Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Pintard Stuns With Win to End Minnis’ Reign

Marco City MP Michael Pintard won the leadership position of the Free National Movement following its one-day convention that saw three candidates go head-to-head to vie for the post.

In an exuberant gathering at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Saturday, hundreds of delegates convened to cast their vote.

At the end, Pintard was declared the winner. In his victory speech, he expressed gratitude to former prime ministers and his supporters.

“…By the will of God, we will be back on 2026.”

To former parliamentarians, he encouraged, “It’s about the journey, make connections and change the course of people’s lives.”

Pintard promised that as leader of the Opposition, he will be careful in his deliberation. “We will speak in a measured way to get the result we need.”

Pintard, the favourite to win the post, competed with Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis and East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson.

Pintard won with 297 of the votes. Thompson received 103 votes and Lewis got 44 votes.

The three Grand Bahama parliamentarians made up the seven parliamentarians who retained their seats in the early election in September.

Marco City MP Michael Pintard with Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham

Pintard garnered support from former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and former St Anne’s MP Brent Symonette, and some of his former parliamentarians and Cabinet members in the Hubert Minnis led administration.

Minnis did not reveal who he voted for but said he will support the winner, in hopes that the party regain its footing to win the next general election.

Who Will It Be – The Poet, Head Deacon or Olympian?

The nomination process for elections of the next leader of the Free National Movement closed on Thursday with three candidates vying for the top spot.

By Thursday morning, all of the candidates officially filed nomination papers to contest the leadership of the party–Michael Pintard (author of Still Standing which is a collection of poems that focuses on social inequality and injustice); Kwasi Thompson (serves as a head deacon at Calvary Temple Assemblies of God); and Iram Lewis ( a two-time Olympian 4×100 meter relay runner).

Former Cabinet Minister Pintard was the last candidate nominated for the position. He entered the party’s headquarters with scores of supporters which included Former Ambassador and House Speaker Alvin Smith and former members of parliament including Donald Saunders, Miriam Emmanuel and Travis Robinson.

“We are going into our election animated and spirited in competition and we will emerge united and resolve to function as a whole organization, committed to the development of the Bahamian people,” Pintard said.

If he is elected, Pintard said he will repair the dysfunctions in the party, unite supporters, reignite excitement within the party, collaborate with the government when it presents a “sensible” proposal that improves the lives of Bahamians and work with private and religious segments of society.

Pintard said if he is unsuccessful in his bid, he will support, “what’s best for the party.”

The big picture

The party holds a one-day convention on November 27, to fill the leadership post. Only the position of party leader will be contested. Elections for other positions will be in February.

The party was defeated at the polls on September 16 and is looking to replace former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis whom many feel was partly responsible for the party’s loss.

Thompson, the former Minister of State for Finance filed his nomination papers on Tuesday. He is believed to be backed by Minnis.  The party’s founding member Maurice Moore and the wife of FNM’s founding father Cecil Wallace-Whitfield threw their support behind Thompson.

Lewis, former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, filed his nomination papers on Wednesday saying he is in it for the long haul and promised to be a good listener.

Why it matters

The new leader of the party will lead the Opposition in the House and will be responsible for creating a strong team to hold the government accountable.

Unity of the factions within the party depends on who is the newly elected leader, whom supporters trust to lead the party into the next General election.

Who Will be the FNM’s Young Party Leader? We Have a Hint

After the Free National Movement suffered a tumultuous defeat at the electoral poll, the party is seeking new leadership as it transitions into a new phase as the Official Opposition.

A few names have made the rounds including St Barnabas MP Shandendon Cartwright, Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis, Marco City MP Michael Pintard and East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson. They are young to middle-aged politicians in their 40’s and 50’s which is quite unusual in Bahamian politics.

Only Lewis has officially announced his bid, stating on Wednesday, that the party’s defeat at the polls last month is a clear sign that “it is time for a change” as the party “needs to rebuild and reconnect to its base.” He is adamant that he is the right man for the job.”

Fifty-six-year-old Lewis is new politics and is currently serving his second term in the House of Assembly, serving as Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture for seven months after the resignation of former Seabreeze MP Laneisha Rolle.

Pintard, a 46-year-old former cabinet minister who has served in two ministries, has said nothing about his bid for the leadership post, but insiders said he is contending for the post as he works to gain support from the 500 delegates.

While on Beyond the Headlines two weeks ago though, Pintard did not deny that he is running but described himself as “collaborative and inclusive,” when asked what qualifies him for the leadership post.

The public awaits his official announcement on his wish to contend the position.

Forty-five-year-old Kwasi Thompson, the former minister of state for finance, is also a possible contender for the FNM leadership post. He is said to be backed by former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, who is seeking to pair him with Senator and former North Abaco MP Darren Henfield for the deputy post if Minnis does not get the support of delegates to run again.

