The following is a statement by Bradley B E Roberts – Former MP and Cabinet Minister Of The Bahamas:
Brent Symonette is apparently confused, intellectually dishonest, clearly lives in an echo chamber and has zero credibility when it comes to handling the people’s money. The FNM’s stewardship of the Bahamian economy and its management of public finances leaves much to be desired as the ill effects are still being felt today.
The record will show that during our last term in office, the PLP government was able to overcome the reckless spending, borrowing and mismanagement by the FNM and grew public revenue by 51%, added more than $1 billion to the economy and recorded a budget surplus in just five short years. Those are the facts.
In our current term, the PLP government is projected to add some $600 million to the Bahamian economy after inheriting an economy that the FNM admitted was sick and “in a wheel chair” as a result of their excessive borrowing, spending and general incompetence. In thirty short months the PLP has successfully cut the deficit in half and by some $160 million in the current fiscal year. This government’s fiscal prudence has attracted praise from credit ratings agencies and the World Bank. As a matter of fact, the last time The Bahamas enjoyed an upgrade to its sovereign credit ratings was in 2006 under the PLP. Those are the facts.
This performance is in stark contrast to the FNM who presided over multiple downgrades during its last term in office. The record will show that the economy contracted under the FNM; the national debt ballooned by 40% in five years, the largest on record and government revenue deteriorated year after year despite huge tax hikes and unsustainable borrowing.
To add insult to injury, the FNM collected some $500 million in one-offs during that period and it was all squandered. They collected well over $100 million in dividends from BTC before its sale; they collected over $200 million from the BTC sale; they collected some $40 million in stamp taxes from the sale of BORCO; tens of millions more were collected from the sale of South Riding Point Holdings Limited (former Burma Oil) and countless millions more in stamp taxes and fees when the government of China took an equity interest in the Baha Mar project. Additionally, the FNM government managed to exhaust its overdraft facility to the tune of another $200 million. In the end, the Bahamian people were left with huge debts to pay off, high unemployment and an economy teetering on the brink of collapse.
I dare say that had it not been for the waste of the FNM, the urgent implementation of VAT to save this economy would not have been necessary.
For his part, Brent Symonette was fired as chairman of the Airport Authority over a contract administration that was in serious conflict. Apparently he did not learn from the error of his malfeasant ways because as a sitting minister of the cabinet and Deputy Prime Minister no less, he chaired a committee to oversee the relocation of container port companies while he owned property on which some of the ports were located. He was also found to be in violation of the constitution regarding his financial interests in Bahamas Hot Mix and its contractual relationship with Jose Cartillone over the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP). In each case Brent Symonette found himself in a fundamental conflict between his public duty to service and protect the public interest and advancing his personal business interests.
So the last party to talk about trust with the people’s money is the FNM and of all people, Brent Symonette. This disgraced character has proven over and over again that he has one interest and that is Brent Symonette and how he could exploit public service to expand his personal wealth.
There is absolutely no nexus between the drivel of Brent Symonette and reality, the facts and the empirical data surrounding the fiscal stewardship of the PLP government. Brent suffers from diarrhea of the mouth and should keep quiet if he knows what is good for him. He had to know that if he made such a silly statement as the one attributed to him in the Tribune’s Business Section, I was coming after him aggressively and biting hard.