Mr. Speaker, I rise on what is being hailed by Bahamians from all walks of life, as a glorious time in Bahamian political history, to contribute to this debate on the 2002 Speech from the Throne.
Mr. Speaker, this is a glorious time in Bahamian political history for
two reasons. One being that the overwhelming wish of Bahamians has come
true with the advent of a new government on May 2, 2002. Mr. Speaker, a
fresh wind blew from one end of the Bahamas to the next. It was so strong
and furious that in New Providence it left one single FNM Candidate standing.
And secondly because of a fresh and dignified approach to governance, as exemplified by the Speech from the Throne, where putting people and values first is the key to prosperity and moving the Bahamas forward, placing the future of Bahamians on solid ground.
Mr. Speaker, it is in that regard and on behalf of my Bain & Grants Town Constituents that I wish to thank my government and the Governor-General for the 2002 Speech from the Throne.
Mr. Speaker, as a result of the landslide victory on May 2, 2002 for the government of which I am honored and humbled to serve, I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart the constituents of first Grants Town and now Bain & Grants Town. For without them I would not be sitting as a Member in this chamber today.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank my Party, the new PLP for embracing me as a candidate and as its National Chairman, at a time during our Party’s victory at the polls. For the sake of history, it is noteworthy to say that the PLP National Chairman during the PLP’s first victory in 1967 was the late Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield. This great Bahamian patriot was a cousin on my father’s side of the family.
Mr. Speaker, I also wish to thank the Hon. Prime Minister for the faith and confidence that he has reposed in me by appointing me to the challenging position as Minister of Public Works, Utilities and the controversial Bahamasair.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the public for overwhelmingly trusting their affairs in the hands of the new PLP Government. Likewise, I commend the new Minister of State for Finance, Senator James Smith, for his initial assessment on May 19th of the financial affairs in the Bahamas, as left behind by the previous Administration. He is also to be commended for his announcement of the new PLP Government’s initial plans for the future financial recovery and prospering of the economy.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of State for Finance, not only on my behalf, but also on the behalf of many Bahamians, for I received many calls by varied Bahamians on May 19th after the Minister addressed the nation. The calls were expressing how relieved they are that Minister Smith is the nation’s new State Minister for Finance.
Mr. Speaker, the overall results of the calls I received assessing the appointment of the Minister of State for Finance can best be summed up in the sentence of one caller. That caller said, “Finally we have a person representing our financial interests that can be trusted, finally we have a person that is believable.”
Mr. Speaker, like the appointment of the Minister of State for Finance,
the people can also be relieved, for the Speech from the Throne is also
something the people can put their trust in. Our desire to govern by consultation
and wise decision-making is also believable.
Trust and believability are two traits of new PLP governance that the public must become familiarized with, for ten years is a long time to have been without trust and believability in government.
PORTFOLIOS/ PERSONNEL/ FNM TACTICS
Mr. Speaker, at the pleasure of the Prime Minister and hopefully to the satisfaction of the Bahamian people, I have been appointed as a Cabinet Minister with the portfolios of Public Works, Utilities and the added responsibility of Bahamasair.
It is in my capacity as Minister over these portfolios, that I wish to take a brief moment to address the personnel of those portfolio’s to concretize with them and the public an understanding of the principle’s that will govern them.
Mr. Speaker, I do this to clarify what the new PLP Government expects
of government employees in my portfolios; what I as the Minister expect
from them; what government employees should expect of themselves and what
the Bahamian people requires of the government employees in the portfolios
It is important that the personnel of Public Works, Utilities and Bahamasair recognize that their services to the public are vital components in the continued development of the nation and the continued prosperity of Bahamians.
Mr. Speaker, it is important that the employees of the portfolios in
my Ministry as well as the public be reminded that in the last term of
the FNM Government, employees in government entities have been the subject
of and suffered from many negative remarks and assessments.
This sad state is attributed to the lack of focus by the previous Administration. As well as low morale amongst personnel as a result of policies by the previous Administration that did not include in its plans, benefits for employees from the fruits of their labor.
Likewise Mr. Speaker, the portfolios in my Ministry has been the subject of and suffered from many negative remarks and credibility issues arising out of the overwhelming number of corrupt acts, mismanagement, incompetence and a general free-for-all attitude originating from the top echelon of the FNM Government. This reality has caused many problems for Public Works, Utilities and Bahamasair. Over the last ten years, these credibility issues have become entrenched, legendary, big, small and unfortunately, endemic.
Mr. Speaker, the credibility issues affecting the portfolios in my ministry compels me, with the help of the policies outlined in the Speech from the Throne; to put a stop to the crisis of corrupt intentions and wrong motives. Those were behaviors and a mind-set cultivated, encouraged and left in place by the previous Administration.
