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.
Heads of Government from Caribbean nations and regional leaders including John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for climate change and Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, are in the Bahamas to attend 44th CARICOM meeting where Prime Minister Philip Davis serves as Chair of the Conference.
High on the agenda are discussions on Haiti, migration and food security.
“The turmoil and suffering there (Haiti) continue to worsen,” Davis said at the opening ceremony on Wednesday night. “As a near neighbour, The Bahamas is under great strain, and many other countries in our region are also heavily impacted.”
“We should learn from the failures of past efforts to help, rather than use those disappointments as an excuse for inaction. I pray that we can agree a series of concrete steps to help move towards a solution for the Haitian people, and the region as a whole.”
A 58-year-old Carmichael Road man was arrested Wednesday, held for questioning on threats to kill Prime Minister Philip Davis.
Police said this is still an ongoing investigation.
This comes after Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander suggested that Lincoln Bain Leader of the fragmented political group Coalition of Independents and his supporters have spewed incendiary comments possibly leading to the criminal threat.
Police have not revealed the name of the individual in custody or his connection to any political group, but Bain has since insisted he is not responsible for inciting death threats against Davis.
“I am not responsible for the words of any adult,” a defensive Bain insisted in a social media video post after Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander in a press conference stated that the COI may be behind calls made to Davis’ office on Friday.
Bain and his supporters held a protest on Wednesday in Parliament Square protesting the influx of Haitian migrants, in which they blamed Davis and his government for not doing enough to curtail the immigration problem. One supporter is even seen swearing at Davis as he made his way to the House of Assembly under heavy police guard. And another man shouts for the police to “assassinate” him.
Bain insisted he was not present when the remarks were made. “It took place before I was there. It is not my duty to control anyone’s words.”
Because of two anonymous calls to kill the prime minister, Fernander said the Royal Bahamas Police Force would beef up security to ensure Davis’ safety.
“The threat level is high, based on the calls,” Fernander said as he insisted that the COI is “in line of inquiry,” as authorities conduct investigations
“Lincoln has to control his supporters.”
Fernander promised a meeting with Bain who seems to attract a growing number of Bahamians feeling marginalized by society.
Bain ran in the 2021 election and hopes to lead his group to the general election in 2024, pushing his far-right ideologies and extremist views on immigration.
In his quest to create ‘a new Bahamas,’ some of his actions have raised eyebrows.
For almost a year, the public awaited the outcome of the investigation against Transport and Housing Minister Jobeth Coleby-Davis, who was accused of hitting an officer with her vehicle at a Carnival event.
Since politicians are rarely prosecuted in the Bahamas, many predicted that no charges will be brought against the sitting member of parliament even though the police claimed it was investigating the matter.
Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander announced the case’s closure on Friday.
A Corporal of the Royal Police Force was allegedly struck with a vehicle driven by Housing Minister Jobeth Coleby-Davis at Carnival Road March when he tried to prevent her from entering an area that was cordoned off on West Bay Street in the area of St Albans Drive.
Coleby-Davis was driving a silver SUV when the police officer told her that he was instructed not to let any vehicles through, to which she shouted, “Do you know who I am!’ as she attempted to go around the barricades and hit him before he moved from her pathway. A witness along with friends claimed to have seen the event around 10 am and filed a police report.
The officer was reportedly injured to the leg and received medical help at the hospital.
Coleby-Davis denied the allegations outside of Parliament stating that she would never react in the manner described since she was with her daughter at the time, hinting that she was politically targeted. “I stand by that and my grandmother always taught me that the last laugh is the best one and so it’ll be cleared up.”
Commissioner of Police at the time, Paul Rolle said the Royal Bahamas Police Force was investigating the matter and his assistant commissioner was finding out “exactly what happened.”
“We are dealing with that from within. I don’t have a timeline. Whenever that is finished, I don’t know that it’s something I will be discussing so much in the media, I don’t know what the outcome is going to be,” Rolle said.
