We need freedom of information

Dear Editor,

As a taxpayer and a businessman, I find it strange and, in fact, take great offense when Bahamians are told by the relevant entity or authorities that the salaries of individuals employed by governmental agencies and corporations are no one’s business in the public domain as the revelation could lead to those individuals being targeted by criminals.

This is so stupid that it is not funny.

If you are the managing director at Bahamas Power & Light, the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation, the Bank of The Bahamas; financial secretary at the Ministry of Finance; the managing director at the National Insurance Board, etc., the public has the right to know the level of compensation and the extent of perks. No more, no less.

It has been rumored that big bucks are being paid to individuals who are quasi civil servants.

On social media platforms, there’s been speculation that a high ranking individual who is employed via contract with the Ministry of Finance is pulling down close to $200,000 per year plus unknown perks! Is this true in a climate where our national debt hovers close to $9 billion? Is this true when old age pensions average about $250 per month?

If the long promised and constantly tweaked Freedom of Information Act were to come in to force, citizens may be in a better position to know the levels of compensation packages being drawn down by some civil servants and those who are quasi.

Some of these same people used to be in the private sector and, as far as I am aware, possess no special financial or other qualifications.

The attorney general has yet to inform us just how much of taxpayers’ money he and the administration spent/wasted on bogus prosecutions vis-à-vis Shane Gibson and Frank Smith.

The Office of the Prime Minister, historically and for many decades, has/had a wicked habit of compulsorily acquiring the average Bahamian’s private property for public purposes, but has never paid those affected the market compensation mandated by law.

In a business capacity, I personally know of at least one man whose land was acquired over 30 years ago and he is still waiting to be paid.

One woman’s elderly father went overboard at Potter’s Cay 18 years ago. There was no lighting and no barriers.

The then chief justice rendered a judgment for damages to the estate of the deceased and the people are still waiting for a few dollars. There was never an appeal so the government is obliged to pay the people.

You all are all able to recall when the newly elected FNM and Minnis came to power in 2017. They promised during the campaign that they would itemize the travel expenses for all government related travel. They have yet to produce one, just like brother Christie who jetted off to the Vatican with a gussiemae entourage to kiss the pope’s hand or was it something else?

There was a time when I believed that I would have entered elective politics but the call of the church was, at that time, more persuasive.

These are challenging days and times and all right-thinking Bahamians must step up to the plate.

We have been shucking and jiving ever since independence.

Our leaders by and large were on a personal run and not for nation building, or so it seems. God willing, a change must come. To that same God, in all things, be the glory.

 Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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