Cartwright was asked by reporters if he will contest for leadership of the party, he told the Nassau Guardian that he was “seriously considering” the position.

“Anytime there is a loss for a political party, there are always conversations about renewal and transition.”

However, he told the Tribune, that the bid for leadership could include a run for other leadership posts.

“Remember, leadership is the leader, the deputy leader, the chairman of the party,” he said.

But reports suggest that Cartwright could be announced as deputy leader to Pintard.

When asked who he will support for party leader, Cartwright said he will make it known at the party convention on November 27.

Cartwright, Lewis, Pintard and Thompson are the four of seven who have won their seats in the snap election on September 16 and are considered as ‘new blood.’

Pintard seems to be the strongest contender in the race.

FNM to Pick New Leader on November 27 as Minnis Stays Quiet on Next Move

The Free National Movement will hold a one-day convention on November 27 to choose the party’s next leader. This comes after former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis refused to say whether or not he will accept a nomination for leader of the party at its next convention, if someone moves a motion on the floor.

Why it matters

Following the party’s loss at the polls on September 16, the FNM’s council members voted to keep Minnis as the Opposition Leader until November, when the party can choose a new leader. A date was not finalized until now.

However, in a recent interview with Eye Witness News, Minnis did not emphatically rule out a bid to contest the leadership position at the next convention.

The big picture

The FNM retained only 7 seats in the House of Assembly. The Westminister’s system of governance dictates that a prime minister should resign following his party’s defeat at the electoral polls.

State of play

No one has officially presented themselves for the leadership post, but insiders say Marco City MP Michael Pintard, East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson and Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis have shown an interest in the position.

Minnis Stays Until…November

Former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis will lead the official opposition when Parliament meets again, following a vote to consider a new leader for the Free National Movement after a crushing defeat at the electoral poll.

Party Chairman Carl Culmer said Minnis will stay on as leader until November when the party holds a convention. Minnis will not contest the leadership post at the convention.

The big picture

Nearly 300 members of the council met on Wednesday evening to decide whether or not Minnis will stay on as leader when the House of Assembly meets.

This meeting follows a 17-12 vote by the executive board for Minnis to remain leader of the party until November.

Minnis won his Killarney seat, but his party lost, only retaining 7 seats.

Minnis’ fate has become the topic of discussion since the party’s loss. In 2012, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham resigned his position as FNM leader and as parliamentarian after his party lost the election.

Who are the possible contenders?

Former Cabinet Minister and MP for Marco City Michael Pintard, Former Minister of State for Finance Kwasi Thompson and MP for St Barnabas Shandendon Cartwright all of whom have won their seats, are the favourites to succeed Minnis.

Thompson: PLP Proposed VAT Reduction Will Destabilize Economy

Minister of State for Finance Kwasi Thompson is hitting back at PLP Chairman Chester Cooper, asserting that Cooper’s claim to reduce Value Added Tax, if elected, is “rank populist politicking.”

Thompson said to reduce VAT when the Bahamas is has been hit with an economic falloff will cause the Bahamas to lose more than $100 million.

Why it matters

Cooper unveiled his party’s economic plan on Sunday stating that the PLP will reduce VAT to 10 percent for one year then review the rate after the year is expired.

The big picture

7.5 percent VAT was implemented by the PLP in 2015, after reconsidering its original proposal of 15 percent. The PLP’s reasoning has been that the introduction of a VAT system will increase government revenue at a time when it was declining.

Then State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis said it was a “needed reform” to “protect the economy.”

When the Free National Movement came to power, it increased VAT to 12 percent but removed the tax from breadbasket items.

Thompson says the proposed reduction will destabilize the economy

“The Opposition’s plan would lead to a dramatic fall-off in revenue likely in excess of $100 million during their proposed 12 month period, at a time when the country’s fiscal resources are under tremendous strain and the needs for government to support social and economic programmes are even more pronounced.

“The Government cannot operate by trial and error. The 12 month period will only destabilize the economy causing the PLP to have no choice but to return VAT to 12% the following year or increasing to 15%. The country needs stability and consistency.”

“A 2% cut in VAT does not guarantee that additional spending needed and will not be sufficient to achieve the amount of economic activity to replace the loss in revenue. It would be impossible for the Government to maintain its spending levels with that level of loss in revenue. It is completely irresponsible.”

Govt Extends Tax Concessions for Grand Bahama and Abaco to June 2021

The government will extend the tax concessions under the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (Special Economic Recovery Zone) for Abaco and Grand Bahama to June 2021.

Why it matters

  • Many of the provisions were set to expire on December 31, 2020.
  • The local sale and importation of household furniture, furnishings, and appliances will continue to be tax-free.
  • The tax relief measures were designated for Grand Bahama and the Abacos following the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Dorian.

