Monday, Sep 25, 2017
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Reset and re-engineer

Dear Editor,

The gold rush administration and the prime minister should have had a Cabinet shuffle years ago. While it may be too late in this term to do so, it is now clear that once we are returned to high office, as we will, that some of the current ministers will have to be reassigned to other portfolios or dismissed from Cabinet. A harsh assessment but the nation and party are bigger than any one individual.

I am a proud and strong supporter of the PLP and its leadership in the form of PGC and Philip Brave Davis (PLP-Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador). We are the oldest political party in our wonderful nation and we have been and continue to remain on the cutting edge of progress. All of our national institutions would have been initiated and developed by assorted PLP administrations. Our track record is solid and we need make no apologies.

We started out really well in 2012/2013 considering the financial mess which the FNM and Hubert Ingraham left the country in. The treasury was, allegedly, broke and the incoming administration was hard pressed to scrape up funds to cover checks which had already been written but not yet issued. Crime was a challenge then and it remains one to this very day. Ownership of residential land here in New Providence continues to be but a fleeting illusion. Unemployment is too high and has now been tweaked even higher with the closure of Memories hotel in Freeport.

I do not like the performance of several ministers and they know just who they are. It is very unfortunate that some of our colleagues in our party are thin-skinned and react to critiques of their Cabinet performances as personal attacks, which they are not. Some of them no longer speak to me. So, who cares?

Tourism is not growing in real terms under the watch of minister Obie Wilchcombe. Some claim, dubiously, that he is the best orator in the PLP. I beg to differ. He has sought to mold himself into a “Mini-Sir Lynden”, if that were possible. Apart from being able to mouth good-sounding words, show me, please, a single initiative launched by this man who would be prime minister to counteract the recent opening up of the Cuban tourism market. I have spoken to several of his Cabinet colleagues. He is not well liked or trusted, or so they say. They know who they are.

Major hotels in Grand Bahama are shuttered. Memories, the hotel, is now just that to hundreds of Bahamians, memories. Obie is an abject failure and must be shuffled shortly after our return to office. New Providence touristic-related sites are in a state of disrepair and a sad experience for visitors and Bahamians.

It is remarkable that the Ministry of Tourism has not seen fit expand the brand. In fact, more than 60 percent of visitors say that they won’t be coming back anytime soon. Where is the minister of tourism in all of this? When will the George Street building be completed? Is it still on budget and who has the contract? Obediah has to be shuffled.

The minister of transport and aviation, while deserving of kudos for her stellar role in securing remittances for the airspace over our nation, she has to be concerned with the chaotic vehicle licensing system or lack thereof. The Road Traffic Department (RTD) runs out of plates on a routine basis. Sad.

Millions have walked out of the doors at the main post office. More than a year ago police were called in to investigate and someone was sent home. Not a single word since then. Several millions gone from RTD?

I fully appreciate that as the beloved daughter of our beloved former deputy prime minister that the minister is expected to have a seat at the Cabinet table. What else does she bring that has distinguished her two tenures as minister? She may well be better suited as attorney general, once we would have shuffled Senator Allyson Maynard-Gibson back to the Financial Services Ministry.

My favorite female Cabinet minister is Hope Strachan, who would make an excellent minister of commerce, trade and industry. Hope is one of the real bridges to the future.

The PLP has a very short window of opportunity to reset the button, so to speak and to re-engineer our game plans as we approach the general election. The PM must free up access to Crown land for residential building purposes by Bahamians. He must also seek and obtain parliamentary approval to set up specialized accounts for specialized purposes. This artificial notion that all governmental revenues must go into a Consolidate Fund is outdated and could lead to mismanagement and/or miscalculations.

One has only to study the ongoing VAT debacle. Minister Michael Halkitis (PLP-Golden Isles), a good and decent man of the highest integrity, waxed eloquently at the recent PLP convention about, “That’s where the VAT money gone.” I was present and I must confess that while he sounded good, his explanation, if that is what it was, was not too coherent. His speechwriter did him a grave disservice. He too may have to be shuffled into a full ministry later on down – maybe minister of transport or, better yet, tourism.

The PLP, however, despite it all, is still, in my humble opinion, the best choice. The PM, our beloved political leader, has been returned. He owes all Bahamians a sacred duty to get it right in short order. We in the PLP know what has to be done, but we appear too often to be dithering and waiting for the stars to be properly aligned. This stance is now passe and we have to put on more speed.

To God then, in all things, be the glory.

 

– Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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