Mr. Speaker, the previous Administration led by example in the execution of corrupt intentions and wrong motives. There has been a massive rip-off of the Public Purse with the full support of the now defunct FNM Maximum Leader, the Member for North Abaco. Many acts were committed all in the name of keeping maximum power.
SIR ARTHUR FOULKES
Mr. Speaker, I will be revealing these corrupt intentions and wrong motives in detail as we move along the legislative sessions of the new PLP Government. But as an example; look at how the FNM Government took care of one of their prize trophies, Sir Arthur Foulkes. As a non-resident Ambassador to Cuba and China, he was earning $50,000 annually as well as $46,000 annually for the post of Executive Chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation. He also was receiving a Parliamentary Pension. He was also awarded a free car and other benefits.
Mr. Speaker, he then was awarded a Queen’s Knighthood. And guess what,
Mr. Speaker? All of this was done for the FNM Dinosaur after he did a lengthy
and paying stint as the High Commissioner to the Court of St. James in
London, as well as being Ambassador to the European Union.
Mr. Speaker, this is an example of how the FNM took care of their own using scarce and limited public funds. Mr. Speaker, I will in due course disclose details of the excesses of the FNM patronage to its various supporters. I will give a few examples of non-performing so called Consultants at this point.
FORMER MP EDMUND MOXEY
Mr. Speaker let us look at a glaring example of patronage or simply a giveaway that is lacking in even a scintilla of credibility. An Entertainment Consultant Contract for Arawak Cay and the Straw Market was given to former MP Mr. Ed Moxey. He was paid $35, 000 per year. I regret I was unable to be satisfied that value was given for the payment made. I personally have nothing against Brother Ed Moxey, but I must call a spade a spade.
Mr. Speaker, yet another example is a Consultant Contract to Mr. Theo Farquaharson as a Building Inspector in Grand Bahama at a salary of $30,000 per annum. Mr. Speaker, Theo Farquaharson is a very affable individual regretfully however I was unable to be satisfied that value had been given for the payment made. These kinds of giveaways were designed to corrupt the moral beliefs of human beings. A belief that they should work for their pay.
Mr. Speaker, when the previous Administration wasn’t executing corrupt intentions, they were exercising an abuse of power through wrong motives by placing their feet on the necks of Bahamians to get them to do what they wanted.
For example, look at what self-confessed drug trafficker and FNM Poster Boy, Abner Pinder was reportedly doing in Spanish Wells during the recent elections. It was reported that Pinder used raw intimidation to whip Spanish Wells Residents in line to vote for the FNM.
Mr. Speaker, I have been advised that Pinder was going around to out-of-work fishermen who had credit at a local food establishment and intimidating them. And guess how I’ve been advised that he was intimidating them? I’ve been advised that Abner Pinder would remind the fishermen how much they owe at the food establishment.
And then he’d tell them that if they don’t vote FNM their accounts payable
would be called in. Some of these men owed $6 and 7,000 dollars in food
accounts because they were out of work, so what could they have done about
Pinder’s intimidation tactics? They simply complied with his demands. This
is the same Abner Pinder who said that there couldn’t be found a PLP poster
on Spanish Wells.
Mr. Speaker, Abner Pinder is a man who by all accounts and some strange miracle escaped the long-arm of the DEA and yet, he’s acting like he is the appointed voice for decent and law abiding Spanish Wells residents. Meanwhile, on the side and out of sight he’s brow beating them and digging under rocks to find out their personal business to force them to do what he wants for his FNM Party.
Mr. Speaker, I intend to find out how this same Abner Pinder was accommodated and facilitated in the sale of Gorda Cay to Disney Cruise Lines. As the former and defunct FNM leader failed to provide answers to my questions.
Mr. Speaker, if we need to find the answer as to why so many government agencies have credibility issues overshadowing government personnel, we need look no further than the previous Administration and their cronies. And none abused the power of Office with intentions to corrupt and wrong motives more than the now defunct FNM maximum leader himself.
HUBERT INGRAHAM & GRAND CAY, ABACO
Mr. Speaker, I am going to give this place a brief but concise example of the corrupt intentions and wrong motives of the Member for North Abaco. And I will link this example to a fair comment as to why he narrowly won the North Abaco seat during the recent General Elections.
Mr. Speaker, we know that the Member won the North Abaco seat by 396 votes, receiving 1713 votes and the new PLP Candidate, Fritz Bootle receiving 1317. We also know that 270 North Abaconians did not vote. We have to assume that they didn’t vote because they couldn’t vote for the Member, or may have been influenced into staying away from the polls.
My information is that the big money boys arrived on the scene a few days before the Election. We also know that the Member for North Abaco received 297 votes out of 325 in the Grand Cay polling division of North Abaco.
