Minister of State for Legal Affairs Elsworth Johnson said it is “unconscionable” that political parties in The Bahamas sell the idea to their supporters that they are entitled to government contracts and products.
“For the sake of our Bahamaland I pray that we assist in transforming the culture of politics in The Bahamas,” Johnson wrote in a message on Wednesday.
“There seems to be a growing and insatiable appetite for what some call the benefits and spoils of an election victory.
“What is unconscionable is that we seem to sell the idea that there is an entitlement by our supporters to the products and services (contracts, etc.) within the government’s remit without regard for qualification or hard work.
“It seems that over the over years we have fostered an attitude of entitlement and a spirit of ‘I have arrived, so give me mines now’.
“…I remain committed.”
The Free National Movement (FNM) wiped out the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in the 2017 general election, winning 35 seats to the PLPs four.
The PLP got 37 percent of the votes, while the FNM got 57 percent of the votes.
The FNM, led by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, pledged a paradigm shift in what would become an era of transparent, accountable and good governance, with clear, targeted goals to advance The Bahamas and empower Bahamians.
In December 2017, the government announced the beginning of the first phase of its new procurement portal, designed to make the process of doing business with government more efficient, transparent and less susceptible to corruption.
The first phase was funded by a $331,396 grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which provided for the development and implementation of the phase one electronic registry suppliers. It will also help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises “to increase competitive participation in public procurement systems throughout the region”.
When Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest made the announcement of the first phase, he said the new system would bring greater accountability, transparency and modernity to government business.
At the time, Turnquest also noted that the Public Procurement Bill would be introduced in early 2018, but that has yet to happen.
In October 2018, following two reports that suggested procurement procedures at the Ministry of Finance (MOF) have been amiss, Turnquest said the country’s procurement legislation was “almost ready”.
Asked about the bill last month, Attorney General Carl Bethel said, “It won’t be very long. No, it hasn’t been tabled yet because it’s still out for consultation and there’s some minor tweaking still to do just to get it in proper shape.
“We have to strike the right balance between efficiency and transparency.”