Use a national lottery to address BPL’s debt

Dear Editor,

I often joke that I am the smartest individual in the universe. As time goes on in our wonderful nation, I am beginning to really believe that.

Let us examine the proposed debt reduction at Bahamas Power & Light (BPL). It is commonly agreed and accepted that BPL and its corporate predecessor, Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), have been badly ran and managed for decades under successive administrations.

On balance, apparently, no one was checking and that entity was used as a cash cow and a depository of political hacks and supporters of the party of the day. While one is able to appreciate the mechanism of pure political patronage as played out in our wonderful nation, our people are now beginning to pay a heavy price for this unchecked phenomenon. Truly, the Androsian buzzards, the bigger-sized ones, have come home to roost.

The costs of utilities in The Bahamas, especially here on New Providence, is simply too high.

Individuals and businesses are struggling to keep current, pardon the pun, with their bills for the supply of current.

Couple this with alleged theft by employees and the excessive governmental regulations and half-baked policies, it is a wonder that more businesses and individuals have not yet gone under or closed their doors to the public. The current state of affairs is unsustainable.

BPL is now proposing a plan of action to reduce rates at that monopoly by increasing rates. This seems like something out of the proverbial Twilight Zone.

You say you are going to reduce electrical rates but the consumer has to first pay more? Since when has less become more and when did less become more? As the smartest individual in the universe, certainly The Bahamas, I have yet to figure this one out.

Managerial and structural changes and reforms are urgently needed at BPL.

When, Madam Editor, was the last time that audited financial statements were laid on the table of the House of Assembly? What are the stipends being paid to middle and top managers; directors and supervisors? No one, except at the ministerial and board levels, seems to know and, if they know, they are not revealing the same to the public. I tried Googling this information on assorted web sites, inclusive of BPL, to no avail. In fact, the page was blank.

The Christie regime allowed 10 individuals and corporate vehicles a monopoly on the gaming industry for a locked-in 10-year period. While I fully support regulated gaming, I never subscribed to the notion that a handful of chosen individuals would be able to hog up the vast majority of the potential profits from that industry.

For decades the web people them were operating outside the law and, by their own admission, amassing tens of millions of dollars in pure profits. When anyone dared to question the rationale behind this, the operators and their public relations hacks were quick to accuse those persons of being against black Bahamians making real money and were merely jealous! Well, blow me down!

To finance whatever has to be financed down at BPL, the Minnis administration should immediately introduce a national lottery to be owned by the people of the nation.

Of course, since the infrastructure is already in place the government could allow a consortium of web operators to actually run the national lottery and even to be allowed to own a 25 percent stake in the same. A similar percentage could be sold in small lots to ordinary Bahamians and the administration would hold 50 percent, not 49 percent as in the case of BTC.

If this is done there would be no need to increase electrical rates while seeking a pie in the sky debt reduction scheme.

Minnis and his people have a stellar opportunity to distance themselves from the old PLP under Perry Christie, but for whatever reasons, they just cannot seem to be able to get it right.

The PM has evolved into a Christie-like successor. He’s grown to become (maybe he always was like this but kept it well hidden when in opposition) more arrogant and dismissive than Christie.

Taxes across the board were too high under the old PLP.

With the advent of my good friend and crew, taxes are now up to the level of the stratosphere and beyond.

VAT was immediately raised when Minnis arrived. Utility rates have never been higher. Homeowners are pressed to keep current with their mortgages and tenants are obliged to duck their landlords.

Corned beef and white rice have again become the staple diet of thousands of Bahamians while the ruling classes, FNM and PLP, continue to eat steak and lobster for breakfast; smoked salmon and broccoli for lunch; and a succulent rack of lamb, with mint jelly, for supper.

All of these, of course, are washed down with the best champagne. The masses, if they are lucky, may find some public pump water or, at best, a can of soda.

For the sake of the people of The Bahamas, it is my desire to see the PM and his crew succeed. They must, however, climb down from their high horses and remember that the people of this wonderful country no longer are willing to grant a successive term to any party which appears to not be checking.

– Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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