Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ declaration on Wednesday night that the Free National Movement’s (FNM) “victory train” is on the move has triggered a round of intense political jabs, with Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis declaring yesterday that the FNM has cleaned out the public treasury.
That declaration came after Minnis — speaking at a town meeting that morphed into a political rally — warned that the PLP wants to come back to power to clean out the treasury this time.
In a statement, Davis said, “As for the prime minister’s charge that the PLP wants to return to power to clean out the treasury, Bahamians everywhere could see that the FNM has already done that.
“Pray tell, what will be left when the PLP gets there?
“By their own admission, there is no money in the public treasury and the constant and unsustainable borrowings prove this. The treasury is already clean so the PLP already knows we will meet no money in the public coffers.
“However, and unlike the FNM, the PLP will implement initiatives to improve government revenue performance and use that revenue to bring relief and to uplift the lives of all Bahamians.”
Davis added, “The government has absolutely nothing to show for the 60 percent hike in VAT (value-added tax) and higher gaming taxes as there are no hospital beds; no medicine in the hospitals; no teachers in the schools; crumbling infrastructure all around us; post hurricane repairs are stagnant; contractors and vendors still cannot get paid; university students are returning home because the government has failed to pay their scholarship tuition and the government had to recently borrow funds as much as four times in one fiscal year to meet its payroll.
“This is the Minnis legacy at a glance. All indications are that the Minnis government has already cleaned out the treasury and the cupboard is in fact bare as [Minister of Finance] Peter Turnquest once put it.”
A familiar theme of the FNM’s 2017 campaign was that the PLP was corrupt and stole the VAT it collected. The declaration by the prime minister on Wednesday night could be an indication of a continuation of that theme heading into the next election.
In his statement yesterday, Davis also accused Minnis of using taxpayer money to pay for a rally.
The event had been advertised as a town meeting for central constituencies on New Providence, but the prime minister and other senior FNMs were in full campaign mode.
Davis said, “With a struggling economy and a public purse under extreme pressure to meet government expenses, the prime minister clearly deceived the entire nation under the guise of a government-sponsored town hall meeting only to further fleece Bahamian taxpayers into funding a FNM rally.
“This is a corrupt use of public resources. The prime minister admitted that the meeting was the launch of his re-election political campaign.
“That meeting last night therefore must be paid for by the FNM party, not the Bahamian taxpayer. We however have zero confidence that the prime minister has the decency or integrity to do so.”
FNM Chairman Carl Culmer claimed yesterday the meeting was “sponsored” by the party, and a spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister said OPM did not fund the event.