Grandstanding Hypocrites - Commercial Enterprises Bill (CEB)

The Minnis administration’s poorly constructed and unfocused Commercial Enterprises Bill has, in the past two weeks, sparked national outrage and rightly so. The legislation is a complete departure from this government’s promise to facilitate the empowerment of Bahamian entrepreneurs and instead promotes the interests of wealthy foreigners. International economic models have proven time and again that the theory of trickle-down economics being pushed by this administration simply does not work. The idea that this sham of a legislation will somehow expand the middle class or create opportunities for Bahamians will undoubtedly fail, leaving our already fragile economy in a more precarious state. The legislation in its current form is so problematic that even the former PM and Leader of the FNM Hubert Ingraham felt compelled to warn the government to rethink their plans.

Rather than the same old outdated, and FDI-reliant policies, The Bahamas must implement country first, SME focused economic model which strengthens Small and Medium Size Bahamian Enterprises. This is the kind of policy that has proven to be the growth engine of every strong economy. The DNA has long advocated policies which provide incentives for such entities including a significant reduction in the cost of capital, and an overhaul of the currently regressive business license structure to a flat rate structure which allows business to keep more of the money they earn. Coupled with plans to drive down the cost of energy and improve the ease of doing business such policies would quickly usher in an era of economic prosperity for all Bahamians.

In the face of well-placed criticism of the Commercial Enterprise legislation, Finance Minister Peter Turnquest and others in the Minnis administration have doubled down, insisting on pursuing the same visionless course of action which has stagnated economic growth in this country for years. Equally disappointing, has been the reaction of the official opposition who, after failing in five years to stimulate any real economic growth, is now filled with righteous indignation and are threatening to repeal the bill if returned to office. In the face of the PLP’s dismal record on the economy however the PLP leader’s threats ring hollow and are eerily reminiscent of similarly empty threats about Baha Mar made by the PM while in opposition.

Bahamians no doubt found it curious to hear the Finance Minister condemn the assertion of a repeal as unfortunate, dangerous and harmful to investor confidence when the leader of his own party just months ago threatened to execute a quote, unquote real sale of the largest investment in the country. Where was Mr. Turnquest’s rebuke of those statements then, where was his outrage? The DNA admonishes both the Government and Opposition to abandon this exercise in political grandstanding and work together, putting country and Bahamians first, to find real dynamic solutions to pull the country out of the economic doldrums.

Christopher Mortimer
DNA Interim Leader