Mr. Speaker, you may recall that the Member for North Abaco made a special
trip to Grand Cay in the last days of the 2002 election campaign to virtually
plead for all 325 votes, but admitted that he would be grateful still if
he only received 300. His trip to Grand Cay was topped off by a unique
boat parade that included a number of go-fast boats.
Again, I remind you Mr. Speaker that the Member for North Abaco won by 396 votes, he got 297 votes out of Grand Cay and some 270 North Abaconians did not vote.
Mr. Speaker it is a fair argument that if the Member for North Abaco
didn’t receive the votes he did in Grand Cay; and we had put in place our
candidate sooner; Fritz Bootle would today be the new Member for North
But the question I will now address is how the Member for North Abaco managed to get 297 votes in Grand Cay? Likewise, why the Member for North Abaco patently uses corrupt intentions and wrong motives in his dealings with Bahamians?
Mr. Speaker, I visited Grand Cay, Abaco one week prior to the recent
General Elections. I was horrified and shocked to witness Bahamians being
held hostage by one Roosevelt Curry. Roosevelt Curry is the Member for
North Abaco’s chief henchmen, fishing buddy and in fact the main man in
Grand Cay. He is also the Chief Councilor.
Some call him the Emperor of Grand Cay and he lords over the people in like fashion. This Roosevelt Curry was awarded, on the recommendation of the then Prime Minister, a significant Queen’s honor in January of this year. Which in my view, is the equivalent of Adolf Hitler arranging an award for his chief henchmen, Dr. Josef Mengele; a mass victimizer of Jewish people.
Mr. Speaker, this beneficiary of the Queen’s honors, is said to have a deep and dark sinister past that is well known to many Abaconians. Yet Mr. Speaker, there was not a single objection to him being given the Award from one person in the FNM Party, including the Member who now occupies my seat in Opposition. Mr. Speaker, was it fear or was it shame that kept the FNM Party and Members in this place silent? I would suggest that they learn to fear God and not man.
Mr. Speaker, let me tell you and the Bahamian people what’s going on
in Grand Cay, Abaco, an area represented for twenty-five years by the Member
for North Abaco. Here is what I saw with my own eyes and discovered through
my own investigations:
1.Residents of Grand Cay are required by law to buy electrical power from BEC as a result of underground cables placed between Walker’s Cay and Grand Cay. But this doesn’t apply to the Emperor, Roosevelt Curry.
Thanks to his friend the Member for North Abaco, Curry still uses generators to provide electricity for his hotel, restaurant, food store, marina and virtually every other establishment in Grand Cay of which he is the owner.
He likewise is said to be the only fuel provider on Grand Cay. So he owns the marina and provides the fuel. The Emperor is the only individual One Stop Shop in the Bahamas.
2.Curry controls the purchase of crawfish, scale fish and conch and he sets the prices at the amount he is prepared to pay for the fishermen’s catch. Which reminds me that I forgot to tell the public that he also owns the Fish House. Fishing is the major source of employment for the people of Grand Cay.
3. I was advised by a former Member of the FNM Government that when the size of crawfish permitted to be caught was reduced from 6 inches to 51/2 inches, this was done at the direct behest of the former Prime Minister and FNM maximum leader.
4. As a result of this new arrangement, Roosevelt Curry was said to have played a major role in influencing the depletion of the nursery beds in the Abaco’s of the baby lobsters. It is also said that he fishes all year round for lobsters.
And I have been advised that on the many occasions that the Ministry of Agriculture requested that the Police apprehend Curry for illegal fishing, for some unknown reason the Police backed off.
5. Roosevelt Curry operates a regular freight vessel by the name of MV Island Boy that travels between Grand Cay and West Palm Beach, Florida.
6. Curry’s freight boat comes and goes from Grand Cay to West Palm Beach and it is said that he calls the Custom’s Officers over from Walker’s Cay to officially clear the boat when he feels like it. Some resident’s question whether he is paying the appropriate Customs duties, if any at all?
Which also causes me to inform this Parliament that I’ve heard some other things about the trips this freight boat makes and its contents. And I state now that when I confirm what I am hearing, I will pass the information on to the Minister of National Security to take appropriate action.
7. Likewise, if Curry doesn’t feel like taking or bringing the freight of some Grand Cay residents, he doesn’t do it. Or does it when convenient for him.
8. Because of Curry’s association with the FNM’s now defunct maximum leader, it is said that Curry has received the government’s contracts to do virtually all construction on the Cay. He built the Administrator’s building, the school building, provided concrete for the roads, built the school library and built the community center.
And before the FNM was resoundingly kicked out of Office, Curry was awarded the contract for a million plus dollar Government Clinic. I was advised that his original bid was the highest and he was allowed to adjust his Bid to be awarded the contract. Thinking people of Grand Cay wants to know why Curry always gets the monied government contracts on that Cay.
