APRIL 26th, 2002

I have some shocking information to share with you tonight :

The Treasury is broke!

The Governmentís overdraft with the Royal Bank of Canada has shot up like a rocket.  It has gone through the roof!  It has burst through the ceiling!  Not in a million years could you ever guess how high it is now.  The figure will stagger you.  It will leave you reeling.  It will take your breath away.

But before I tell you how high it is now, let me tell you this :  Under the PLP, the highest it ever got was around 40 million dollars but on average it was in the 30 million dollar range in times of recession. So just keep those figures in your head when I tell you what the overdraft is now, under the FNM, just 10 years later.

You want to know what it is?   Well, right this minute itís the highest itís ever been in the entire history of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.   But you want to know exactly how high?  Iíll tell you :

The FNM Government has now run the overdraft up to just under 100 MILLION DOLLARS!

Can you believe it?  100 million dollars!  Thatís what they owe the Royal Bank of Canada right now on the Governmentís current account.

I challenge Hubert Ingraham to deny it!  I challenge Tommy Turnquest to deny it!  I challenge Sir William Allen to deny it!  I challenge them all to come clean with the Bahamian people.  I challenge them to Ďfess up and tell the Bahamian people exactly how high they have run up the Governmentís overdraft just days before the Election.

Now understand what this means.

What it means is that the FNM Government has spent 100 million dollars more than it has taken in.

What it means is that when you compare all the money the Government has put into its account with all the money the Government has taken out, the Government comes up 100 million dollars short.

What it means is that the Government doesnít have any money.  They are flat broke.  What they have been spending is the Royal Bankís money; money that you and your children will have to pay back Ė with huge interest piled up on top of that 100 million dollars - for years and years to come.

What it also means is that the FNM Government has looted the Treasury. They have pillaged and plundered the public purse.  They have busted the bank and left the country broke.

And these the same people all around here talkin Ďbout how well they managed the economy?  Give me a break!  and it Ďaint got nuthiní to do with no hurricane or September 11th either!  Donít let them swing you with that one!  Itís a lie!  The real reason we are in this mess is because we have a Government that just keeps spending and spending like a bunch of drunken sailors.  We are in this mess because the FNM are incompetent.  Worse than incompetent, they are reckless.  Worse than reckless, they are stupid.  Worse than stupid, they have been playing crazy with the peopleís money.  They have spent it all and now they are on their knees to the Royal Bank of Canada like a sorry lot of beggars.

But hold on because it gets a whole lot worse.

Listen to this now: when the PLP left office 10 years ago, the national debt was just a little over $1 billion dollars.  But that was after being in office for 25 years and after creating a whole new nation.  But would you like to know what the national debt is now after only 10 years of FNM Rule?  Well, Iíll tell you what it is.   But hold on to the person standing next to you because this is going to knock you over:

The national debt now stands at $2.2 BILLION DOLLARS!  Thatís a 2, followed by another 2, followed by 8 zeros.  2.2 billion dollars : thatís what the national debt has jumped to under the FNM.  That is a colossal number and long after we are all dead and buried our children and grandchildren will still be paying it off.

But hold on, it gets even worse.

The budget deficit by the end of June this year is projected to be somewhere between $180 million and 200 million dollars!  That will make it the biggest deficit in the entire history of The Bahamas.

And I hope you know what that means.  If you put the FNM back in power, they will tax you to death to wipe away the deficit.

So, letís put it all together now :

The FNM Government has spent every copper in the Treasury and then on top of that they have now run up an overdraft of $100 million dollars.  And then on top of that, they have run the national debt up to $2.2 billion dollars.  And then on top of that the budget deficit for this year will be close to $200 million dollars.

Boy, now I know why the Minister of Finance Ďain runniní no more!  Not him!  You donít see him on no FNM podium!   Already packed up his bags and slipped out the back door!  Election not even here yet and Sir Bill Ďdun gone!

But I want you to appreciate how gravely serious this situation is because no matter how you slice it, it is disgraceful, it is scandalous, it is downright sinful how the FNM Government has bankrupted the Treasury and left the country broke.

But you know itís for you to decide.  So you be the jury.  I ask you then :

· To the charge of looting the public purse, how do you find the FNM Government?  Guilty or Not Guilty?

· To the charge of gross incompetence in handling the nationís finances, how say you? Is the FNM Government Guilty or Not Guilty?

· To the charge of leaving the Public Treasury busted and broke, what is your verdict on the FNM?  Guilty or Not Guilty?

· To the charge of telling big, fat lies to the Bahamian people every day about how well they have managed the economy, how say you, is the FNM Guilty or Not Guilty?

