Friday, Dec 15, 2017
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Thank you, Mr. Ingraham

Dear Editor,

It would be easy to laugh off the inane and senseless statements emanating from the Free National Movement (FNM) government (generally in defense of equally inane and senseless actions) were it not so apparently committed to actions that will, at the least, be a distraction from the real issues of governance and, at most, cause this country irreparable harm.

While it has long been clear that Brent Symonette is no economist, his latest intervention in the discipline makes clear that he seldom even talks to economists. I am personally starting to doubt whether he talks to people who talk to economists.
Symonette makes the dubious claim that we need this Commercial Enterprises Bill to promote “higher incomes”, then gives us the example of call centers, an industry whose primary attraction to a jurisdiction is ‘competitive’ (i.e. low) wages. India is, in fact, now losing its competitive edge in the industry to places like Indonesia.

Had Symonette made even the most casual enquiries into regional experience, he would have found that Barbados, with wages about one half of those of The Bahamas, experimented with call centers at the end of the last century, only to have them march out en masse to lower wage jurisdictions.

Then again, if Symonette were in the habit of seeking information before he speaks, he would not have risen in Parliament and claimed the unemployment rate is 21 or 22 percent, when in fact it was 9.9 percent prior to the recent engagement of some 3,000 well paid workers at Baha Mar. It is likely around eight percent today.

Information is, unfortunately, neither a strength of the FNM nor those elements of the media that support them. That is why it is so refreshing to hear interventions from the likes of Hubert Ingraham, who benefits from the fact that the media cannot so easily dismiss his statements as it does those of the PLP, which it has worked so hard to delegitimize through stunning bias.

While people like myself have still not gotten over our alarm and disappointment over Ingraham’s immature departure in 2012 and his (decisive) endorsement of his hapless successor in 2017, his latest intervention was a reminder that, whatever those faults, he is at least a man who intelligently understands this country, its needs, opportunities and challenges (such as when he dismissed Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ dumb mischaracterization of the financial services industry as ‘dying’).

Without the sane intervention of people who actually know a little something about running the country, we end up with the spectre of a government ignoring and belittling a $4 billion investment in our midst as somehow not ‘real’ while trying to push on us the desperate need to lay down the red carpet for investors of $250,000.

Da people’s time! Go figure.

– Andrew Allen

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