9. And if all of this isn’t corrupt enough, Curry has the Cable Bahamas television tower on his property and when he doesn’t want the residents to see something on the cable networks, like on the Parliamentary Channel 53, he shuts down the tower.
Mr. Speaker, I have given you this example to show the extent of the corrupt intentions and wrong motives of the former Administration under the direct commands of the FNM’s maximum leader. How can a people expect to get honest and efficient service from the ministries in a government if the politicians presiding over the ministries are corrupt in their intentions and deviously wrong in their motives?
Mr. Speaker, it’s no wonder the Member for North Abaco could have recently
gotten enough votes out of Grand Cay to win the seat. And it’s no wonder
that one of his last stops on the campaign trail was Grand Cay where he
practically begged for every single vote. The way the Member for North
Abaco has sanctioned Roosevelt Curry holding his Constituents hostage,
it’s truly amazing that he didn’t get all 325 votes.
I salute those thirty plus voters who had the power of their convictions to vote their conscious, as they knew what was going on with the Member for North Abaco and Roosevelt Curry. Mr. Speaker, the new PLP Government will change all of that. And I want the good residents of Grand Cay to know that your new PLP Government will change your circumstances of living under siege.
Mr. Speaker, in the last months and days of the FNM Administration, the Member for North Abaco was slowly but surely showing his true colors hidden behind the veil of nine years of what he considered to be his incorruptibility. And now Mr. Speaker, he is out in the open. And maybe that is why he was reluctant to face the tens of thousands of Bahamian who came to express their solidarity with the new government on May 22nd.
Mr. Speaker I have come to a slow deliberate conclusion that the Member of Parliament for North Abaco should be condemned by this Parliament for the perpetration of the evils thrust upon the unsuspecting people of Grand Cay. If he had any shame he’d get lost.
Mr. Speaker, the new PLP Government will free up the inability of the residents of Grand Cay to compete in the business-market, where healthy competition is the key. We will free up their inability to sell seafood products and to purchase goods at fair price standards. We will free up their inability to have their goods moved from place to place without discrimination. We will free up their inability to bid on government jobs in the fairest of circumstances.
We will free up even their inability to watch what they wish on cable television. And then in 2007 or before, the new PLP Government will free the Grand Cay Residents of the dastardly and demonic representation they have been given for the last 25 years. With a new PLP Government no longer will the residents of Grand Cay or any place be held hostage by anyone.
And that is the spirit in which I say to the employees of my Ministry’s portfolio they too will no longer be burdened with a distressing work environment. The new PLP is not about the governance of corrupt intentions and wrong motives.
NEW PLP GOVERNMENT AGENDA
Mr. Speaker, the new PLP Government has come to bring honesty, credibility, values, and advancement to the affairs of government. And just-rewards to those who make this country function on a daily basis; which is something that was adverse to the spirit, tenets and principles of the previous Administration.
The resistance of the FNM Government to exhibit positive intentions and positive motives to governance, in no small measure is the reason why they only have a semblance of representation in this Parliament today, with just a little over a hand full of Members.
Mr. Speaker, the sum total of the FNM Government’s demise is found in
the fact that they ignored the values of governance. They ignored the ethics
of governance. They ignored the responsibility of governance. And they
even ignored the laws of governance, while treating the personnel, who
causes a government to function, with the utmost of contempt.
Maybe now, in the wake of their own manufactured demise the previous Administration will value the concept of grace and mercy. For at least they were left with eleven remnants of representation with four Members in the other place and seven in this place. At least they’ve been shown more grace and mercy than they bestowed upon the Bahamian people.
Mr. Speaker, as I believe that you know even better than I do, the wisdom
and ways of God are glorious in their purposes. For it is His grace and
mercy that rescues us daily from our own wickedness. In fact, it is God’s
grace and mercy that is poured out in more abundance on those who need
And when I look upon the motley group that now makes up the defunct FNM Organization, I stand again in awe of God’s grace and mercy. I believe that God’s grace is different from His mercy.
Mr. Speaker, it is grace that allows those few Members left in both places of Parliament to still be around to redeem themselves and repent of the wicked ways they exhibited when they were in power. Likewise, when I look around and see who is not amongst the august body of Parliamentarians, it is mercy that banished them to the oblivion of private life to avoid them having to possibly face the law if they stayed in power one day longer than May 2nd.
Now Mr. Speaker, if it was my will at work, maybe even some of those
who was showed some grace by still being around, would have instead been
banished to confinement. But as always, it is God’s will that must be done.
God’s grace kept some in public life and His mercy sent some into oblivion.
