The Prime Minister announced during the recent presentation of the budget debate that, thanks to VAT, the country has cut its deficit substantially. That’s great; however deficit does not mean our debt – which continues to grow with vigor. It grows because spending continues to outpace what we collect in tax at the expense of the private sector which, Mr. Christie admitted, grew much slower than expected.
That said I will try and reserve judgment about our country’s finances until the budget debate is properly concluded and sussed out.
But what I will focus on is Abaco’s role in the country. And from what I’ve read of the budget debate so far there has been little said about Abaco, one of the most lucrative islands for the National Treasury, aside from mentions of Baker’s Bay and Winding Bay. That’s great and all, considering the substantial numbers they employ and the taxes they pay, but as usual in these proceeding Nassau is very short sighted in its plans for The Bahamas. Abaco is not Nassau – and we do not want to be.
Abaco is family-run businesses. Abaco is generations of over-achievers and hard workers. Abaco is second homeowners investing heavily in somewhere they love and repeat visitors coming back because of our beauty and friends they’ve made. Abaco is not big hotels stretching along the entire coast.
We are not the Wild West waiting to be settled by large “anchor projects.” With the Baha Mar fiasco we see how well that works out. But the government is one dimensional, short sighted and starry eyed for those big name projects.
You hear about it whenever the government big wigs show up to tout the “next big thing” and big budget resorts (read: easy, loose, hard-to-trace cash) to improve the island, create jobs, invest in the community, yadda yadda.
Meanwhile the families and businesses that have already built those islands, created jobs and invested in their communities have to beg, borrow and steal just to scrape by and be heard.
Our leaders do not understand diversification. The government has cash registers everywhere, as it should, but they seem determined to shut the cash register drawers of those hundreds of Bahamians, and yes foreigners, who have blood sweat and tears in the game in favour of consolidating it into as few big names as possible.
What happens when the big names decide to pull out because of political whiplash or fail to launch (again, like Baha Mar)? Everyone is worse off because the people who should have received investment and tax breaks were ignored for the promise of bigger and better things.
Big things get headlines. Big things get votes.
But for all their blustering the government never seems to finish the truly important big things in any hurry. Think of our mini-hospital which should be open any day now after FOUR YEARS. Think of our airport which was a frustrating saga of silence and delays. And think of countless other half-baked projects and foot dragging present throughout our archipelago.
Big things do matter. But so do the small things. Of course none of it makes any difference if the government can’t do either right.