Wednesday, June 7, 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.

‘I Do Not Know’: Prime Minister Davis Addresses Governing Party’s Tie to FTX

Following weeks of speculations on the governing party’s connection to FTX, the billionaire exchange headquartered in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Philip Davis addressed speculations that the Progressive Liberal Party received money from the exchange.

“Not to my knowledge,” he said when reporters asked whether or not FTX donated to the party’s campaign in 2021 or whether or not anyone in the party took any money from FTX.

He clarified, “I do not hold any wallets. In fact, I’m agnostic to it.”

Davis said he does not know if any Cabinet minister held digital wallets with the crypto giant.

“I do not know that.”

Why it matters

Former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is known for his altruism and has given away millions of dollars to international and national charities.

US politicians have also received millions of dollars in campaign donations from ‘the crypto genius.’

Sam Bankman-Fried is thought to have close ties to the Progressive Liberal Party. The Opposition has questioned the governing party, asking, whether or not the PLP accepted donations from Bankman-Fried, did the party hold digital wallets with FTX, and whether it did its due diligence to screen the company before its operation in the Bahamas.

The big picture

FTX, valued at 32 billion dollars, filed for bankruptcy last week. And Sam Bankman-Fried stepped down as CEO.

John Ray, the man known for overseeing the Enron scandal in the US, is the new CEO of FTX.

The collapse has caused chaos in the financial market. However, Bankman-Fried, now a crypto villain, says he is still working to recoup customer funds, purported to be billions of dollars lost in the collapse.

FTX has a big hole in its balance sheet and owes its top 50 creditors alone, some 3.1 billion dollars.

State of Play

Davis’ expressions like “Not to my knowledge” and “I do not know” may not be outright denials as reported by some local media. It can mean that he is not completely certain or the information has not been officially presented to him.


Davis Disappoints With $6.50 an Hour Minimum Wage Offer in Cost of Living Crisis

The minimum wage increase was a long-awaited promise of the New Day government and when Prime Minister Philip Davis announced its final decision on Tuesday in a national address, the public took to social media to express disappointment in the scant increase.

The country’s minimum wage is expected to increase to $260 from the $210, which was in place since 2015. It is a raise of $6.50 an hour, the lowest renumeration that employers can legally pay their workers.

Davis announced that it will be retroactive going back to July and will begin in January 2023.

With the exponential increases in goods and services, many believe the increase by $50 will have little to no effect on boosting incomes and improving the welfare of workers at the low end of the ladder.

Beverly Sands said, “If he thinks $260 a week can sustain a family with the prices then let him put himself and the other MPs on that weekly salary. See if they can survive for a year or two.”

LaDawn Russel asked, “He ain’t shame?” While Natalie Duncombe joined in the chorus, “Is this a joke?”

Levelle Ferguson called it “chump change when the cost of living is higher than a week’s salary.”


Many people believe the minimum wage should have increased to at least $300.

 “He got to be living in a dream if he thinks $260 weekly is substantial. After tax and NIB, you’ll be living off the same old minimum wage of $210. He might as well raise it to $300,” Stephona Forbes said.

Sharee Neymour suggested $400 as the new minimum wage. “If the government is serious about affecting change, they could come up with more than that [260].”


Some people, however, believe Davis’ announcement should be celebrated.

Nicole Brown said she is “proud” of Davis. “Good job,” she said.

And Dave Beckford, Vice President of the Bahamas General Workers Union said, “Congratulations.  A little closer to liveable wages.  This for the workers. A little increase is better than no increase.”

Lots of Bahamians are Angry with Christopher Columbus

The discussion of Christopher Columbus’ has been reignited in the daily discourse following the destruction of the statue at Government House on Mt Fritzwilliam on Saturday.

The actions of the suspect who seems deranged, have stirred angry emotions toward Columbus and have garnered social media support.

Since 1492, Columbus was hailed as the discoverer of the Bahamas and the new world. He has been hailed a hero and still plays an integral part in the Social Studies program in our educational system.

More than 500 years later, some people have shifted focus to the atrocities Columbus inflicted on the native Bahamians, identified as the Lucayans who were eventually decimated from our islands.

Bahamians like Father Sebastian Campbell have led the way to abolish the memory of Columbus from our national holidays and remove any replicas from our public sphere.

Anger toward colonialists like Columbus increased after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in the United States when the issue of racism arose, as statues that symbolized slavery and racism were torn down in some countries around the world, while some were removed by governments.

Though some people signed petitions for the Bahamas government to remove Columbus from Mt Fritzwilliam, there was never any lawless act to attempt to destroy it, until the man who identified himself as Michael the Arch Angel, drew a sledgehammer and extricated the arm and foot of the Columbus statue.

