Happy Father's Day!

My fellow Bahamians

 

Today, all across the globe, the world is pausing to celebrate fathers. Whether you call him Dad, Daddy, or Papa. Fathers are invaluable.  Our fathers are our providers and our playmates. They are our teachers, our disciplinarians, and our friends. Most of all they are our protectors; the first line of defense in preserving the family structure which forms the very foundation of our communities and our country.   Now more than ever, fathers play a vital role in the development of their children, and, like many of you, I take my responsibilities as a father very seriously.

In a world which is filled with distractions, it is the duty of Fathers to raise their children. This duty goes far beyond just physical or financial care. It means being present in the lives of your young ones. It means being there for every triumph, and every failure. It means providing encouragement and preparing them to become fully functioning members of society.

This Fathers Day I join the nation in saluting the men, who continue to step up to the plate. Equally important, are father figures. The men who step in where others are absent. They are community leaders, teachers, pastors, coaches, uncles and brothers. On this day we applaud your efforts as well.

There is a famed quote by Frank Pitman which says: Fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. That said,  I would also like to encourage Fathers and Fathers to be to find the strength and the courage to become a man perfected by the trials of fatherhood.

On behalf of the Democratic National Alliance and from my family to yours. I wish you all a happy fathers’ day.

 

 

Buscheme Armbrister

Deputy Leader

Democratic National Alliance

DNA on Immigration Policy

 

• No commitment to citizenship at birth

• Birthright citizenship is complex and controversial

• DNA to outline comprehensive platform for Immigration reform

• Upholding Constitution and national interest is DNA's priority

• No more political games or kicking can down the road

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) notes comments attributed to our former leader, Mr. Branville McCartney reported in the Tribune Newspaper (14th June 2019). As a former politician and private citizen, Mr. McCartney is entitled to his personal opinions and lends his voice to national issues from time to time. Additionally, as a former Cabinet Minister with responsibility for Immigration, Mr. McCartney also has some insights on this subject matter. 

While it is apparent that views espoused by Mr. McCartney do not constitute the official position of the DNA, we wish to provide further clarity in this regard. The DNA’s Vision 2017 and Beyond did not commit to the policy of citizenship at birth. The issue of citizenship by birth is complex and controversial with serious implications for the citizenry. It is not surprising therefore that only approximately 30 countries around the world have such a policy in place and some have reversed their national policies in this regard. It is common practice for nations that grant citizenship by birth to have established criteria for qualification as is currently the case in The Bahamas, rather than grant the same automatically at birth.

The DNA will comprehensively outline its platform and position on Immigration for consultation with the Bahamian people. The DNA will not kick this proverbial can down the road like the Free National Movement and Progressive Liberal Party have done for decades. We will not play political games with an issue that is so important to our nation for political expediency. Our position paper will articulate our immigration policy in a holistic manner.

We believe in the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of Bahamians under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. We believe that there should be equity under the law and that all Bahamians, male or female, married or unmarried should have the unequivocal right to pass on citizenship to their children. This matter will be a priority among other things in our position paper.

Further, the long-standing issues surrounding illegal migration, shanty towns, issuance of work permits, interpretation of Article 7, residency and citizenship which have been inadequately addressed by successive administrations would also feature prominently in the said position paper. 

It is the intention of the DNA to have open and frank discussions with the Bahamian people with a view to implementing our policies upon assuming office as the next Government of The Bahamas.

 

Buscheme Armbrister

Deputy Leader, Democratic National Alliance

 

Congratulations Graduating Class Of 2019

Dear Graduates Of 2019,

Extending Congratulations to each and every one of you on completing another milestone in your life. I understand the many obstacles you overcame these past years to be here today. I share your pride in the accomplishments of our graduating students and your joy at the prospects that lie ahead.

After going through the process of learning, studying for tests and persevering in reaching this stage in your lives, congratulate yourselves, graduates for reaching this goal. And I congratulate you as well.But as you may know by now, this is truly a journey and not just a destination. The path to success that you’ve started to build does not end here but rather, moves to a different dimension.

Let’s stay focus for the road ahead won’t be easy. We will stumble along the way, but our failures or mistakes are meant for us to learn from and become better. And as you build your path, keep believing in yourselves for you are capable in turning any dream of success in your life into a reality.

