Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Embattled Toby Smith Gives Withering Review of Government’s Favoritism for Foreign Investors

An embattled Bahamian entrepreneur Toby Smith condemned the government, irked that Prime Minister Philip Davis and his government favor foreign investors over Bahamian investors.

“Foreign all the way. When last did you announce support for any Bahamian-owned stores, wholesalers, retailers, bonefish camps, lodges, boutiques, [and] Bahamian-owned resorts? In fact, anything Bahamian owned?” a furious Smith asked in a social media post. He referred to the government’s signing of a $550 million Heads of Agreement with foreign developers on Monday for a new luxury resort in Faith Cave Cay, Exuma, which comes after a recent signing of other Heads of Agreement for $25 million for a boutique in the island chain. The signings come on the heel of the government’s decision to grant Crown Land to Royal Caribbean International (RCI) for its $100 million beach club project, which Smith says he has a lease. Smith has been in a long battle with the government for the property located on the western end of Paradise Island for the development of his Paradise Island Light and Beach Club. But Chief Justice Ian Winder recently ruled that he does not have claim to the land because it was never executed.

Davis supported Smith while in opposition but has since changed his view after winning the seat of government, now granting RCI approval to develop the land.

One of Davis’ cabinet ministers, Glenys Hanna-Martin said she still opposes the RCI project and has come out in support of Smith as developers prepare to break ground, “almost immediately.” She stands by her statement when she accused the Minnis administration in 2021 of “kicking a Bahamian developer to the curb” in favor of the cruise line.

Smith said he was proud of Hanna-Martin’s support for his project, “and not being a hypocrite but staying true to her word.”

Hanna-Martin’s opinion goes against cabinet procedures and Opposition Leader Michael Pintard has called for her resignation since cabinet ministers are expected to present a unified front based on the West Minister’s principle of collective responsibility. But Davis hit back expressing “full confidence” in Hanna-Martin, adding that she did not violate the ministerial code.

Smith then lashed out at Davis in another social media post, “On the defensive! Lay with dogs, pick up fleas.”

Davis requested that Smith resubmit an application for his project.

Davis’ Pick for National Security is Worrisome

Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe is among the newly appointed members in Prime Minister Philip Davis’ cabinet and that’s troubling.

His appointment has raised eyebrows since Munroe is a criminal defense lawyer who has gained a reputation for protecting society’s worst.

His career has complicated matters for the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

Munroe and his partner, Jomo Campbell, the new Minister of State for Legal Affairs have defended notorious gang leaders and murderers who terrorize the Bahamian society.

Criminals often obtain the services of Munroe and Campbell while being investigated by police for killings. The outcome is usually an acquittal and they are released to commit other killings. And the pattern continues.

Munroe’s name has become synonymous with the representation of hardened criminals.

He has publicly criticized the police force and its duty to carry out law and order.

However, Davis lauded Munroe at the swearing-in ceremony, saying he will “bring balance and fairness to the way the state interacts with the people.”

Munroe said he will waste no time to push for inquests into police shootings.

“A speedy system benefits not only the families who say something went wrong but officers whose careers may be languished and held up while these matters drag on and that will be a matter I will be discussing,” he told reporters after the ceremony.

Reports are that Munroe’s relationship with the Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle is quite frosty due to his prior stands and criticisms levied at the organization.

In a social media post, some members of the public have expressed concerns regarding the appointment of Munroe as National Security Minister.

Cherneka Brown said, “He helps criminals out of jail and now the minister of national security…?

Brent Gibson said, “Gangsterism, who makes a criminal lawyer, a national security minister?”

Liz Jones said, “He will bring strife and turmoil to the police force and other security forces.”

It will be interesting to see how Munroe carries out his duty as the minister with responsibility for national security, his answers for the plaguing crime problem, and whether or not he can balance his relationship and defense of criminals with the rules and laws that govern the country.

House Speaker Gets No Sympathy From the Public

As House Speaker Halson Moultrie awaits for government to address a litany of concerns at his office, such as no running water, no bathroom facility, a leaking roof, and the presence of moulds, the public shows no pity.

In recent days, House Speaker Halson Moultrie decried the condition at his office, warning that if the government does not address his concerns, he would “turn in the keys,” by the end of October.

How did that come about?

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis addressed a structural issue at Cabinet saying that his government hopes to relocate soon due to a leaking roof at Charlotte’s House, as the building where ministers meet, has already been condemned.

Moultrie then raised his concerns and rebuked the government for overlooking his office. He said if the executive branch will not work in his best interest, he will not be attending the office space.

“A man should never respect any other man above himself. So God is not a respect of persons. I will not sit and accept such a circumstance,” he said.

Should we feel sorry for Moultrie?

Some social media users showed no empathy for Moutrie, saying Bahamians have been dealing with situations like his for many years.

Shane McDonald said, “I’m glad that’s happening to him. Now he will see just how the Bahamian people feel.”

Scott Lowe said, “How many Bahamians have to walk to the corner pump to get water every day and this man wants fancy kitchen and private bathroom, all because he holds a ceremonial position in a farce of the government.”

One person identified as Monique Pratt-Ferguson said, “Ok, now it’s a big deal. Persons have been working in government facilities for years in those conditions. Now it hits home, it’s a problem.”

Why Davis Refuses to Attend Meeting With PM and PAHO

Opposition leader Philip Davis said he nor members of the Progressive Liberal Party will attend a COVID-19 special meeting planned with Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, PAHO representative Dr. Esther de Gourville, and the Government’s Health Consultant Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis–although they were invited.

The special meeting, announced in Dr. Minnis’ national address to the nation on Sunday, was scheduled for today, as the government strategizes a plan to combat the exponential increase of COVID-19 cases in New Providence and Abaco.

Why is the PLP not attending?

In a press conference, Davis revealed that he refuses to attend as he wants all PLP members to be in attendance. He said the invitation was only extended to three members of his organization, although Minnis said, “the leader of the opposition and his team have been invited.”

Davis said, “Three persons are not my team.”

Davis referred to this as conflicting information, thus he rearranged a separate meeting with PAHO for next Monday, October 12th.

What this means

Dr. Minnis in his address on Sunday, hinted at a possible lockdown for areas of the Bahamas where the number of cases continues to rise, adding that the meeting with key stakeholders will outline specific strategies for the way forward.

Minnis purposed that after the meetings, he will brief the nation on the recommendations of our health experts, especially on the way forward for New Providence and Abaco.

However, if Davis and his team are absent from the meetings, they miss an opportunity to problem-solve, discuss, and come to conclusions by collaborating together, particularly if a national lockdown is announced.

Featured Image: The Tribune