And as I look around this place, I see that out of mercy it was determined that the former DPM should be gone from this place. Likewise, the former Minister of Education is gone. The former Minister of Tourism is gone. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs is gone. The former Minister of Transport is gone. The former Housing Minister and then backbencher is gone.
And just as the Bible saints, Enoch and Elijah, were whisked away from
earth, God also in his mercy whisked away the Church Business Administrator
and self-appointed saint, the former Member for Fort Charlotte. He too
is gone from this place.
The former Attorney-General is also gone. Maybe if he had done his job as I asked him to over and repeatedly; he would have experienced grace instead of mercy and would have still been in this place. And I do not know if it was mercy on him, or more on us, but gone too is the former Minister of Agriculture, the former Member for Long Island and Ragged Island.
And Mr. Speaker, oh Mr. Speaker, when I look up to the chair in which
you sit, I see that dignity, fairness, decency, incorruptibility and fidelity
has returned to the time honored position you hold. For in the ultimate
act of mercy, even the former Speaker, the former Member for Garden Hills
Mr. Speaker, don’t we serve an absolutely wonderful God? He has given this place unspeakable joy by placing you in that chair. His grace kept some in public life and His mercy sent some into oblivion.
Mr. Speaker, the former Members for Adelaide, Blue Hills, Pineridge, Holy Cross Yamacraw, Mt. Moriah, Marathon, Ft. Charlotte, Long Island, West End and Bimini and Garden Hills, all FNM big-wigs are gone. All because of God’s mercy poured out on them and on us for totally different reasons.
However Mr. Speaker, the Member for North Abaco is again being contemptuous
and flies in the face of grace and mercy. In my opinion he shouldn’t
be a Member of this place. But he is and still he didn’t show up for the
Who can believe that it was really for personal reasons that he could not attend the opening of the new Parliament, when it was him who picked the date? His contempt for the people of the Bahamas as well as his ingratitude continues on unabated.
Mr. Speaker, I have said all of that to say to the public and those employees in my portfolios that the former Administration has gotten its just due by being reduced to a rag-tag group in Opposition.
For much damage has been done to the credibility of governance by the former Administration, as well as to the work ethic of the employees in the portfolios of my Ministry. Therefore I implore the personnel of my ministry to strive along with my government and me to bring credibility, efficiency and a full work ethic back to these entities. We must ensure that government agencies receive value for all government expenditures. To do otherwise would be betraying the people’s trust
Mr. Speaker, my request for cooperation from employees in my ministry
is deserving to be honored for it is the corporate character of the new
PLP Government to work diligently at whatever assignment we are given.
As for me, as well as I am sure for my Cabinet Colleagues; I believe in a full days work. It will also be encouraging for the personnel in my portfolios to know that I am a team player who shows loyalty to those I work along with as pieces to a big puzzle designed to achieve positive goals.
Mr. Speaker, as I am sure it is with my Cabinet Colleagues, I also find
happiness in setting goals to be achieved in a responsible and timely fashion.
I also make sure that the means by which these goals are attained is justified
by the end result being in the best interest of the Bahamas.
And of course, I as well as my Cabinet Colleagues believes that government employees should be adequately compensated for the work being done in the building and in some cases rebuilding of a Bahamas that has been left in near ruins.
Mr. Speaker, with the help of my government’s policies, I will strive to leave the imprint of character, dignity, decency, honesty and goal-oriented creativity on the ministerial portfolios that I hold. This is my yardstick for stewardship; a measurement designed to benefit the nation’s development and the human development of the employees that will make it possible for this nation to function for the benefit of all.
Mr. Speaker, I will be firm but fair. I am and will be humble but honest.
I am and will be kind but not weak. As the new Minister of Public Works,
BEC, Water & Sewerage and Bahamasair, for the first time in almost
ten years the employees and the taxpayers can trust the Minister.
Trust will be the hallmark of the new PLP Government and I plan to do my part by inviting the employees of my portfolios to join in with their new government to do honest and great things together for the country.
However Mr. Speaker, I want to make it abundantly clear to all and sundry
who may even dream that a personal inducement can cause me to look favorably
on any contract, to perish the thought. I advise no one to even think of
such a thing or to attempt it, either directly or indirectly.
For it would result in devastating consequences for the perpetrator, as there are clear laws against attempting to bribe or offering an inducement to a Public Official.
Mr. Speaker never again should the growth of a nation be sacrificed
on the altar of political survival. Never again should the proper use of
public funds be sacrificed on the altar of corruption, personal gain and
in some cases, criminality.
Never again should the country suffer the shame of having a government claiming to bring sunshine, when in the end all the country received was a total eclipse of the sun. A sun eclipsed by dark deeds, shady plans and bold and brazen untruths from government officials. The new PLP as a government has come to bring an end to that.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE (PARTICULARS)
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for allowing me that bit of time to speak to the employees in my Ministry about the new PLP Government’s expectations of them, for it is truly a new day in the Bahamas. Bahamians by their own choice of ballots have survived the holocaust and unwarranted death sentence placed on them by the previous Administration.
