Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and his FNM government won the election in May 2017 on the theme of the election,“It’s the People’s Time.”
Let me say at the outset that I supported Minnis and his FNM team. I am very concerned but have not given up on them. They have made a decision that does not support the middle class and challenged families.
The Minnis-led FNM government, to my surprise and utter dismay, passed what is commonly referred to as the “Credit Bureau Act”. I understand the view of the governor of the Central Bank who wholeheartedly supports this act. I also understand that the banks support the act, too. But, what about the people?
Who will be assisted by the act? Surely, middle-class families, the near-poor and poor will not be aided by this act in any way. Let’s say for argument’s sake that it is a good idea for The Bahamas to have a credit bureau. It is without question not the time for it, at least in terms of the middle class, near-poor and poor in our country today.
It was only a couple of years ago that we experienced the Great Recession (not seen in the world since 1929) in this country. While the worst effects of it were experienced in the U.S. in 2008 and 2009 and somewhat 2010, we, in The Bahamas, did not really begin to feel the drastic negative effects until 2011, at the earliest. That means that the U.S. came out of the worst of it earlier and we have not really gotten out of the effects of it as yet.
Middle-class families and the near-poor (who are desperately struggling daily to join the middle class) would be set back like we have never seen. The setback would indeed be unprecedented, and for who’s benefit? Certainly not the most important group in any society that contributes more than any other to economic growth, vitality, energy and, by most accounts, worldwide, a real barometer as to how well a country is doing.
To implement a credit bureau when Bahamian families, for the most part, with few exceptions, probably would have a poor re-payment record with most of their creditors, especially mortgages, personal loans, credit cards and let us not forget utility bills (they too will be tracked and considered to arrive at your score), would be ruinous for most middle-class families and those, right now, daily struggling to achieve that standard of living, as they should. We ought to applaud them and assist them wherever and whenever possible rather than place monstrous roadblocks and obstacles in their way.
Lastly, perhaps Minnis and his FNM government, if for no other reason, would realize that for the party to win the next general election (just 37 months away), as it always has been, it will need the middle class and the very same people who are desirous of achieving that standard of living and doing all they can for their families, their children, to achieve it, struggling every day. As the young people say, “The struggle is real!”