Once again Congratulations Class Of 2019.

Laron G Moxey

Young Democrats Alliance

President

Budget 2019/20 – Much Ado About Nothing

  • Budget communication falls flat

  • Government has credibility deficit

  • No relief in sight for hurting masses

  • Focus on figures at the expense of Bahamians

  • Duty reductions will have minimal impact after VAT


The Minister of Finance delivered his third Budget Communication in the House of Assembly yesterday to a nation in desperate need of hope and some positive news. Once again, the Free National Movement (FNM) administration showed its lack of compassion and disconnection from the plight of the masses. The delivery of the communication was both uninspiring and underwhelming, while the extended rendition of shallow pronouncements was painful to watch.


In a communication that fell flat for most Bahamians, the government’s idea of positive news was the continuous reminder that the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate will not be increased again. In the aftermath of a 60% increase in the VAT rate in the previous year, this heartless administration expected nationwide jubilation for choosing not to worsen the financial condition of the Bahamian people.


Bahamians can now confirm that the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) was right in its assessment of the 2018/2019 budget of hardship when we stated that the government would fall short of its revenue projections and the economy would be negatively impacted. The admission by the Minister that the government fell short of its revenue target by hundreds of millions of dollars is testament to the accuracy of our prognosis a year ago.


The government is projecting that the GFS deficit for 2018/2019 will come in at $229 million dollars despite the revenue shortage as a result of spending cuts. We note that this administration was forced to admit that the Minister of Finance’s deficit forecast for the 2017/2018 fiscal year was higher by $105 million dollars. Hence, the government has a credibility deficit when it comes to projections on both revenue and expenditure.


We witnessed another episode of self-aggrandization and pats on the back by politicians who have forgotten that they are not doing taxpayers any favors but rather spending our hard-earned dollars on projects they select. The reduction in customs duties to the tune of $28 million in the face of the massive increase in taxes to the tune of $500 million last year is a slap in the face of struggling Bahamians. A closer look at the reduced tariffs and the affected items for the 2019/20 budget will show that they will have minimal impact on the finances of majority of Bahamians.


It was noted that the deficit is at its lowest in 10 years and the Minister demanded some commendation for this achievement. What he failed to mention is that 10 years ago, the government’s revenue was half (about $1.3 billion less) of what it is today, and total expenditure was $1 billion less than it is in 2019. Hence, within a decade, successive administrations have significantly increased taxes on the backs of the Bahamian people to fund their insatiable appetite for spending and wastage.


The current administration is out to lunch and oblivious to the dilemma of Bahamians challenged to make ends meet daily. They believe that eliminated tariffs on pencils, crayons and sharpeners is worthy of praise while being convinced that several Bahamians have the disposable income to embark on the purchase of new furniture and appliances. This follows a recent international report that notes that The Bahamas is the fourth most expensive nation in the world to live in. While taxes and fees have continued to rise, so have unemployment figures while the income of average Bahamians have remained the same or lowered.


The budget communication perpetuates the practice of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) which places the burden of taxation on the poor and the middle class. The pontification on tax fairness is disingenuous when taxes are not based on individuals’ earnings and ability to pay. The current system of governance for special interest groups will not change until there is campaign finance reform in The Bahamas. Until then, he who pays the piper will continue to call the tune and the decimation of the Bahamian middle class will not cease.


The highlight of the show that was the budget communication was the suggestion that the FNM is committed to meritocracy. This follows several conflicts of interest, failure to provide details on spending, appointment of FNM cronies to high-paying jobs, award of contracts to supporters without a transparent bidding process and political interference in government agencies among others.


The DNA will be taking a deeper dive into the numbers within the actual budget in the days ahead and provide the Bahamian people with the key themes from a budget that is anything other than the people’s budget.


Arinthia S. Komolafe

Leader

Democratic National Alliance


Regressive fiscal policy hurting The Bahamas

  • Government’s efforts not tied to long term vision

  • FNM and PLP place tax burden on poor and middle class

  • Blacklists will not stop; goalposts will continue to shift

  • Complacency is bane of current administration

  • IMF and TJN initiatives show delay of the inevitable


A recent report issued by the Tax Justice Network (TJN) placed The Bahamas on another tax haven list. The Corporate Tax Haven Index (CTHI) ranked our nation as number nine on an adverse list among ten jurisdictions with corrosive corporate tax policies.


