Editorials

Still novices all around

Three years after some 80 percent of the members of our Parliament were first elected many are still behaving and acting as novices.

The competent authority has determined that the Bahamian economy can safely reopen for business between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Bahamian citizens and residents left stranded abroad by the closure of international borders at the end of March may return to The Bahamas; beaches and parks may reopen on COVID-free Family Islands, and tourists may begin returning to the country beginning last week Monday via private aircraft and boats, and via commercial aircraft beginning on July 1; all this while a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew remains in place.

No one is exactly clear on what the entry requirements for individuals entering The Bahamas will be from one day to the next.

Announcements by the competent authority or by the minister of tourism vary on the details and the necessary emergency order giving effect to the various announcements often lag.

The minister of state for disaster preparedness addressed Parliament two weeks into the 2020 hurricane season and called for the implementation of a national evacuation plan.

The government previously made evacuations mandatory.

He maintained that the people of Abaco were prepared for this year’s hurricane season though he admitted that no hurricane shelters had been designated for Central Abaco, the area hardest hit by Hurricane Dorian.

The minister of education reported that his ministry is in the final stages of amending the Education Act.

He noted that the legislation, last amended in 1996, will not require the overhaul he previously announced. Amendments will now address technology in the delivery of education and a legal framework for home schooling, which has been regulated by policy only.

Why it was thought necessary to involve UNESCO in the review remains unclear.

Embroiled in arguments with some teachers and parents over the decision to offer national exams notwithstanding the suspension of in-person classes in mid-March, the minister has never provided valid reasons for the three-month suspension of classroom instruction on COVID-19 free islands.

These schools remained shuttered for months notwithstanding not a single detection of the disease on the islands with mandated closed internal and international borders.

The member of Parliament for North Andros complained that potential investors in his constituency bypassed him and instead approached the government’s agency that processes foreign direct investment (FDI).

That is precisely what investors are supposed to do. It is up to the government to consult members of Parliament.

The MP is clearly not familiar with his own party’s supposed commitment to prevent influence peddling and lobbying, which for decades gave The Bahamas a reputation as a ‘nation for sale’.

The minister responsible for housing reports that he is startled to learn that nearly half the mortgages at the Mortgage Corporation are in arrears.

Apparently, he is unaware that many borrowers have been “under water” since the Great Recession.

Their strained finances have been worsened by the COVID-19 related close down of the economy which left thousands with reduced or no incomes.

We find the lack of appreciation for the principles of governance by so many in government distressing.

Our stress is hardly allayed by those in opposition whose leaders often times only oppose a policy until they support it or vice versa.

The member of Parliament for Exuma was quick to advise that the government’s proposed relief assistance to individuals and to small businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 economic shutdown was inadequate.

He called for borrowing of as much as $2 billion.

When the government sought relief by accessing our money held by the IMF, the Exuma parliamentarian suddenly discovered that such action would imperil the country.

Not to be outdone, the opposition leader opposed closing our borders to Bahamians and residents abroad and found the Emergency Powers Regulations and Orders an overreach by the government.

He refused to support their extension of lockdowns and curfews.

Then, when the government began to reopen of the economy he suddenly discovered that The Bahamas was unready to reopen and that the government was moving too quickly to remove the restrictions that he had not supported in the first place.

Sadly, too many parliamentarians do not understand their roles; worse, they do not know that they do not know.

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