PM Christie Doesn’t Get the Credit He Deserves….



Christie - Davis team is the Bahamas' new GOLDEN TEAM now set to be challanged by New Generation group
Christie – Davis team must quickly engage STRONGER PR on the way forward!

Prime Minister needs better /STRONGER PR to properly document his record… BP SUNDAY SPECIAL!

By Jerry Roker 

for Bahamas Press

Forty two years on, a young fledgling state struggles to define and distinguish itself in a world of nation states that have challenges of their own. Of the many states still breaking through the cocoon of infancy, The Bahamas can boast of having a stable democracy with freedoms that are the envy of many. We jealously guard our sovereignty and autonomy with a pride that far surpasses any notion of small size that might characterize an island nation of  700 islands and cays located just of the coast of Florida, United States.

Breaking free from the shackles of colonialism must have meant more than the raising of a national flag, reciting a pledge and singing of a national anthem. With political independence came the added responsibility of charting a course for socio-economic growth and development. A small island state such as ours is often caught in the quagmire of self-definition and self-assertion in an international space where our voice seldom rises beyond an audible whisper. Except of course should we band together with other states of similar circumstance who might share a common philosophical position. And herein lie the age old justification and compulsion to strengthen the bond among island states of the Caribbean that for geographic, cultural, historical or economic reasons may very well benefit from the “strength of numbers”.

But our journey of several decades as mapped out in the detail of the experience of the ill-fated West Indian Federation, or of CARICOM and the OECS that followed, suggest that the ambivalence of the waters that separate us or connect us, is at the crux of the development conundrum of the Caribbean. This is further compounded by an insularity, born in part out of an impulse to protect self (self-interest).

But the question arises, can the language that often describes the experience of the now developed countries adequately express the challenges and experiences of small developing states? And do concepts such as independence, autonomy and sovereignty mean the same thing when applied to developing states? And by the same token, the development that we crave, is it to be perceived in like manner to that which those advanced nations exhibit?

Often when I get stuck in the east  bound traffic on Bay Street, I wonder quietly whether the traffic jam in effect denotes that we are doing well as a nation, to the extent that there are so many vehicles on the island (and that speaks of some kind of advancement!), or conversely that the halted traffic in effect suggests the inadequacy of our physical infrastructure (road network) that we have some distance to go still along that long path to development!

The trappings of modernity and development are evident in garb, architecture, culinary taste, recreational options/choices – that to the naked eye may very well suggest that we have come some distance. But are we missing one of the most fundamental precursors to development … and that is, independence of thought and creativity not mired in compulsions to mimic those who appear to be farther along. Or is it that globalization has stripped countries like ours of options separate and apart from the general currents of the days. The moment for self-definition and assertion may have passed and we are now left to trail along well-trodden paths that at times look more like an obstruction course!

That reality is somehow masked by the level of access, participation and engagement that is afforded us, thanks to the new forms of information technology and the ever crowded highway of social media. And so, high illiteracy rates, low levels of access to tertiary education, poor health systems, rising cost of living, an uncomfortably high food import bill, a disturbingly high debt to GDP ratio all of which characterize the pitfalls of underdevelopment escape the attention that they so desperately deserve.

As we enter this our 43rd year, and in light of the largest tourist development in our region, becoming somewhat unhinged right before our very eyes, the lesson we must learn is that the economic mold that got us to this birthday, has outlived its usefulness. The immediacy of our challenges demands courageous and creative leadership.

Despite brutal criticism from those opposed to PM Christie, he has made the tough decisions without flinching and I believe history will be very kind to him.

The creation of domestic gaming, created a new cadre of businessmen, who look like us. Through their creative entrepreneurship, they have created thousands of well-paying jobs, and the tax dollars paid into the country’s coffers, assist us in righting our fiscal circumstance.  The philanthropy of the owners of the web shops, is no secret. These gentlemen, to the man, have hearts of gold. There are hardly any groupings who have not benefitted from their kind generosity.

BAMSI, despite the bad press, some of it deservedly, has the potential to significantly reduce our huge food import bill, thereby strengthening our foreign reserves. The job creation element must not be discounted.

No one likes to pay taxes, and over the years our citizens and businesses alike developed a culture of tax evasion, distinctly different from tax avoidance. Our tax collection rates was among the worst in the region. The introduction of VAT was another decision taken by Mr. Christie’s government that despite any potential political backlash, it will auger well for the country. It’s roll out was by all independent accounts, nearly flawless.

I do not wish to bore with a litany of statistical data, but suffice it to say, thanks in part to VAT, the domestic gaming taxes, and fiscal discipline on the expenditure side, our budget deficit will be reduced to levels that will significantly reduce our need to borrow. Les we forget, this did not happen by chance. Mr. Christie and his team deserves our commendation.

NHI, which is on its way, will be a game changer indeed. The inequity in the healthcare system is morally wrong and personally, I find it nauseating that some of our citizens are opposed to it.

Urban Renewal, what can I say. This award-winning program has transformed the lives of thousands of our citizens in meaningful ways. Yet there are those, who for cheap political points, oppose its very existence.(More on this later)

As we move forward to another birthday, I am hopeful that, despite our setbacks, every little thing is gonna be all right.


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