I hope you hear that Hubert Ingraham!
I hope you hear that Tommy T!
I hope you hear that, all you FNM Ministers!

The verdict is in!  You have all been found Guilty by a jury of your peers and next Thursday, the 2nd of May 2002, your sentence will be handed down in thunder.  That is when you will stand before the bar of democratic justice and hear your sentence.  And your sentence will be this : pack your bags and go! Go into the political wilderness for messing up our country.  Go in disgrace for looting the Treasury and cleaning us out!  Go in shame for your bungling incompetence!  Go in shame for telling lies to cover up your wickedness!  Go!  Go! Go!

But you know what makes this fiscal situation so much worse is that as broke as the Treasury is, the FNM Government just keeps right on spending money they do not have.

But I want to make sure you understand why theyíre doing it.

The FNM, you see, is desperate now.  They are panicking now.  They are sweating now.  They are trembling now.  They know they are losing big time.  They see the handwriting on the wall.

So what do they do?  They try to scrub that handwriting off the wall with money!

So they go on their hands and knees to the Royal Bank of Canada and they plead ďO, Chief, donít let us down now! Just give us one more week.  Just tide us over for a little while longer. Just let us run that overdraft up some moreĒ.

So now the FNM Government is plunging us even deeper into debt to try to buy votes.  Oh yes, thatís what this is all about!  Letís call a spade a spade!  Donít mind them talking about pay raises.  The only thing thatís about is trying to pay you off to vote their way!  Donít mind them talking about fixing all those roads and hiring people to clean all those graveyards and sidewalks!  That donít have Ďnuthin to do with no public works.  The only thing that got to do with is putting some money in your hand so that you could use your next hand to mark your X next to their name!  Donít mind that 2 million dollars in public money that FNM candidates have at their disposal.  That ainít got nuthiní to do with no ďconstituency improvementĒ at a time like this.  The only thing they tryiní to improve with that money is their chances of getting your vote!  Thatís all thatís about.

They donít care about people like you.  Youíre just a number to them. They ainít got no respect for you and they ainít got no time for you.  If they had any respect for you as voters and as citizens and as human beings, they wouldnít be trying to buy you out like cattle on a farm.

But remember what I said :  if someone can buy you out, just remember, he can sell you out too!

Isnít it something, though, the way this FNM Government operates.  They pick and choose which civil servants theyíre going to give increases to and forget about all the rest.  How can that be fair?  You do for some but not for others.  All those civil servants who got left out, work just as hard as those who got and they have the same bills to pay every month.  The cost of living has gone up for them too but when it comes time to share, they get shared out! They get nothing!  Now how can that be fair?

And look what they give to those who got!  They spread just 5 million dollars among thousands of Police and Defence Force officers and selected categories of civil servants.

First of all they didnít give all of what they said they were going to give.  But quite apart from that, the total amount they shared among these thousands of people is only $5 million dollars! How far can that go among so many people?

But look what the FNM Government did for themselves.  Look how they fixed themselves up. They put $2 million dollars at the disposal of 35 FNM candidates to help them win votes.   But when it comes to thousands of Police and Defence Force Officers and civil servants, the total package is only 5 million dollars for all those people.  They give them chump-change, measly little increases, but then they turn right around and give every FNM MP in the last House of Assembly authority over $50,000 so they can use it to try and win some votes.

But it shows you who they think comes first.  They put themselves first.  They look after their own and then throw you the crumbs.

Thatís why its time for this FNM Government to pack up and go!

Now I see from the FNMís new Manifesto that they have come out with a new code of ethics.  You will find it on Page 93, right at the back.

Now there are two paragraphs in this new code of ethics that I want to draw to your attention.

The first one is this Ė and I quote directly from the new FNM Manifesto :

ďMinisters must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interestsĒ.

And then the other part of their code of ethics I want to read to you is this :

And I quote :

ď Ministers should avoid accepting any gift or hospitality which might appear to compromise their judgement or place them under improper obligationĒ.

Now the FNM says they are running on their record and they have made integrity a campaign issue.  They talk a lot about it.  Fair enough.  The electorate has a right to know whether the men and women who are seeking high office have proven themselves to be men and women of honour, integrity and high ethical standards. But this applies not only to the PLP but to the FNM too.

So the question that I would to like to raise tonight is whether the FNM government have lived up to the standards of integrity they have set for themselves in their own Manifesto.

Well, have they?

Has Brent Symottte lived up to those standards? I seem to recall that not long ago he had to resign in disgrace because of a blatant conflict of interest between his public duties and his private interest.  But look what happened next : they raised him up and rewarded with the FNM nomination for Montague!

