The Editor 31st December 2020
As the Bahamas slides inexorably and predictably towards the edge of the financial cliff created by an incompetent and fiscally profligate government, the usual financial pundits, know it all’s, fawning sycophants, fake academic and professional qualifications holders appear to have lost their expertise and opinions. Maybe they are awaiting further instructions from their controllers and political benefactors.
In any event they stand mute; not a peep from them. They offer scant credible advice and little or no solace to Bahamian or international financial institutions.
In the face of a prediction of a default on our sovereign debt sometime next year by an imminent Caribbean Economist, they attacked the messenger yet, have not told us why these dire predictions are wrong.
Unsurprisingly, under the weight of these attacks the economist appears to have qualified the financial conditions underpinning the prediction of a default but not whether it will occur.
The Governor of the Central Bank of the Bahamas calls a prediction of a sovereign debt default in 2021 “ unreasonably alarmist” but fails to say what a reasonable level of alarm for Bahamians should be.
Instead, what the Governor engaged in was in my opinion a series of empty and confusing statements which should provide no comfort for Bahamians or international lenders.
A top Ministry of Finance official has dismissed the assertions by the Caribbean economist that The Bahamas is at risk of a sovereign debt default as early as 2021 as “outside the realm of fiscal possibilities”.
As usual, somewhere in the middle lies the answer. The reality is that the FNM government has borrowed billions of dollars; committed the Bahamian taxpayers to hundreds of millions in future interest repayments and unnecessary expenditures, mortgaged the futures of our grandchildren and great grandchildren and at the same time has never accounted for the billions of dollars borrowed, nor the millions received in donor funds.
These omissions can have very serious implications for the reputation of the Bahamas and even more troublesome consequences for the donors who must account to their organizations for these funds as well as the tax benefits derived from these philanthropic donations.
And even as the Governor talks about fiscal prudence, he plunges ahead with his proposed new Central Bank edifice when we have a perfectly good Central Bank building fully paid for. Perhaps the Governor will tell us how much his new, extravagant, and totally unnecessary building will cost us and how it will be funded, after all we will foot the bill.
The Governor also said, “The Bahamas is far off from having exhausted its fiscal options and sophisticated creditors are conscious of this”. What this means was never fully explained but does not sound good for the future of this country whose sovereign debt is now junk status and which is on every financial blacklist you can think of.
Perhaps he means that sophisticated creditors will make us pay even more
exorbitant interest rates on the foreign currency loans which this government has habitually used to bolster our reserves and disguise the dire financial mess we are in. But as no one tells us about how our money is spent this will remain a mystery.
Maybe he is alluding to a possible IMF bailout with all of the attendant misery for the Bahamian people and our standard of living. I do not know I am just guessing.
What I can safely predict however is that any financial calamity which befalls us in 2021 and beyond will be swift, certain, and disastrous and no amount of obfuscation, dissembling, bluster, deflection, and distraction can disguise that.
I will also boldly predict that at the end of this financial mess more than reputations and professional lives will be left in tatters as a new administration digs down and uncovers the reasons for this financial disaster and holds those responsible and their enablers to account.
Bahamians are experiencing first-hand the dangers of electing a populist
government led by a narcissist just like our American neighbours have. Populist governments have a knack for tapping into the peoples grievances many created by their lies and propaganda and once elected produce no plans for improving the lot of citizens. Populist governments by their very nature have no ideology, no core values, or rational workable agendas.
Their programs such as they are is to complain about and undo the successes and progress made by their predecessors in office while producing chaos to disguise their multitude of failures. This of course explains this governments penchant to stop, review, cancel then take credit for the vital programs left in place by the previous administration. It also fully explains why the government resorts to threats and abusive behaviour each time Bahamians complain about their inept performance at
every level. Hatred of Bahamians is historical for FNM administrations.
Having governed 15 of the last 20 years they still complain about the PLP and do everything in their powers to retard the economic and social growth of the average Bahamian while further enriching themselves and their political sponsors and benefactors through non transparency in awarding contracts, employment, nepotism, and cronyism.
How else can you explain Bahamians having to obtain a travel visa to return home and have to use a website run by FNM supporters which crashes constantly?
The PM is obviously out to punish Bahamians who dare to travel while he travels constantly at our expense as if the virus is only in other countries. But there is a new day dawning; its now 2021 and no matter how many lockdowns, lies and attempts to fool us the government will soon have to account for their stewardship.
The much-abused Bahamian voters will soon have the whip hand and, we will mete out the appropriate punishment. Now I know that some are doing better than others during these stressful times and will support these miscreants because poverty has not washed up on their doorsteps.
To these persons I say this, it is our money. Our politicians are using our money as they see fit with no accountability or regard for us. Between their salaries and constituency allowances they are living better than 85% of Bahamians yet they begrudge us our pennies and plan to heap even more taxes on us in 2021.
Of course, they will blame it all on Dorian and Covid -19 and not their chronic incompetence. But recall, we were in financial trouble long before Dorian and Covid-19 Many MP,s have never experienced this level of prosperity because they are not qualified in the normal course of events to earn such a splendid salary.
But time longer than rope, the rabbit will soon have the gun then we will see what is what.
Michael J. Brown