23 JUNE 2016


A pleasant good evening to all present tonight.

With the passage of the 2016/2017 budget in the Lower House, it is safe to say that we are officially in silly season. You need only listen to and read the nonsensical drivel about from wannabe leaders on any number of serious national issues to remind you that many are called but only a few are chosen.

Take for instance the drivel from the mouth of Dr. Andre Rollins under the protective privilege of the House. He and other leaders of the FNM took their cue from talk radio and social media and are accusing the PLP government of being in some secret negotiations with some unknown and invisible Chinese buyer and are selling Bahamian citizenships in exchange for the investment. The FNM still cannot identify the Chinese investor or who demanded the sale of the Bahamians citizenships. Never minding the facts on the matter – that the negotiations are between the China EXIM Bank, China Construction and interested investors and not the Bahamas government – the FNM never lets the facts get in the way of an evil and slimy FNM lie. Never mind that the bidders for Baha Mar have been short-listed to two candidates so there is no official buyer. Never mind that the entire process is under the supervision of the Bahamas Supreme Court and their appointed provisional liquidators and not the cabinet and all decisions must be approved by that court before being executed. That obvious fact will only get in the way of the FNM’s tissues of lies.

We now have the DNA candidate for Garden Hills weighing in, effectively blaming politicians and the Chinese financier and contractor for a failed private business venture. In his warped view, the developer had no hand in the stalled project and bankruptcy filings. It was everybody else’s fault but the developer.

Ladies and gentlemen, because Sarkis Izmirlian decided not to participate in the bidding process, his chapter in the life of Baha Mar has come to an end.

On a final note on this matter, it is good to see that FNM leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and his leadership challenger Loretta Butler-Turner have finally come to their senses and admitted that the foolish assertion made by Andre Rollins in Parliament about the STOP, REVIEW AND CANCELLING of the Baha Mar project if the eventual buyer is Chinese does not represent the party’s official policy on Baha Mar. It took a bit of pressing but rational thought prevailed in the end.

On Monday of this week, the National Review opined that there was no difference Prime Minister’s Perry Christie’s opposition to the sale of BTC and Andre Rollins opposition to the sale of Baha Mar to an invisible, make believe, nameless and faceless Chinese investor.

The facts on that matter are these: The PLP never opposed the sale of BTC to CWC simply because it was a British company as the FNM is currently doing; that is racism. Another major difference is that Baha Mar is a private entity. BTC was a public corporation, the most profitable patrimony of the Bahamian people for many years and both the FNM and PLP agreed that they will never sell the majority shares in BTC to a foreign entity. As a matter of fact, the FNM government went further when then Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham said that he will never sell BTC to CWC. Well so much for a matter of trust – the FNM unceremoniously and secretly reneged on all of those promises to the Bahamian people and sold 51% of the shares to a foreign entity, Cable and Wireless in a fire sale. The PLP opposed this on the policy principle that the majority of the shares should remain under the ownership control of the Bahamian people. We never wavered from that position.

Turning my attention to Bahamas Power and Light, in the face of the many attempts to vilify the Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) and its new management team, I again endorse the policy decision of the Christie to identify a strategic partner to modernize via a five year management contract and business plan involving renewable energy and self-generation. Their mandate is to reduce the cost of electricity by 30% in 24 months. They are in the process of raising capital to up upgrade the power generation plants and address the legacy debt, a sizable percentage of which remains a contingent liability to the government’s balance sheet.

It is not only unfair but outright dishonest to pronounce the BPL project a failure because of rolling blackouts when the new management has not been given a chance to execute their business plan; the ink is barely dry on the management agreement. In the interim, BPL has committed to securing 80 megawatts of temporary power to augment the existing capacity.

I am heartened to hear that the government of The Bahamas is in negotiations with BPL to forgive the debt of thousands of customs, mostly elderly and indigent Bahamians. This will restore dignity to and improve their quality of life. I congratulate the government for their compassionate liberalism.

Garden Hills, I point to the successful Nassau Airport Development (NAD) Company model at the Lynden Pindling International Airport. This $400 million gateway to The Bahamas is not only self-funding, but is servicing its debt without government subvention and has won international awards for the high quality of service and customer experience it consistently delivers. BPL is modeled after that PLP inspired model and I am very confident that BPL will be just as successful as NAD.

Last but not least, I wish to say a few words about your honourable Member of Parliament. Dr. Kendal Major makes no secret of the indelible impact Sir Lynden had on his life and he has decided to give back through public service and in the process, touch the lives of young people in a positive way. He is a man of God and a man of great integrity and fairness and he jealously guards his good name and reputation at all times. He is sometimes criticized for being too fair in executing his constitutional duty as Speaker of the House of Assembly but he is ever mindful that his job is to protect the privilege and freedom of the minority members. He has demonstrated extraordinary discipline in separating politics from this constitutional mandate.

Dr. Major brings this same level of honesty and trustworthiness to his constitutional duties of Member of Parliament. You can trust Dr. Kendal Major. He is a good member of our team and has done much to strengthen our democracy. I ask that you continue to support his efforts in public service because as a new generation leader, his work is far from done. Give of your time, talents and energy to ensure that the people of the great Garden Hills return Dr. to Parliament. The PLP has brought this country too far in such a short period of time to turn it back over to the FNM who drove the country to financial ruin and on the fiscal cliff with no fiscal head room and huge amounts of financial commitments that the incoming PLP was mandated to honour. It would be a travesty if all of this good work goes to waste because we choose not to become engaged with the electorate.

I will leave it there for now but before I take my seat, I will be happy to answer any question you may have.

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