Selling BTC to foreigners a threat to nat’l development
National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest escalated the dispute between the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)unions and the government over the sale of the majority stake in BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC), when he described the unions’protest as a national security threat.
Turnquest, in an interview withThe Nassau Guardian, went further and stated that the security forces are on alert for any eventuality regarding the dispute. The BTC unions have threatened, with the support of the national trade union movement, a general strike.
Union leaders always threaten to strike when they don’t get their way. In order to carry out a successful strike, however, a majority of the workers represented by these leaders have to support the strike call. And these workers have to be prepared for pain and loss.
There is no evidence, thus far, proving that the members of these unions are prepared to go down this rough road.
The unions have been annoying to the government, but they have not been a national security threat. In fact, the union opposition has been somewhat weak.
There were only a few hundred people at the union march on Parliament in December that number includes the members of the Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)and other splinter parties which participated. These unions represent tens of thousands of workers.
Only a few hundred people showed up at the union-organized’mass rally’at R.M. Bailey Park on Monday night.
These unions can’t even bring out a good crowd.
The minister has engaged in hyperbole. And by invoking the security forces under his command the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defence Force he appears menacing.
The government and its agencies should be on alert for mass disruptions rather than some nebulous national security threat. The unions are likely to continue with small-scale disruptions.
National security threats are actions that threaten the existence of a state. Strike calls by union leaders who cannot turn out their membership do not threaten the existence of The Bahamas.
The decision to sell a major Bahamian state asset to a foreign company, however, is a threat to the national development of the country.
The policy of all Bahamian governments should be to empower Bahamians. They should especially attempt to create more entrepreneurs and to further empower those already in business.
When Bahamians own enterprises, rather than foreigners, more money stays in the country and more Bahamians are usually hired to operate the business.
Furthermore, empowering Bahamians by making Bahamians owners of BTC would allow those Bahamians to then become players in the regional telecommunications industry. Policymakers should be aiming for Bahamians to someday take over telcos across the Caribbean.
Instead, the PLP and the Free National Movement(FNM)administrations want to sell a major chunk of this major state asset to foreigners.
A privatization policy is needed in The Bahamas. It should state that bidders for state assets either be Bahamian or they should be joint venture partnerships with Bahamians.
The love of foreigners over Bahamians when it comes to the BTC privatization process is the threat Bahamians should be concerned about when it comes to the PLP and the FNM.