
· while Defence Force Personnel were short on bullets;
· while there were shortages of supplies in Government clinics in the Family Islands;
· while small and medium-sized businesses suffered;
They played nilly-willy while Bahamians continued to struggle in an economy that grew too slowly and showed little to no prospect for tangible growth and, while they did not have a plan to overhaul Inner-City Communities nor create individual economic opportunities for those communities as part of the overall national economic plan for the country.
No need to worry though. The Peoples' Government has such an economic plan in place to revitalize the local communities while creating economic opportunities for all who are willing to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices to ensure their success.
While the good people of Grand Bahama saw little growth on their island and while the people of central and south Andros saw little to no development and economic stimulation in their communities - and the same could be said for many of our islands - the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was increased from 24-26Million dollars over two Fiscal Periods whereas the former Minister of Foreign Affairs traveled extensively - including trips to as far as Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates.
All the while, the former government was shouting from the rooftops and everywhere else, about how they "Believed in Bahamians." But as someone near and dear to me always used to say: "Talk is cheap, but money buys land."
Prior to being kicked out of office on May, 10, 2017, Progressive Liberal Party Government bound the taxpayers' dollars to contracts for cronies to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars thereby creating an automatic need for almost $400Million at a time when we are on a fiscal cliff, in an attempt to capture the last piece of the pie, but God had a different plan. He saw the level of corruption and booted them out!!
Can you imagine inheriting a budgetary obligation of $400Million while still having to find another $322Million to meet the needs of the country? The PLP wrecked us and blamed the hurricane for the sudden deficit (3). Might I add that they borrowed around $250Million for restoration efforts and we still do not have a report on how those monies were spent. Seems like every dollar they touch, goes up in smoke!!!
The Plan for the Peoples' Government is clear and precise. Our Plan is to give the Bahamian people the things they expect from their government: Transparency, accountability, prudent management of taxpayers dollars; the creation of opportunities for real Bahamian ownership; the promotion and implementation of effective training systems for youth empowerment, and the creation of safe and secure environments for our communities.
The Bahamian People expect all of this and more from us, MADAM PRESIDENT, while being fiscally responsible, creating a debt cap; cutting expenditures to decrease budget deficits and incrementally moving our budget from a deficit to a surplus to eliminate borrowing, while growing the economy through the development and sustaining of small and medium businesses, owned by Bahamians. I want to say to the Bahamian people: We hear you! We will do right by you and we will, DELIVER!!!!
As a young man, I would like to speak to the importance of youth empowerment. Over the past five years, many of our young people have left The Bahamas, or failed to return after completing College or University abroad, or to start up businesses elsewhere, because they felt the playing field was not level for them.
Other young people have felt that they were being ostracized; that they did not have a clear voice in the direction their country was headed. Some feel angry; some feel betrayed, some feel dismayed. I know how they feel - particularly those who have had to struggle everyday just trying to make a positive difference.
I have a similar story. My grandfather, whom I loved dearly and deeply, died when I was just 13 years of age. My dear Mother, died one year later, when I was 14 years of age. Over the course of the next three years, I bounced around from family member to family member who - despite their best intentions - could not afford to allow me to stay with them for any extended period of time because they were building their own families and I basically became a financial burden to them.
At the age of 17, I was forced to live on my own which I have been doing from that time until now. I am 33 years of age. My experiences could have weakened me, but I gained strength from it and an abiding Faith and Trust in God that He who is; Him who was, and He who is to come, will always make things right. I was taught early in life that the Almighty God will always make the Crooked Path straight. And He has.
I say this not to look for sympathy, but to be a beacon for other young people who have struggled; some even more mightily than me, and are just looking for a chance; for an opportunity to make something of themselves.
I thank the Honourable Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Alexander Minnis, for this opportunity to represent the people's voice in this honourable Chamber.
I pledge this day, and forever more, to pick up the mantle laid down by our Honourable Prime Minister who has made a pledge to Bahamian young people both at home and wherever they may reside, that he will work hard, every day to provide young Bahamians with opportunity and hope for the future, as he will do for every Bahamian.
Today, I stand in this Honourable Place as Senator, the Honourable Jamal J. Moss, only by Faith, only by being Steadfast, and only by the Grace of the Almighty God. I want you to know that if God can do this for me, He certainly can do it for you.
I THANK YOU!
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