And it is with the knowledge of what the public has done for their own survival, by leaving the FNM Party to bury their own dead, that the new PLP Government is motivated and focused on being the best government that the Bahamas has ever known. This focus and motivation is clearly stated in the Speech from the Throne.
Mr. Speaker, if I were a concerned or casual observer of the Speech from the Throne, the first thing that would occur to me is that the 2002 Throne Speech can be considered a blueprint for development. A blueprint mapping out the development of human lives, the development of the environment and the development of infrastructure.
Mr. Speaker, in my view the sum total and spirit of the recent Speech from the Throne speaks to the critical concept of development. Mr. Speaker it is in that light that I wish to say a few things about my portfolio of Public Works.
Mr. Speaker, my government is continuing in its efforts to enhance the regulations in the building construction industry. And to this end we will produce a new edition of the Bahamas Building Code before the end of this calendar year.
Mr. Speaker, another significant advance will be the closer regulation of the plumbing industry through the introduction of a Plumbing Permit on June 3, 2002. After this date all significant plumbing works will require the endorsement of a licensed plumber.
Mr. Speaker, my government is also nearing the completion of a Construction
manual, primarily for the use of Building Contractors in the Family Islands.
The practical application of the guidelines in this manual will ensure
that works performed by building contractors will comply with the Bahamas
My government is also presently reviewing the draft of a Bill to regulate Contractors. When enacted the Bill will require all persons wishing to participate in the construction industry to obtain a license.
Mr. Speaker, the Bill will also set in place disciplinary procedures against unscrupulous contractors who fail to complete their assigned work or who perform sub-standard work. Mr. Speaker, my government also has underway a comprehensive program to ensure unhindered access for the physically disabled to all public buildings.
Mr. Speaker, presently my government is in the process of effecting repairs to government buildings and schools affected by Hurricane Michelle. A priority list has been prepared for the construction of new schools in the Family Islands. It is intended that a new state-of-the-art High School will be constructed in the Bight, Cat Island.
Mr. Speaker, additionally, modern state-of-the-art Primary Schools will
be built at Cooper’s Town, Abaco, George Town, Exuma and Cockburn Town,
San Salvador. Further, a new Junior High School is earmarked for construction
in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
At present, new Gymnasiums are being built at the Edward St. George’s School, the Sir Jack Hayward and the Eight Mile Rock High Schools with the assistance of the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
Mr. Speaker, here in New Providence, a Junior High School is being constructed on Prince Charles Drive, partially funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank. This project is expected to be completed in time for the beginning of the new school year, 2002.
Mr. Speaker, my government is cognizant of the fact that airports play an important role in the life of Family Island communities. To this end, new airport terminal buildings will be constructed at Marsh Habour, Abaco, Cat Island and Mayaguana. The works for the preparation of the airports at Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay, Abaco, George Town Exuma, Long Island and Governor’s Harbour and North Eleuthera for night time flying will continue through the 2002-2003 fiscal period.
Mr. Speaker, last year my government commenced the New Providence Road Improvement Project, an extensive roads project comprising nine new corridors and the upgrading of fourteen existing corridors. Recently we commissioned two of these new corridors, the C.W. Saunders Highway and the Gladstone Road corridor, Phase 1.
The improvements to the Sir Milo Butler Highway are nearing completion. All the roads have been designed in accordance with the standards of the Florida Department of Transportation. Mr. Speaker, in addition to the New Providence Road Project, my government will construct a road corridor that will extend Soldier Road to the Nassau International Airport and Cow Pen Road will be extended to intersect with the Coral Harbour Road.
Mr. Speaker, my government will also divert West Bay Street at Cable Beach so that the road will be located south of the Office Buildings. This will eliminate the vehicular and pedestrian conflicts that have resulted in injury and unfortunately death in some instances. Likewise, my government will continue to make provision in its budgets for the repair and maintenance of roads in the Family Islands.
Mr. Speaker, my government will continue in its effort to repair the
infrastructure damaged during the passage of Hurricane Floyd. The projects
listed under Phase 1 of the Inter-American Development Bank loan agreement
are well on the way.
And preliminary work has commenced on Phase 2 projects inclusive of the replacement of the Glass Window Bridge, the restructuring of the Fishing Hole Causeway in Grand Bahama and a new government dock for George Town, Exuma.
Mr. Speaker, the projects left on the table by the FNM Government to
be done by Public Works, such as the overdue repairs needed from Hurricane
Michelle and the long overdue need to fix the Glass Window Bridge in North
Eleuthera, only shows how irresponsible they really were.