This blacklist follows the passage of myriad legislation and implementation of regulatory changes by the government to ensure compliance with international standards. We have expended much time and resources on being removed from lists produced by international agencies while increasing the cost of doing business and concurrently reducing our competitiveness.


The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has repeatedly advised the current administration to adopt a more holistic approach and redefine the value proposition of The Bahamas as an International Financial Centre (IFC). It is regrettable that our recommendations have fallen on deaf ears by an administration that lacks or has failed to articulate a long-term vision for our country.


We call on the government once again to wake up from its self-induced slumber and substitute its rose-tinted glasses of naivety with clear lenses of the new global reality. The goalposts will continue to be moved and the prospect of a real level playing field is wishful thinking. The Bahamas must chart a new course which sheds the tax haven label and reposition itself as an IFC without the baggage associated with perceived inadequate tax practices.


The Free National Movement (FNM) and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have perpetuated a regressive and oppressive tax system on the backs of the working and middle class while taxing businesses on turnover rather than profits. The DNA submits that comprehensive tax reform which prioritizes the creation of a progressive and more equitable system of taxation is long overdue.


There is a direct correlation between the challenges we face as an IFC and the regressive tax system that both political parties have maintained for the benefit of special interest groups. The Bahamas is being held back by the complacency and lack of fortitude by a government that governs for a select few.


We remind the government that momentum is gathering around global corporate tax reform and they are only delaying the inevitable. They were elected to lead with vision, and it is their duty to put the interest of the nation ahead of that of a select few.


The proverbial clock is ticking and the future of our financial services industry hangs in the balance.


Arinthia S. Komolafe

Leader

Democratic National Alliance

BPL Saga Continues to Cost Taxpayers

  • Taxpayers continue to foot BPL saga costs

  • Dark cloud over BPL thickens

  • Our taxes are funding these missteps

  • Public still awaiting reports on forensics, legal and travel

 

Following the unceremonious termination of the previous Board of Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) amid allegations of political interference and unethical behavior, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) called for a swift and independent investigation into these matters in August 2018. Nine months later, it remains unclear if and when the probe promised by the Prime Minister will be completed and a report issued to the Bahamian people.

The DNA notes the recent confirmation by the Attorney General (AG) that the government has retained a local firm of private lawyers to defend the $1.1 million lawsuit against the Minister of Public Works filed by former directors of BPL. This follows the signing of a contract with an international firm to probe the serious allegations against the Minister responsible for BPL.  

We note that our system of government provides public officials and offices with protections as corporate soles or legal entities. However, it is simply unacceptable for hardworking Bahamians and residents to be called upon time after time to bear the costs for the actions of Cabinet Ministers who may have erred in the discharge of their duties and/or exercised poor judgment in the performance of their functions.

Taxpayers will once again have to foot the bill for the legal fees incurred for this BPL lawsuit in addition to the fees to be paid to the international investigation firm engaged by the government. It is an understatement to say that the dark cloud of cronyism, nepotism, contradictions and mismanagement continues to thicken over BPL.

We are concerned that having significantly increased taxes and fees on the backs of the Bahamian people, the government continues to waste our hard-earned money without any form of transparency or accountability. The provision of statistics and charts by the Ministry of Finance will not substitute for the specific questions and proper accounting for how this administration is spending the people’s money.

The public is still awaiting the total cost of the forensic audits or reports commissioned by the current administration when they assumed office and the promised report on travel expenses due by December 2018 remains outstanding. The total legal fees paid to English counsel engaged by the government in the Frank Smith trial also remains shrouded in secrecy.

The mismanagement of BPL continues under an administration that governs on an ad-hoc basis. The Bahamian people will recall that BPL has invested $95 million of our taxpayers’ funds to generate 132 of the 220 megawatts required of Shell without a commitment or undertaking by Shell that we will be reimbursed or given an equity stake in the new power plant. It therefore remains unclear how our investment will be recouped from Shell.

The Bahamian people deserve better and the DNA remains the only vehicle for the delivery of good governance to the Bahamian people.

Arinthia S. Komolafe

Leader

Democratic National Alliance