Thursday, August 18, 2022


OK, Turnquest Resigned. Now What?

By now we are aware of Peter Turnquest’s resignation as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister as Finance following allegations of fraud when he served as a manager and director in two aviation companies. The writ filed in the Supreme Court does not name Turnquest as the defendant in the case, but mentions him in his role as manager of the company responsible for the “bogus loans” that totaled nearly $30 million.

Turnquest in his resignation letter maintains his innocence, calling the matters “unfounded” and “untrue.” However, in the court of public opinion, some have found him guilty. It is important to remember that these allegations are simply accusations that need to be proven by the court system.

However, Turnquest saw it necessary to resign considering his post as Minister of Finance, and determined that the allegations will distract the work of government as it seeks to maneuver the country’s economy through the pandemic.

Who will replace Peter Turnquest?

Turnquest was second in command to Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and rose to the position in 2014 when other party members opposed Minnis’ leadership. He eventually became finance minister in 2017 when the Free National Movement won at the election poll.

Under Turnquest’s watch, we have seen an increase of Vat from 7%– introduced by the Progressive Liberal Party, to 12% and a number of downgrades. But all in all, Turnquest has handled them decently, while remaining steady-handed and committed to public finance reform.

Minnis said he will become interim Finance Minister and will make an appointment in “due course.”

Scanning the Cabinet, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar will make a superb minister of finance considering his background in accounts and the many successes he’s had in the country’s primary industry, tourism, and his shrewd business skills.

Agriculture Minister Michael Pintard is well suited for the position of Deputy Prime Minister. He is young, articulate, thorough, and well-liked. Pintard is a man of few words in the House of Assembly, but when he speaks, it’s substantive. In addition, heading into the 2022 general election, Pintard is best suited to go head-to-head with PLP’s Deputy Leader Chester Cooper, who may change voters’ minds at the polls if they reconsider Minnis as prime minister.

Pintard can be to Minnis what U.S Vice President Mike Pence is to President Donald Trump. Pintard balances Minnis in every way.

For now, it’s a waiting game to see what happens next.

Why D’Aguilar Wants US to Change Level 4 Travel Advisory

Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar is hoping that the United States will see the country’s improvement in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and raise the travel advisory for the Bahamas.

Why it matters

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice, warning that travelers should avoid all travel to the Bahamas. The general advisory is Level 3, meaning that travelers should reconsider travel to the Bahamas.
  • The warning can affect the country’s economy as the Bahamas mostly depends on tourism for its revenue. The country is seeking to reopen to international travelers, to stimulate the economy in midst of the pandemic.

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar wants U.S to reassess the COVID-19 situation in the Bahamas

“This is no change from what was said from the US government from July.

“This situation has been in effect from July. It’s all about timing. When they release the travel order at the end of July, it was very unfortunate because up to the end June, we were doing so remarkably well in terms of our management of the covid pandemic.

“Once again this is a question of timing. At the end of October, we were not doing terribly well. Here we are a month later, we’re much better.

“So we’re hoping that Americans see fit to do reassessment as they see our numbers improve and see fit to change that rating,” he said.

D’Aguilar’s advice for Bahamians

“Please don’t congregate, please don’t party. Because if you contribute to a spike in numbers, this rating or this warning will persist and we are heading in the right direction. Our numbers are coming down and this will then lead to a change in that travel advisory.”

Featured image: Fox Business

Dioniso Says Tourism Takes Better Care of Bahamians. Why Tourism Won’t Ever Go Away

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar is anticipating all major hotels to reopen by October 15.

He said the government is targetting the full operations of beaches across the country.

D’Aguilar said the government wants to ensure a sustainable opening as the reopening and closing has impacted the industry.

“That was too traumatic for the tourism sector and significantly impacted our relationship with our travel partners,” he said.

The government is eyeing a complete reopening of the industry by early November, D’Aguilar said.

Will the Bahamas ever do away with tourism?

The answer is no.

D’Aguilar said tourism is the only industry that has proven to rebound after hurricanes, pandemics, and global recessions.

The industry has exacerbated the growth of the economy and is the number one provider of foreign exchange and primary source revenue for the treasury of the Bahamas.

D’Aguilar said there is no other economic sector that can deliver with immediacy and magnitude, the foreign exchange, employment levels, and tax revenues. Many developing countries, including the Bahamas, rely on tax receipts from its tourism industries
to facilitate food and construction imports.

He argued that the economic potential is unparalleled as tourism is the worlds’ second-fastest-growing sector and the world’s largest employer of skilled and unskilled workers.

In fact, human capital development for the Bahamas–housing, education, health, infrastructure, and tax revenue is derived from the millions of tourists who visit the Bahama shores each year.

What about diversification?

Ever since the Bahamas tourism suffered a major hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, critics have argued that the Bahamas must look to diversify its economy, with less dependency on the sector. The Bahamas has seen a 56 percent fall-off in visitor arrivals during the first six months of the year – from a record 3.9 million arrivals in 2019 to 1.7 million in 2020.

D’Aguilar said this shows a misunderstanding of trade, markets, and how economies function.

Instead, D’Aguilar touts diversification within the industry.

He said it means the country has to incorporate more local content from manufacturing, culture and heritage, arts and entertainment, accommodations, restaurants, authentically Bahamian products, and transportation to build a dynamic market, and to ensure that every dollar spent by the visitor on those goods and services stays in the country and in the hands of Bahamians.

What are the challenges facing the Bahamas’ market?

D’Aguilar admits that challenges face the  Bahamas.

He said the country’s marketplace is more vulnerable than many in our region, and indeed around the world. He added that it is neither as robust nor as competitive as it could be, stating that it lacks diversity and has been starved of significant increases in new, locally owned businesses and market innovation for many years.

He acknowledged that the country can improve its tourism model to increase trade and economic opportunity.

Social Media Shoot Down D’Aguilar’s Apology

After heavy criticism was levied at the government over a destination wedding in Harbour Island, Eleuthera during the weekend lock down, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar expressed regret, as the decision to host the wedding went through him.

D’Aguilar apologized outside of Cabinet on Tuesday, as some Bahamians were forced to postpone their wedding ceremonies because of the immediate weekend lock down.

He said although he confirmed the request for the destination wedding to be held, the ultimate decision was made by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.

D’Aguilar said the government should have clarified that the public can seek permission from the competent authority to continue their event.

He summed it up as a lesson learnt for the government, but some social media users have called for his resignation.

Other users questioned whether Bahamians requested permission of the competent authority, before postponing their special event.

Dr. Minnis said on Sunday that he gave permission for two weddings of more than 5 in attendance, providing that attendees adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.
Dr. Minnis announced a lock down on Friday evening, giving permission for weddings and funerals, but stipulating that not more than five people were allowed, including the officiant.

Davis: A Wise Move to Not Impose a 2-Week Lock Down on New Providence

Leader of the Opposition is praising the government for not imposing a curfew on New Providence, as confirmed by Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar outside of Cabinet on Tuesday.

D’Aguilar addressed rumours that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis will impose a 2 week lock-down of New Providence as he has done in Grand Bahama, following a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. D’Aguilr said health officials do not think a lock down is necessary at this time.

Davis, at his monthly press conference, called the decision by the government, “wise.”

He said it is important to keep the Bahamian people safe while maintaining the economy.

“A lock down would be devastating. We do know that it was being contemplated, as we were advised that it was an option being considered by the government. I’m happy to note that, that may be the decision not to lock the country down, particularly New Providence,” Davis said.

New Providence recorded 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, which is believed to be the highest number of cases ever confirmed in a single day for the island.