Mr. Speaker, the infrastructure was deteriorating because of lack of repair after Hurricane Michelle and children were being hurt on a bridge that should have been fixed three to four years ago. Mr. Speaker, while this neglect was going on, the FNM Government was publicly crying about September 11th. But privately spending the people’s money like drunken sailors and singing Tommy T and Me.
Mr. Speaker, while Bahamians, the environment and the infrastructure was suffering from abject neglect, every time the FNM Government didn’t want to spend the people’s money on the people, they cried September 11th. But when it came to spending money on Tommy T and me, the people’s money was no object to spend.
Mr. Speaker, it is things like this that makes my government and the Speech from the Throne so timely. For as I stated previously, my government and the Throne Speech bespeaks of development. And Public Works will surely do its part. Mr. Speaker, it is time that the people’s money be spent wisely on them.
DRAINAGE - NEW PROVIDENCE
Mr. Speaker I would be remiss if I did not touch on the long standing vexing problem of flooding in New Providence. Whilst nothing can be done to prevent the acts of nature, like prolonged periods of rainfalls, much can and must be done to minimize their impact. A sustained programme of maintaining wells and drains should minimize damage to homes, roads, other public infracture and this disruption of people’s lives.
Mr. Speaker, I am advised that the drainage budget has for several years been under-funded, despite the many request of residence for additional wells and cleaning.
Mr. Speaker, I shall shortly be reviewing proposals by my Ministry’s
experts on how this vexing problem may be best minimized. I have
some common sense ideas of my own, which I shall disclose in due course,
that will involve a hands on approach by residents of the flood prune areas
here in New Providence.
WATER & SEWERAGE CORPORATION
Mr. Speaker, it is in regard to wise spending that my portfolio of the Water & Sewerage Corp will be called upon by my government to not only make portable water available to every single Bahamian, but as rationally as possible, make it also affordable.
For example, in 1997, the FNM Government using an election ploy, placed pipelines in Long Island, but never placed any water in those pipelines for Long Islanders. And they were kicked out of Office five years later without having done so, nor explaining to the people why not.
Mr. Speaker, again I say that the Speech from the Throne speaks to the
development of people, of the environment and the continued development
Therefore my government will be working through the Water & Sewerage Corp. to spearhead the discontinuation of Long Islanders paying for portable water by placing portable water in those pipelines in Long Island as quickly as possible. Pipelines that the previous Administration put there to tease and tempt Long Islanders into believing that a vote for the FNM in 1997 meant that portable water would be running through the pipelines they laid down.
Mr. Speaker, while it was a sad account, as the Minister responsible for the Water & Sewerage Corp, it was a learning experience for me to have read a recent story in the Long Island Mail Newspaper. In a story entitled ‘Shanty Town’ Long Island-Bahamas,” written by a Ms. Tanya Cartwright in the May 2002 edition, I was enlightened as to what specifically needs to be done in such a place as Dunmore, Long Island concerning portable water.
Mr. Speaker, I was shocked to read that the antiquated government tank is locked and on either side of the tank are two holes supposedly to keep out debris and maybe catch some rain-water when it rains. I also read that the residents for the most part have to purchase drinking water and when they can’t afford to, they are forced to boil the tank water. On many occasions the residents have gotten sick from the water.
Likewise Mr. Speaker, most of the homes do not have running water and
many of the residents have outside toilets, while others use the bush to
relieve themselves. Many of the residents had also reported their condition
to Social Services but under the FNM they got no response.
And while many of the residents cook with the water, when it comes to drinking water they have to buy it. Many of the families express that ten gallons of drinking water does not go far because of the size of the families.
Mr. Speaker, most of the residents have five and ten drums lined up
to get water from the government tank or from a private tank. However some
of the older residents cannot make it up the hill to tote water, so they
pay the water truck driver $50 to fill their drums.
Now I understand that the Water & Sewerage Corp driver charges $50 not so much for the water but more so for the trucking services. I can assure you that I will be looking into that situation.
Mr. Speaker, besides for the fact that human beings need good water
to drink, the health condition of Typhoid Fever becomes prevalent in situations
were people do not have running water on their premises.
Typhoid Fever can also be passed from person to person, because of not properly washing the hands after using the bathroom. Likewise, the storing of water outside in buckets, drums or containers encourages mosquitoes to lay their eggs in them putting people at risk to catch Denghy Fever. And it goes without saying the health risk of dirt going into these containers.
Mr. Speaker, as enlightening as the said article was, I find it appalling
that Bahamians are living in these conditions. I also find it criminal
that while their former Member of Parliament and the former Minister of
Works, was busy strutting like a peacock over holding on to 85% of the
votes in Long Island; his government had his constituents living in prehistoric
Mr. Speaker, Long Islanders should have done more than just vote him out. They should have made him drink the tank water for one month. Mr. Speaker, I will not be able to sleep good at night, if something isn’t done about the water conditions in Long Island and other places.
