BPL

DNA Chairman: We are in a national crisis!

  • PLP and FNM have failed on energy

  • Vulnerable Bahamians suffering under load shedding

  • Blame game is not the solution

  • Private sector should assess economic impact

  • DNA is only Party with a plan

Bahamians are in a state of hopelessness, frustration and annoyance by the recent blackouts that have become a part of everyday life in our country. The load shedding exercise being carried out by BPL is evidence that successive Free National Movement (FNM) and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administrations including the current Minnis-led administration lack a viable plan for reliable and sustainable energy. Meanwhile, while the people sweat, PM Minnis and his entourage are in comfortable and air conditioned accommodation at a resort in St. Lucia.


Unfortunately, the real economic impact of this crisis cannot be quantified and it is yet to be made known to the Bahamian people. The current load shedding exercise could not have come at a worse time when children are home for the summer break, home patients need reliable electricity, the elderly are in discomfort and persons with special needs are at risk and babies lack comfort. Additionally, struggling Bahamians are losing appliances daily and thanks to nature, we are experiencing heat and humid levels like no time in recent history. 


The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is also concerned about the overall impact of unreliable power supply and telecommunication services on the Bahamian economy; particularly, as it relates to small businesses during these tough economic times. Many businesses have had to close early, shutdown or not open at all due to their inability to access electricity. Considering the fact that most Bahamian businesses or homes do not have generators or solar power, this is foreseeable. In cases where few businesses have backup generators, the cost of maintenance and purchasing fuel has significantly increased business costs. 


The DNA calls upon the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), Carmichael, Coconut Grove and other Business Leagues to survey their members in order to gain intelligence on the net effect of these blackouts including the impact on turnover, profit, business volumes and customer patronage.


It is unacceptable that The Bahamas is experiencing this assault on its people in the 21st Century and we in the DNA submit that this is a national crisis. Added to the BPL saga, we have also been experiencing problems with BTC phone lines making it difficult for Bahamians to communicate, while lack of access on numerous occasions to emergency numbers like 911 and 919 pose a security risk and could literally mean the difference between life and death. We could and should do better in our Bahamaland. 


We need visionary leaders that will utilize the natural resources of our country and move toward alternative energy. What we do not need are PLP and FNM Members of Parliament arguing over who made the Bahamian people sweat the most as they have been doing. Our persistence and reliance on fossil fuels is having a costly impact on doing business in The Bahamas, our nation's ability to gain a competitive edge over our regional and global counterparts and equally important, the right of Bahamians to enjoy their homes in peace without sweat or fear of break in from delinquents.


A DNA led government would have been full speed into our comprehensive energy plan for solarisation, waste to energy, the use of liquefied natural gas and other forms of alternative energy to reduce the cost and reliability of electricity at the two year mark. This would have improved our position on the ease of doing business index and positioned our country to be a global leader in reducing carbon emissions and promoting a sustainable environment. Instead, we are stuck with visionless leadership who are prepared to pander to and reward special interests groups who donated to their campaigns while maintaining the status quo of monopolistic power.


We appreciate the hardworking team of technicians and professionals who through no fault of their own are working hard to bring relief to the Bahamian people; however, we in the DNA submit that true relief will come when we rid ourselves of visionless and lackluster leadership from both the PLP and FNM.


Omar B. Smith

National Chairman

Democratic National Alliance


Where there is no vision, the people sweat!

  • BPL’s failures have become predictable

  • Working class feels the brunt of electrical challenges

  • Bahamians not getting good value for money 

  • DNA to put forward new position paper on energy


The rash of power outages spreading across The Bahamas is highly unacceptable. The excuses that have been proffered are nothing more than a continuation of excuses that have marked the incompetence that has been going on at BPL/BEC for decades. The question is, will anyone be held accountable for this fiasco? Will anyone be held accountable to The Bahamian people? 


This perennial debacle is a reflection of inept government policies and decisions that are made based on political expediency and relationships with special interests who benefit from these government policies. The Bahamian people are sick and tired and have had enough of the suffering that has been inflicted upon them by successive PLP and FNM administrations. Every year, millions of dollars are paid by the Bahamian people in the form of taxes and fees for inconsistent essential services. Special interests have continued to get wealthier off the backs of poor and working class Bahamians who could ill afford these outrageously high electricity costs, much less the standby generators that the wealthy use to avoid the inconveniences at BPL.