Some social media posters erupted in applause.

Fringe groups like the third party Coalition of Independents looking to be included in the national discourse said it will provide bail and a lawyer for the suspect accused of damage to government property.

It remains to be seen if the government will remove statues of colonialism like Christopher Columbus.  Last year, a strong supporter of the PLP Latrae Rahming who now works in the office of the Press Secretary said his party always advocated for the statue’s removal and the quest for removal was supported by Party Chairman Fred Mitchell.

However, newly appointed Prime Minister Philip Davis told the Nassau Guardian on Tuesday that his government will determine whether the statue will be repaired or replaced, while emphasizing that he is “concerned when I see acts of disobedience that result in the destruction of public property.”

If we begin with Columbus, where do we end? Our country has a colonial past. Our history is colonialism and slavery. How far do we go?

We should use them as reminders as to how far we have come and place them in the proper context of the period in which they lived.

Historian Gail Saunders agrees that it is a complex issue saying only that Columbus’ statue should be in place to remember the Lucayans who were here before his arrival.

Ironclad Press Rules Imposed by Press Secretary Will Make it Harder to Hold Davis’ Administration Accountable

With only two weeks in the seat as press secretary, former Journalist and News Director Clint Watson imposed stringent rules for the press that will make it harder for reporters to hold the new government accountable.

The new rules include guidelines for special interviews, scheduled interviews and accreditation.

Here are the new guidelines

  1. Absolutely no interviews should take place while the Prime Minister or a Cabinet Minister is attending an event unless they are approved by the press secretary.
  2. Random Cabinet Office interviews will be discontinued.
  3. Only accredited journalists and staff will be permitted into Cabinet and OPM briefings.
  4. Reporters requesting specific responses to issues, should communicate with the Press Secretary Office by 6 pm the latest, the night before the briefing.
  5. All requests for interviews and comments from the Prime Minister and Cabinet will be facilitated through the press secretary.
  6. Reporters without a boom stand will not be permitted to participate in interviews.
  7. The press secretary or an officer from the OPM will advise at the event if the prime minister will be taking interviews and the parameters of such an interview. Failure to comply could result in credentials being reconsidered from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister press pool.
  8. The dress code should be business attire unless otherwise specified.
  9. A press officer will indicate the final question toward the end of the briefing, no further questions should be asked thereafter.
  10. Accreditation forms should be filled out by media houses and submitted to the Office of the Press Secretary for approval.

These hard rules would allow Davis and his Cabinet ministers to dodge reporters’ questions and evade responses to pressing and controversial matters.

Most newsworthy stories come when reporters ask questions on the sidelines of a public event. The powers of the press secretary as indicated by these rules, show that the new government desires to suppress information and limit what the public knows.

Watson, as a former journalist, knows this but has quickly changed positions since acquiring the new role.

In his former position as host of Beyond the Headlines, Watson consistently condemned the former administration, accusing them of avoiding the press. Now, he has created strict rules to silence the press, punish the media if they do not adhere, and ensure Davis and his ministers say less to the public.

Why does he see the need to protect them from the public? Why should he determine who gets access to public servants?

Watson’s role should be to manage and organize communications activities on behalf of the new government.

These rules are a return to the Pindling era when news media was heavily restricted.

Former Health Minister Duane Sands expressed his displeasure with the rules.

Journalists have taken to social media to decry the new press guidelines.


Based on the reading of the rulings, journalists could have credentials revoked. This could have an adverse effect on the public who wants to hold the government accountable.



The Opening of Parliament Looks Different from Past Years

The Opening of Parliament looks significantly different from previous years as members of parliament took their seats in the relocated House of Assembly, before hundreds of Bahamians.

Traditionally, the Opening of Parliament is held in Rawson Square, but Parliament has been relocated to the Baha Mar Convention Center citing the threat of adverse weather, the demolition of the Churchill Building and seating limitations due to social distancing protocols.

The pomp and pageantry were on full display as parliamentarians arrived with their spouses, family members and supporters.

Prime Minister Philip Davis, Opposition Leader Hubert Minnis and other members of parliament took their oath of office in Baha Mar as Governor-General C.A Smith inspected the colour guard comprising of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Guard.

Proceedings for the Lower and Upper Chambers were held in different rooms where Bamboo Town MP Patricia Deveaux was appointed the House Speaker and Senator Lashell Adderley was appointed Senate President, respectively.