What Minister of State for Finance says

  • Senator Kwasi Thompson said, “To further assist persons and businesses who are still recovering, and are now grappling further with COVID-19, the government has agreed to extend a number of tax relief measures to June 2021.”
  • He noted that the government also recognizes that rebuilding takes time, and the reconstruction of damaged homes continues.
  • Furthermore, the government is extending the opportunity to receive a discount on the VAT payable on the sale of real property for transactions valued up to $500,000.
  • He said the government recognizes as well that vehicles that have been ordered may not arrive in the country by the end of December. The government will honour the current tax concession on replacement vehicles, provided that there is documentary evidence that it has been shipped by December 31, 2020, and provided that it arrives by April 30, 2021.

State of play

  • Government revenues are down by as much as 50 percent, but the government says it is ensuring that it still does as much as possible to cushion the economic blow for islands experiencing hardship.

Minnis Taps Thompson to Assist Him in Finance Ministry; Davis Disapproves

After promising to appoint a minister to the post of finance minister since the resignation of Peter Turnquest, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said he will continue to serve in the position for the remainder of the term.

Minnis was sworn in as interim minister of finance last week, saying he will make a substantive appointment. However, Sunday during the national address, Minnis says he will remain in the post for longer than expected but will be surrounded by a team of experts.

Minnis’ new post met with opposition by Philip Davis

Opposition Leader Philip Davis issued a statement following Minnis’ announcement on Sunday. Davis doubts that Minnis is suited for the post as minister of finance.

Davis said, “No one in the Bahamas believes that Hubert Minnis is qualified to act as Minister of Finance.

“He has admitted in private that he is no good at figures. The fact that he is choosing to remain as Minister of Finance is an admission that no FNM MP is qualified to occupy that vital position even as the nation faces an extremely serious economic and fiscal crisis,” Davis said.

Minnis to be assisted by a junior finance minister

PM Minnis will be assisted by a team including Senator Kwasi Thompson, who will be the Minister of State for Finance.

Turning Grand Bahama into a Tech Hub - Government - News
Senator Kwasi Thompson. Photo credit: Bahamas Gov

Over the past nearly four years Thompson has been Minister of State for Grand Bahama,  promoting digital technology and training.

Minnis said Thompson will now focus on the economic needs and recovery of Grand Bahama, Family Island development, and the ongoing digital transformation of the Bahamas and the government.

Thompson, in a statement, said his areas of focus are the Government’s Digital Transformation, Cashless Initiatives, Ease of Doing Business, Digitizing the Investment process, promoting the Digital Economy, and E-Commerce Development.

He said, “As the new Minister of State, we will continue to consult broadly with business stakeholders, civil society, consumer groups and the general public to ensure the policy positions of the Government reflect the realities on the ground and are responsive to the needs of our citizenry. The public can feel free to write the Ministry and to provide the policy feedback that will be vital as we move towards recovery.”

Featured Image: Bahamas Information Services

Grand Bahama Extends 2-Week Lockdown Amid COVID-19 Climb

Grand Bahama’s lockdown was extended to 5am Wednesday, August 19th, announced Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson.

Thompson said during a press conference on Thursday, “An extension of the lockdown is not something that would have been preferred, but it is absolutely necessary. We must work together to stop the spread of the virus on Grand Bahama.”

The island’s current two-week lockdown, July 23 to August 7, ends tomorrow morning at 5am.

But Thompson said the extension is an effort to slow and control community spread of the COVID-19 pandemic on Grand Bahama, as 336 confirmed cases were recorded for the island as of Wednesday.

This means that Grand Bahama now falls under the same lockdown order as the rest of the country, which went into effect on Tuesday evening.

 Coordinator of Grand Bahama Health Services COVID-19 Task Force Dr. Frank Bartlett said five positive Covid-19 cases are hospitalized, approximately 900 people in quarantine and 310 people in isolation. To date, 1,038 swabs have been done.

Bartlett said public health measures and social distancing measures along with lockdowns have proven effective

Outlining the current assessment, he noted that a downward trend has not yet been established.

He said, “There is still no strict compliance with the public health and social distancing measures in place; daily, patients are accessing the healthcare system complaining of symptoms compatible with Covid; challenges with response to increased hospitalizations impacted by hospitalizations for Covid suspects are surpassing non-Covid patients; ICU bed capacity has been at 100% for the past month with non-Covid patients, and if we were to see an increase in sicker or critical patients the healthcare system will be overwhelmed,” Dr. Bartlett said.

Dr. Bartlett added that challenges are also present with the manning of multiple sites, and patients in the second wave are being hospitalized for longer periods when compared to the first wave.

It is because of these factors, he said, it has been recommended that the lockdown period be extended.

 People should not be leaving their homes unless they must, and even with the lockdown there are still too many cars on the streets.

An evaluation of the impact of the restrictions is made after the completion of one incubation period of 14 days. Based on the changes in clinical indicators (hospitalization rate, ICU admissions, numbers of positive cases), a determination is made as to whether other measures are required to curtail the increase in positive COVID-19 cases.