Under the theme, 'Now is the time for Grand Bahama' Leader of the DNA, Branville McCartney, who was on the island Wednesday to introduce the party’s candidates for the next election and to share the importance of change.
Acknowledging Grand Bahama, the Magic City’s potential, McCartney stated, "The city of Freeport boasts some of the country’s most impressive infrastructure, which can and should be seen as an important cog in the wheel of the country’s overall economic development and prosperity.
“Added to that is its proximity to one of the world’s largest economies, one of the region’s largest containment and shipping facilities and what we should have is a recipe for unprecedented growth for the island and its residents," McCartney shared.
Additionally, he claimed, "Under the visionless leadership of both the PLP and the FNM, however, what we’ve gotten instead, has been an economy in crisis, record unemployment, outrageously high energy costs and an overall lack of opportunity."
McCartney explained that over the years, past governments have had multiple opportunities to address the challenges of the ‘Second City.’
Giving the example of the discussions on the Hawksbill Creek Agreement and the recommendations from the government-appointed tax force, which resulted in the extension of property tax exceptions, McCartney maintained, “the PM, in his usual fashion, touted the outcome of those negotiations, but the reality is that the results simply did not go far enough.
“Under a DNA government, such advantageous concessions would not be reserved for wealthy foreign landowners alone," he insisted.
“The Democratic National Alliance has long advocated for domestic investors and local businesses to have access to the same level of concessions and government consideration as any foreign investor or land holder.
“In that vein, the government’s taskforce completely missed an opportunity to level the playing field once and for all,” McCartney claimed.
“Their failure to consider extending such concessions to the average every day Bahamian as well, is further proof that this Christie-led administration is fully disconnected from the needs of Grand Bahamians,” McCartney furthered.
The DNA leader expressed his concern for the apparent disconnect by Christie’s government and as a result, Grand Bahama businesses have come under attack from the falling-fiscal and economic policies put forward by his government.
McCartney claimed that the present government has stifled entrepreneurship and small and medium businesses in The Bahamas by the miles of red tape, compounded by corruption and lack of transparency.
The party leader noted that while other jurisdictions have taken and mastered the ease of doing business in today’s technological world, The Bahamas has been left behind.
"In a 21st century Bahamas there is no reason why our nation’s second city can’t be developed into a hub for technology in the region. Under a DNA government, large Tech-Companies would be invited to partner with the government with the intent of creating a designated Tech-Park particularly for data-storage companies, tech and software development companies and also Satellite and Cellular firms in need of additional launch-space and capacity. Backed by the necessary legislation, a DNA government proposes the appointment of a team tasked with soliciting companies that would provide the necessary projections on how we can compete with other Tech-Park’s around the world, like Silicon Valley, California, in a sensitive and profitable way," McCartney insisted.
The failure to embrace the Bahamian entrepreneur and the untapped potential of technology, McCartney furthered, is a major factor in the unemployment we see.
"But encouraging entrepreneurship is just one aspect of a transformative plan, which the DNA hopes to enact for GBI once becoming the government. The second phase involves lowering the cost of energy, which is not only a challenge for struggling Bahamian families; but also for small and medium sized enterprises which are the real economic engine of any country.
“For too long now we’ve allowed successive governments to pay only lip service to the idea of renewable energy. The Democratic National Alliance has created a plan, which among other things could reduce the cost of energy exponentially through waste to energy production thereby reducing overhead costs for small businesses and making this essential service affordable for everyone.
“To see those detailed plans, we encourage you to visit the party’s website where we also lay out other plans for renewable and sustainable energy resources as well,” McCartney elaborated.
The DNA leader also spoke to the failure of successive governments to capitalize on Grand Bahama’s infrastructure to position it as a hub for export.
"For all intents and purposes, the people of Grand Bahama have been used as pawns in the political war fought between the PLP and FNM,” McCartney claimed. “In the last General Election, Grand Bahamians trusted this government when they claimed to believe in Bahamians; trusted that their interests and the interests of their children would be protected.
“But what have you received in return for that trust? NOTHING. Now, with under a year until the next General Election, both parties have begun taking an interest in Grand Bahama again.
“After months of neglecting government buildings on this island, neglecting civil servants on this island, the government is once again taking interest.
“After months of dragging its feet on important matters regarding the extension of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement and keeping Grand Bahamians in the dark about the future of the island’s hotel and its employees, you can be sure that both parties will once again turn its attention to Grand Bahama,” McCartney claimed.
While claiming the FNM and PLP have been playing politics, the DNA has been listening to the concerns of the people of the Bahamas to secure a bright future.
In this regard, McCartney said the DNA has put together a group of passionate, hardworking Bahamians to assist in making such plans a reality. “These persons are your neighbors, your friends, and mentors. They know first-hand the challenges which you face and are committed to improving the quality of life for all Grand Bahamians.”
Published Friday, July 15, 2016