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From the Editor’s Desk // All the Fish

Obviously the hottest topic right now is the revelation that the government has been flirting with the idea of doing something a little overblown, unnecessary and potentially quite damaging.

Yes, this could be the opening paragraph dealing with quite a few of the government’s recent ideas and dealings. However, here we’re talking about the leaked draft detailing a Chinese/Bahamian “partnership” (I use that term lightly) to fish Bahamian waters and use Andros as home base.

It’s not a small time project. It will involve the creation of one hundred new Chinese / Bahamian owned businesses. It involves borrowing over 2 BILLION dollars from China. And with that $2 billion the government will see fit to invest it over ten years into the newly formed businesses. $20 million per business – if distributed evenly.

Let me stop for a moment.

Who will be awarded these $20 million contracts? Will it be handled the same way it has so many times before where those in Parliament award contracts to their own companies or companies of cronies? Or will the Chinese dictate who gets the money? Existing businesses or fishermen won’t be getting it.

Why invent new businesses out of thin air when there are many agriculture and fisheries businesses in existence NOW? Is it because Ministers involved wouldn’t be able to stuff those companies with their own people to earn those kick-backs?

It’s just too much money with too much slack. This country’s politicians are far too inclined towards cronyism and nepotism to be trusted with $2 BILLION dollars and one hundred fresh, blank shell corporations to spend it.

The price tag is too high. The lender is too unscrupulous. And we the people will pay the interest.

And in the meantime we have to deal with people like Minister Gray who takes you, and I, for fools and can’t even be bothered to come up with a good lie.

The problem with these deals is not because they are made with Chinese nationals. We have many foreign investors of many nationalities (US, Canada, South America) that add a lot to our economy and culture. I think a relationship with China does have a lot it can offer us. However, when dealing with Chinese companies we deal with de facto branches of the Chinese government. And the Chinese government’s business practices I do have a problem with. For one, their track record for environmental consideration does not align with the way The Bahamas should be doing business.

They practice a form of colonialism where they get to extract all the resources, but don’t have to worry about supporting the people of the colony.

The quasi-government status of many of these Chinese “businesses”, also present another dilemma. Quid pro quo, or tit for tat, becomes built into every deal. The Chinese government lends us the money; therefore the Chinese government selects the “business” to do the work. It’s a win-win for everyone involved on their end.

For us though? We borrow money we can’t afford to pay back, to build projects we don’t need and create jobs that will not last. Case-in-point: the North Abaco Port. That over-budgeted and indulgent project owes its existence to the last government. However, the current government did not correct the course and instead ran with the policy of borrow-and-build.

Borrow what we can’t afford. Build what we don’t need. Owe favours to our creditors.

This particular deal will end with our seas as empty as our Treasury.

About Bradley Albury

Editor-in-Chief of The Abaconian.

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