Hon. I. Chester Cooper, M.P.,
Exumas and Ragged Island
PLP Deputy Leader
Shadow Minister of Finance
I note the tabling of the executive summary of the report of the Economic Recovery Committee.
It is unfortunate that it took the crippling of the global economy through a worldwide pandemic for the prime minister to assemble a committee of professionals to recommend how to drive our economy forward, but here we are.
What we heard from the prime minister yesterday sounded much more like a campaign speech than an actual plan or update on what is being done to spur economic recovery.
He says the Grand Lucayan Resort project is on track, but the sale is not closed and there is no definitive date.
He boasts of the Wynn project starting construction on its second floor, not mentioning he delayed the PLP-approved project when he came to office.
He brags about BPL, when, even though the major hotels are offline and thousands of businesses were repeatedly shuttered and operating at reduced hours for months, the power company still struggled to keep the lights on.
He also neglected to mention that BPL’s rate reduction bond has yet to be placed and we have had no update on the status of it.
As for the executive summary, we plan to dissect it in detail, but there was not much new or revolutionary that was reported by the prime minister yesterday.
He stated the obvious, while spouting off a wish list of many things we have heard before.
An actual, sound plan is specific, measurable, achievable, and result-oriented with a timeline.
We were given no details on when and how this wish list will be implemented. And we will now have to wait until next month to hear which recommendations this administration supports and will action.
We acknowledged and thank the volunteers for their work.
It is heartening to hear the government has listened and accepted my recommendation to expedite the approval process of foreign direct investment and also the investment of $250 million to support entrepreneurs.
Again, I recommended these things in 2017 and have repeated them numerous times thereafter, and each time the other side laughed.
The stark reality is that we cannot fix the economy until we get COVID-19 under control in The Bahamas.
To realize this, you need look no further than the fact that Sandals is open across the Caribbean but not in The Bahamas.
We are failing in the COVID-19 fight, and our tourism partners have noticed.
Had the prime minister taken the advice the Progressive Liberal Party offered three years ago, and repeatedly since, and assembled a similar collection of professionals with a view to implementing the road map laid out in the National Development Plan, we would have been able to pivot and recover much more quickly.
We, again, offer this advice to the prime minister.