Members from both chambers soon recessed and walked to the main room to hear the Speech from the Throne read by Smith, who outlined the new government’s policies and agenda which include the reduction of Value Added Tax to 10 percent, the building of two new hospitals in New Providence and Grand Bahama, amendment of the debt management plan, implementation of renewable energy, improve greater food security, introduction of regulations for the framework for the cannabis industry, introduction of measures to reintroduce prisoners into the workforce, expungement of the records of young people caught with small amounts of marijuana and the increase of the minimum wage.

The big picture

The opening of Parliament follows the September 16 early election when the Progressive Liberal Party won 32 seats in the House of Assembly. The FNM became the Opposition winning 7 seats.


Meet Davis’ Remaining Cabinet Members

Eleven cabinet ministers were sworn in on Wednesday, totalling 21 Cabinet members to be a part of Prime Minister Philip Davis’ administration.

  • Obie Wilchcombe: Social Services and Urban Development
  • Keith Bell: Labor and Immigration
  • Vaughn Miller: Environment and Natural Resources
  • Jobeth Colby-Davis: Transport and Housing
  • Ginger Moxey: Grand Bahama
  • Mario Moxey: Youth, Sports and Culture
  • Basil McIntosh: State for the Environment
  • Myles Laroda: State in the Office of the Prime Minister
  • Pia Glover: State for Public Service
  • Lisa Rahming: State for Social Services
  • Zane Lightbourne: State for Education and Technical and Vocational Training


Meet Davis’ Cabinet Members

Eight members of the Cabinet were sworn in on Monday afternoon to serve as ministers in the Davis-led administration.

Prime Minister Philip Davis said they will “deliver the party’s promise of a new day.”

  1. Fred Mitchell–Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is an outspoken member of the PLP and was party chairman. He served in the Perry Christie administration in the same position in 2012. When the PLP lost in 2017, he lost his seat but was appointed PLP senator.
  2. Glennys Hanna-Martin–Minister of Education and Vocational Training. She has been a longtime member of the PLP, having served in the Christie administration in 2012 as Minister of Transport and Aviation. The party lost in 2017, but she retained her seat and was one of four PLPs who returned to the Parliament as the opposition.
  3. Michael Darville–Minister of Health. He was the MP for Pineridge and Minister of Grand Bahama in 2012 in the Christie administration. When his party lost, he became a PLP senator.
  4. Michael Halkitis–Minister of Economic Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate. He lost to the FNM in the 2021 election. He served in the Christie administration as the Minister of State for Finance in 2012.
  5. Clay Sweeting–Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs. He ran against FNM MP Ricky Martin in 2017 and lost. The fisherman was then appointed a PLP senator in the Upper Chamber.
  6. Alfred Sears–Minister of Works and Utilities. He was the Member of Parliament for Fort Charlotte from 2000 to 2012 and served in the Christie administration. He lost his seat to the FNM in 2017. He once served as Minister of Education and as Attorney General in the Christie administration.
  7. Wayne Munroe–Minister of National Security. He is a prominent lawyer. He ran in 2017 for the PLP but lost to the FNM. He was also a former DNA member.
  8. Jomo Campbell–Minister of State for Legal Affairs. He is new to politics and is believed to be a lawyer in Wayne Munroe’s office.

Davis said his Cabinet “will move with urgency, that this moment requires.”

Governor-General C.A Smith asked that the country “set aside differences until next five years.” He added, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Let’s unite and together make a better Bahamas.”

Davis Sworn in as 5th Prime Minister: I Will Lift the Veil of Secrecy

Philip Edward Davis became the 5th Bahamian prime minister on Saturday following a general election where the Progressive Liberal Party won the majority of seats in the House of Assembly.

The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Bahamar Resort, under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic where the 70-year-old was granted his instruments of appointment, in front of a crowd.

He enters government exactly two days after the country’s early election.

Prime Minister Philip Davis at his Swearing-In Ceremony

Davis was sworn in by Governor General C.A Smith during which he promised to be transparent with all government agendas.

“We’re going to listen. We’re going to consult. We’re going to bring people together. This is the best way to make progress as a nation. No leader and no government should be isolated from the people.

“I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy from that which has gone before us so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent and those who offered them are accountable.”

Davis continued, “We will govern in the interest of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few. We will act in ways that will build trust between the government and the Bahamian people.

“We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law and ensure everyone is treated fairly so that there is not one rule for one set of people, and another rule for another set of people.

“There is much work to be done,  but I know that if we work together, we can succeed and build a kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamt for us,” he said.

Davis took the oath of office on Friday and immediately made changes to the Emergency order, extending curfew to the hours of 11:59 pm to 5 am.

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper will be sworn in at 2 pm.