What about Frank Watson?  Has he lived up to those high-sounding standards set out in the FNMís Manifesto?   I seem to recall that just a couple of moths ago he, too, was found by the Public Accounts Committee to have fallen way short of the standards the FNM says it expects its ministers to follow.

What about Dion Foulkes?  I recall that he, too, fell way short of those same standards the FNM says it holds its ministers accountable to Ė so short, in fact, that the Prime Minister still has him under investigation; investigation for serious allegations of impropriety in relation to the award of contracts for the repair of schools Ė contracts that ended up being awarded to a man who didnít know the first thing about repairing anything because he wasnít a construction man to begin with.  To this day, with only 6 days before the election, we still have not heard what the Prime Ministerís findings are.  We can only conclude that his findings are so bad that he has decided to suppress them.

And yes, what about Tommy Turnquest who is all around here running his mouth about integrity.  What about his record?  Has he lived up to the standards of conduct set out in his own Manifesto?  Is he running on his record?   Well if he is heís in big trouble because the last I heard he, too, was still under investigation by his own Prime Minister for disgracing himself as a minister of the crown.

Remember what Tommy did?  He gave the air-conditioning contract for his own ministry - the Ministry of Tourism - to one of his supporters and then he turned around and sent this same man the bill for a $31,000 party that Tommy had at his Harrold Road Mansion?   And what made it even worse is that the Ministry of Works had advised him not to give this man any more contracts because of his lousy record.  But oh no, Tommy wasnít heariní that!  So he went right ahead and gave the man the contract and then sent him the bill for the $31,000 party.

These facts, I want you to know, are not in dispute.  They are all documented, step-by-step.  Itís all a matter of public record. And by the Prime Ministerís own public admission, the matter involving Tommy was so serious, it called for a full investigation.  But here again, 6 days before the Election, we still Ďaint see no report!

In any other country in the world Tommy Turnquest would have had to resign in disgrace a long time ago.  But no, not under the FNMís code of ethics.  Instead of punishing him, they rewarded him by making him their new Leader.  Imagine that!

And this the same man who talkiní about standards of integrity in government?  This the same man who is all around here calling people crooks?

All I can say is this man really got one bunch of nerve and not one ounce of shame.

So letís get to the bottom line on this integrity issue : Darrell Rolle and Phillip Bethell and Sir Clement Maynard ainít  runnin in this election but I know who is!   Tommy runnin!  And we know his track record on integrity so let him talk about that instead of goiní round defaming people who have retired from politics and are not bothering him or anyone else. What a mean, dirty, nasty thing to do!

But I want you to understand why they are running all those nasty ads alleging corruption under the PLP in the old days.  There is a tactical reason for those ads and it is this : they are designed to distract you; they are designed to throw you off; they are designed to turn your attention away from looking at THEIR record of corruption and conflict-of-interest.  Thatís what itís all about.  Trying to get you to look the other way.  Itís the old ďsleight-of-handĒ trick and itís the oldest trick in the book.

But donít let them swing you!  Put the spotlight where it belongs Ė on those who have held power for the last 10 years.  They are the ones who must run on their record.  And when you look at their record you will see how the FNM has been rocked by one corruption scandal after another; case after case of ministers disgracing themselves by using their positions for personal advantage.

But never mind.

Hope and Help are on the way.  By the way, theyíre even stealing my lines!  I heard Tommy T using my line Ė ďHope and Help are on the wayĒ on the radio the other day.  This man is a thief of words! They finished lootiní the Treasury and now they tiefiní my speeches!

Yes, Tommy, help and hope are on the way alright but it wonít be from you!  You all have had your time and now the time has come for you to go.

My brothers and sisters :

In just 6 short days, our nightmare as a people will be over and a new day of bright hope will dawn in our land.  The FNM will be gone from the seat of power and in their place, by Godís good grace, will be the peopleís party; your party and mine : the Progressive Liberal Party!

Now that the day of our victory is almost here and now that the great weight of the nation is preparing to rest upon our shoulders, let me close with a solemn promise that I make to you tonight from this hallowed ground that saw the birth of a new nation nearly thirty years ago.

· I promise you good government.
· I promise you honest government.
· I promise you competent government.
· I promise you compassionate government.
· I promise you a government of humility and not of arrogance;
· I promise you a government for all Bahamians, black and white, rich and poor, PLP and FNM, CDR and BDM.
· I promise you that I will dedicate my life in public office to being your servant and not your master.
· And, most important of all, I promise you that all my efforts as your Prime Minister will be directed to only one end :
to end human suffering where I find it;
to give hope where I see despair;
to bring compassion where I see cruelty;
to plant love in place of hate; and
to join hands and hearts with you as we walk together out of the darkness into the redeeming light of a new era of peace and prosperity for all Bahamians, united and free!