Pressed by former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis who was asking for an update on the matter, Prime Minister Philip Davis denied there was ever an official investigation into the alleged incident during a debate in the House of Assembly.
He summed it up to be an internal inquiry to determine who was telling the truth, and nothing more.
By this time, a video to exonerate her, circulated on social media reportedly showing the incident. However, Police Staff Association Executive Chairman Ricardo Walkes said the video does not prove anything since it does not show what happened to the officer before filming began. “The video that’s going around shows what happened afterward, not what happened before the officer called and received backup,” Walkes said.
Former Police Commissioner Paul Rolle said he directed the incident be turned over to the complaints branch of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
“We were trying to get Jobeth, Minister Coleby to give her statement. Because there were statements made in the public domain, but none was made, no complaint, no official complaint was made.
“The officer’s alleging that he was struck. And I think she was making some allegations as well.
“I want to hear what her allegations were. I said let me take myself out of it.
“They do the investigation and then make the recommendation to me.
“I do want to believe that she did make an allegation. Like I said, the officer was out sick. So, we…can’t proceed until he is certified to return to work to be interviewed,” Rolle said.
Newly appointed Commissioner Clayton Fernander said the matter is closed and the investigations show no evidence that the police officer was struck by Coleby-Davis. “… We deal with facts and evidence. That’s what we deal with and that’s what you need to go to court.”
The officer will reportedly return to his duties as an officer of the RBPF.
Prime Minister Philip Davis left the Bahamas for Angola on Tuesday after a hasty slate of travels around the world which is another opportunity to play up the climate change effects on the Bahamas.
The trip to South Africa for African, Caribbean and Pacific States, focusing on the challenges of climate change including economic diversification, peace and security challenges, comes at a difficult time, and challenges Davis to balance his attention on ongoing domestic issues like inflation and high crime rate with his international fight for developed countries to compensate the Bahamas for the effects of climate change.
Davis would be hundreds of miles away from the Bahamas as murders increase to 11 percent higher than last year, workers protest for increased salaries, prices soar and the public complains of poor road infrastructure. He would be in Angola at the 10th Summit of the OACPS (Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States), while the Opposition Leader Michael Pintard calls for the resignation of his Works Minister Alfred Sears who admitted after denying it, that he received but dismissed recommendations to lock in oil prices for lower cost of fuel for the Bahamas Power and Light.
And through all of it, Davis seeks to win on the international stage among allies who carry no political influence on the world stage and whose concerns might, in the end, be ignored as the world focuses on inflation, rising fuel costs, food shortages, conflict and supply chain issues.
When he returns on December 11th Davis will attempt to play up his political victories and smooth over prickly domestic issues as he plans another trip out of the country in the name of climate change.
Featured Image: Angola Parliament
FTX, the 32-billion dollar exchange, with its headquarters in the Bahamas has made a mess of the crypto market since its collapse and has now become a global conversation.
As scrutiny arises, Prime Minister Philip Davis who has welcomed former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried to the Bahamas has remained mum on the fiasco, only to say “those who care about our country’s reputation” should tread carefully when they speak about the complex matter involving FTX which he says is still “unfolding.”
“There is a reason that the Bahamas won international praise for the approach we have taken, to date, on digital assets, and there is also plenty of room to have a healthy debate about the industry, but this is a story that has the world’s attention, and those who use it to mislead and score cheap political points are no patriots,” Davis said.
His comments in the House of Assembly are manipulative and are steeped in an antiquated belief system.
It’s an attempt to keep the public quiet while the world talks about the issue and suggests that to ask questions, you’re doing something wrong.
It also suggests that any attempt to discuss FTX is “unpatriotic” and will ruin the country’s image.
Davis attempts to implement an ‘us versus them’ mentality which can be destructive, divides the Bahamas from the rest of the world, and forces Bahamians to pick a side and automatically make judgments about the other side without taking a realistic view of what happened.
