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Our pillars need a Bahamian foundation

Renward Wells, the PLP candidate for Bamboo Town, is ready for his DNA opponent Branville McCartney.

Why? According to Wells, he knows the issues, and McCartney just wants to be prime minister.

“Branville is no leader,” he told Guardian Business.

“That’s the bottom line. He is smoke and mirrors. He doesn’t know what he’s about. He just wants to be prime minister.”

In this edition of My Ten Cents, the PLP candidate explained what he is all about. The topic at the tip of his tongue these days is the supposed “pillars” of the national economy. In his view, it’s hard to call them pillars when the foundations aren’t Bahamian.

“The Bahamian people don’t own any of the large tourism resorts in this country and they control one percent of the offshore banking industry,” he said.

“They are the major pillars but they’re foreign owned. If we are talking about employing the Bahamian people, the best way to do it is to give them the opportunity to own these pillars.”

The comments came on the heels of Kerzner International transferring ownership of its assets in The Bahamas and Mexico to Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian multinational with interests across many sectors.

“I think the government needs to be deliberate to address this issue,” he said. “Give locals more opportunities and incentives. I believe we have the capacity to carry this economy.”

Pointing out that he is not necessarily against foreign investment, Wells suggested that no incentives should be given to outside companies that aren’t given to locals.

The current model, he said, has been built on an idea that The Bahamas survives by direct foreign investment, and that’s how dollars enter the economy. Every country does that to an extent, but we must stop the cycle if Bahamians want to have a true stake in their core industries.

“We don’t really produce much in this nation. We buy a lot of stuff from the outside. Food security and energy security are very important to me, as is a 21st century education. Those are the real pillars and watch words of the Bahamian people. That’s the vision we must pursue,” Wells said.

He proposed that The Bahamas must truly focus on the 2,000 farmers in the country, empowering them with the techniques and equipment they need to feed the citizens. Wells explained that hydroponics and greenhouse technology have become prevalent in other areas of the world, such as Israel, to great success.

On the energy side, he pointed out that he has written policy papers on how to bring renewable energy into the country and incorporate it into existing infrastructure. He hinted that the current administration has taken some of those ideas on board, and under a PLP government, “we’ll really bring it to fruition”.

Wells expressed concern that, as he drives around Bamboo Town, so many residents are forced to keep their lights off because they can’t afford the bills.

“It’s ridiculous. It truly is,”he said.

“We have to look at reducing that burden for Bahamians and their businesses. We will lower the cost of doing business and give them a fighting chance.”

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