Thirty years of advocating for this country’s long-term welfare has taught me one abiding, unalterable truth: Bahamian satire writes itself. Over and over again, successive governments have breathed life into the old adage, “you can’t make this stuff up.”
I opened the paper last week to see an incensed Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar warning the American co-owner of the Compass Point resort not to “bully” the Bahamian government. The businessman, it seems, had reached a tipping point somewhere along the protracted, meandering, treacherous, arbitrary and capricious road to nowhere that we call our business licensing “system.” He had the audacity to complain. I mean really!
Frequent Nassau Guardian OpEd contributor, “Front Porch”, was quick to leap to the defense of government, despite the fact that The Bahamas ranks #119 out of 190 countries in the 2019 Ease of Doing Business Index.
Some of the countries with higher rankings include: The West Bank and Gaza, Malawi and Papua New Guinea. Could it be the owner of Compass Point might be legitimately fed up?
Compass Point employs 60 real-life, flesh-and-blood Bahamians. You can go to the resort and actually see them. The resort serves living, breathing, verifiable long-stay visitors to The Bahamas. You know, the kind that our minister of tourism says spend 20-25 times more than cruise ship tourists.
But no ear for Compass Point! No sir, not even the opportunity to suggest changes to existing laws and practices that might make doing business in The Bahamas a little easier and a little more attractive to foreign investors.
Let’s compare government’s attitude towards Compass Point to government’s attitude towards the proposed Disney cruise port at Lighthouse Point. Not once did anyone in government accuse Disney of bullying, even when Disney— on the eve of government’s yes or no decision about Lighthouse Point — threatened to pack up and go away if the project was not approved.
Oh, and about all those onerous licensing procedures, the HOA fast-tracks and simplifies everything for Mickey.
If Minister D’Aguilar is serious about pushing back against bullies, maybe he should take another look at the Lighthouse Point deal.
Give me a break!
– Sam Duncombe