Opposition Leader Michael Pintard then responded stating that he was surprised “at the brevity and to a large extent, the hollowness” of the prime minister’s remarks on the downfall of FTX.
“We are facing a substantial risk to our financial services sector and one would’ve expected that since the international community’s eyes are trained on the Commonwealth of The Bahamas that on this occasion that this Davis-Cooper administration would’ve thought it necessary to break its silence much earlier with a far more comprehensive statement given the gravity of this.”
There may be circumstances where Davis’ concept of waiting until all the evidence is brought to the forefront before making allegations, could be applied, but FTX is global. The fiasco is not a secret. The world’s a global village.
Bankman-Fried was a crypto sensation living and working in the Bahamas and rubbed shoulders with prominent US politicians and A-list celebrities. Therefore, his headquarters in the Bahamas will bring scrutiny.
Of course, Bahamians have questions and they deserve to be answered and one’s patriotism should not be based on the questions they have about FTX’s dealings and connection to the governing party.
Bahamians deserve to know more from Davis and he should willingly answer any of the questions from the Opposition leader such as did the PLP accept donations from Bankman-Fried, did it hold digital wallets with FTX, and whether it did its due diligence to screen the company before its operation in the Bahamas.
Davis should not expect Bahamians to stick to his script.
New FTX Boss John Ray harshly criticized crypto-white knight Sam Bankman-Fried and his transactions in the Bahamas, which directly opposes Prime Minister Philip Davis’ assessments of FTX’s operations in the Bahamas.
Ray wrote in a court filing in Delaware, “Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here.
“From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented.”
However, Davis in his first comment on the FTX’s fiasco said in the House of Assembly that officials have not found any anomalies.
“We have not identified any deficiencies in our regulatory framework that could have avoided this.”
Davis continued, “I have every confidence that the Bahamas will emerge from the proceedings involving FTX – proceedings taking place here as well as in other jurisdictions – with an enhanced reputation as a solid digital assets jurisdiction.”
Ray, who is an expert in financial scandals like Enron, rebuked FTX’s poor record-keeping, the inexperienced senior managers, and the use of company funds to purchase real estate in the Bahamas.
Ray said the exchange had suffered an “unprecedented and complete failure of corporate controls.”
Last week, the Securities Commission Bahamas froze Bankman-Fried’s assets after his 32-billion-dollar empire collapsed.
Since filing for bankruptcy, he appointed Ray as the new CEO.
Bankman-Fried is expected to testify on Capitol Hill next month to account for purported billions of dollars that evaporated in the crypto exchange.
Prime Minister Philip Davis carried a contingent of 70 people from the Bahamas to attend COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, to call on developed countries to pay for the effects of climate change on small island nations like the Bahamas.
Davis like other leaders of small island nations contend that the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide has increased the likelihood of hurricanes which have worsened over the past few years, and the country’s debt is tied to the responses to natural disasters.
Last year, at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, chief “polluters” like the United States, China, India, Russia, Japan and Germany promised to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 1.5 degrees Celsius. But only a few countries that signed on to the Paris climate agreement, have worked toward the target goal.
Reports say carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere that were released from developed countries this year reached 421 parts per million, the highest in history. In fact, the planet just recorded one of the hottest summers.
Many countries have experienced rising floods, heat waves, storms, and droughts which are believed to be worsened by rising temperatures, which experts say are the repercussions of climate change.
However, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world changed its focus to inflation, rising energy prices, conflict, food shortages and supply chain issues which would likely prevent any other focus on the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The fuel shortages spurred by the conflict, are pushing countries toward mining and drilling for fossil fuels. Germany has since restarted coal power plants. And world leaders are worried about rising prices.
Preventing temperatures from exceeding 1.5 degrees seems out of reach and it’s likely the developed countries will ignore the pleas of Davis, Mia Mottley and other leaders of small island nations in compensating for climate change losses.
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 .”
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.”