The declining level of service rendered to the Bahamian people is not only cruel, but symptomatic of the way in which BPL and BEC has been managed. The shady deals and corrupt practices that have been common place has dictated the level of service that The Bahamian people have been receiving. The Democratic National Alliance DEMANDS that the government open all of the operations of BPL to the daylight of public scrutiny, so that all of us can see the details of the agreements that were supposedly made on behalf of the Bahamian people. We challenge the government of the Bahamas to prove that best practices were followed in the procurement of these new generators, the service contracts and the fuel purchasing contracts. What are the rates being paid for these rental generators and to whom are we paying?


As part of our good governance pledge in our platform, The DNA assures The Bahamian people that the suffering, exploitation and fleecing of The Bahamian people will come to an end when we are in office. In our forthcoming position paper on energy, The Bahamian people will see our bold vision that includes, among other things, renewable resources and alternative forms of energy generation. There will be brighter days under the DNA!


Omar Smith

Chairman

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

The DNA Demands Transparency

It appears as if the Free National Movement government has embarked upon a policy of score settling, political victimization and alienation of competent Bahamian professionals.

The whole exercise of summarily dismissing eight senior police officers, virtually all at the same time reeks of victimization.  Every time the government changes in The Bahamas, successive administrations play favorites with the public service, promoting their cronies and firing perceived enemies. The police force and the country at large is fed up with this disgraceful behavior. If there were legitimate reasons why these officers should have been dismissed in this manner, the Bahamian People deserve an explanation. It has been almost two years since this administration has taken office so if this was normal attrition it would have already commenced long before now, and been a more gradual process. Done in this manner makes it difficult to believe the Government’s explanation of excessive accumulated vacation days and not some other reason. The public needs to know.

What makes the government look even worse is the loss of Bahamian talent across  the board.

This administration must explain the reason why the talented, competent and celebrated Bahamas Power and Light Chief Operating Officer, Christine Alston abruptly left  the corporation particularly after they embarked on a campaign to bring qualified Bahamians home to build the country? What is the reason this government cannot keep proven competent professionals in their employ?

At this very moment the Minister of Works, the Hon. Desmond Bannister is embroiled in a law suit regarding his treatment of former BPL board Chairperson Mrs. Darnell Osborne.

What has happened to the FNM's promise of transparency?

The DNA demands that the government:

  1. Give the reason why so many of the top brass of the Royal Bahamas Police Force were made to leave in the manner in which they were?

  2. What is the reason for the abrupt departure of Ms. Alston from BPL?

  3. What is the status of the probe that the Prime Minister promised into the issues related to the Minister of Works Desmond Bannister and the former BPL board?

It seems more so than ever that an investigation needs to be done at BPL.

The FNM promised transparency, but so far all the people have received are cover-ups.

“It’s the people’s time” for answers!

Omar B. Smith, National Chairman

Democratic National Alliance


The Culture of Corruption at BPL

Wednesday’s headlines surrounding the management and issuance of contracts at Bahamas Power & Light are just the latest in a string of revelations which have come out of BPL this year; and while we continue to be appalled by the obvious mismanagement and abuse of processes at the company, The Democratic National Alliance is not surprised. Multiple audits of the goings on at BPL have uncovered a culture of theft and corruption which has persisted across multiple administrations. Sadly, those allegedly responsible continue to avoid justice leaving the Bahamian people holding the bag.

While politicians, their friends, family members, and cronies have allegedly lined their pockets with millions made from backroom deals and lucrative contracts, WE THE PEOPLE have been left to bear the burden of a broken system and exorbitant bills. Under the oversight of successive administrations BPL has devolved into nothing more than a breeding ground for unsavory characters who have robbed the company blind and all but crippled our electricity grid.

The DNA again calls on the government to table its promised compendium of anti-corruption laws. Coupled with a whistleblower’s act and fully enacted Freedom of Information legislation, BPL and the country as a whole can finally move away from the CULTURE OF CORRUPTION which has kept us stagnant for decades.

Christopher Mortimer
DNA Interim Leader