Mr. Speaker, in the course of the Speech from the Throne speaking to the development of Bahamians and the Bahamas, the hard task of making sure places like Long Island has running portable water in pipelines is not all there is to the situation. My government must also ensure that the water is healthy to use for all and sundry reasons.
And when I think about the problems associated with the water in places like Long Island and Acklins, where children have gotten sick, my Government will again be working through the Water & Sewerage Corp to bring urgent relief to all Family Islands. The Bahamas cannot any longer than necessary, have water that is more times a curse than a blessing.
Mr. Speaker, I’ve always expressed concerns over the national priority of the investments made in the Utilities in the Bahamas. Logically, the first priority should have been water because human beings must have water in order to survive. Yet, water has been treated as a step-child to the other Utilities, like electricity and telephone services. We must seek to correct this distortion by getting our priorities right.
Mr. Speaker my government must also find a solution to the high percentage of water unaccounted for on the island of New Providence. This problem existed when I was the Deputy Chairman of that Corporation more than 13 years ago. The problem remains after the expenditure of millions and millions of dollars. This hemorrhaging must stop.
Mr. Speaker, these are among the more serious plans, my government has for the Water & Sewerage Corp in bringing relief to Bahamians. As the Speech from the Throne clearly shows, my government is about developing human lives, developing the environment and developing the infrastructure of the Bahamas. None of these things can be done without an efficient Water and Sewerage Corp.
Mr. Speaker, my government is painfully aware of the problems associated with running the National Flag Carrier, Bahamasair. Mr. Speaker, those problems are historic and egregiously damning. Mr. Speaker, as the Minister responsible for Bahamasair, the lot has fallen to me to attempt to rectify the problems of Bahamasair; problems that I know so well.
Mr. Speaker, my government views the problems associated with Bahamasair as being multi-faceted. One of the problems is the continued subsidization of the flag carrier at an alarming rate. Another problem is the proper maintenance of equipment. Another is the proper type of equipment. And last but not least is the performance of the national flag carrier.
Mr. Speaker, my government is also aware that poor and unreliable service is the genesis for all kind of considerations as to what should be done with the airline. Mr. Speaker, I believe that if people see they are getting value and quality for the dollar they spend on services, it would go a long way in the belief of the need for having an essential service belonging to the taxpayers.
Mr. Speaker, it is in that regard that my government proposes to farm
out to reputable charter services those routes in the Bahamas that are
not profitable for the equipment presently used by Bahamasair, as is stated
in the Speech from the Throne.
Likewise, for the staff of Bahamasair to justify the taxpayer’s money continuing to be used on the airline, they must be prepared to play a major role in bringing the airline up to the standards of 21st century travel.
The role of the personnel at Bahamasair in running a top flight and timely service is a role that they must commit themselves to, as my government along with Bahamasair Board Directors discover more ways to relieve the taxpayers of the total burden of subsidizing the airline.
Mr. Speaker, this request by my government for the personnel at Bahamasair
to work along with us, reinforces that the Speech from the Throne is all
And in the case of Bahamasair, its about developing new ways for the national flag carrier to improve its services, improve its bottom line financially and to improve the way Bahamians and tourists feel about flying the national flag carrier.
BAHAMAS ELECTRICITY CORP
Mr. Speaker, it has been my pleasure to have served as Chairman of BEC. I use to know that entity reasonably well. Time does not allow me at this point to speak to the concerns of that Corporation. However, I intend to fully address the government and the people’s concerns during the forth coming Budget Debate.
Mr. Speaker, I conclude by ending how I began by thanking the Governor-General for her elegant and stately delivery of the Speech from the Throne. I likewise thank my government for the Speech from the Throne. It is more than an adequate policy statement of the continued development of a 21st century Bahamas for a 21st century Bahamian.
And Mr. Speaker, as we move on to debate the resolution to borrow $125 million dollars and the 2002-3 Budget Presentation, reasonable Bahamians will find that under the circumstances, my government has offered the nation the best policy statement possible as delivered in the Speech from the Throne.
Mr. Speaker, I also firmly believe that as my government out of a matter of justice and necessity reveals to the people what the previous Administration did with their money, they will be more than ecstatic that they fired them on May 2nd.
It is in that light, that I also thank the Bahamian people for having
the wisdom to stop more of their money being flushed down a toilet of corruption,
by flushing the FNM down the toilet instead. It was a wise, prudent and
A new PLP Government means a new chance at prosperity. Through consultation with the people and wise decision making, the Bahamas under a new PLP Government will be great again.
MR SPEAKER, I THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF THE CONSTITUENTS OF BAIN &