Response from The Hon. Michael C. Pintard, M.P. Member of Parliament for Marco City Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to the Speech from the Throne Opening of Parliament 2023

Oct 31, 2023

Wednesday 25th October 2023 House of Assembly Nassau, The Bahamas


On October 4th, 2023, Bahamians everywhere had the opportunity to take in the spectacle that is the Opening of Parliament and the Speech from the Throne. The Bahamas is among the oldest continuous Parliaments in the region with its legislative assembly first meeting back in September of 1729. We must not transform the physical infrastructure and strengthen its independence and separation from the Executive branch of Government so that we can be more effective as a country. If ever we needed greater independence from the Executive branch, it is now. We extend our gratitude to our Governor General, Her Excellency the Most Honorable Cynthia Pratt, who as always was dignified and graceful as she read her first Speech from The Throne. We wish God’s continued blessing on her, and her family and we wish her every success as Governor General. Her record of service has been inspirational.

We are here today to provide our commentary and feedback on the content within The Speech from the Throne and on some of the circumstances that have gotten us here.

First, I would like to again acknowledge my appreciation to the people of Marco City for their continued faith in me as their representative and then to the entire Free National Movement family who – almost two years ago – granted me the responsibility of a lifetime – to lead the next chapter in the great history of our Party, some fifty years after its founding. I remain deeply moved, grateful and energized by your trust and support.

This assignment came at a time when our party was in deep need of introspection after a bruising election loss.

Since our leadership campaign we have set out to rebuild our machinery, reconnect with our supporters and the

Bahamian people and reignite the excitement among party


faithful and others who yearn for better governance. Our work together has produced better over these two years.

We have been tasked with re-aligning the focus of the

party to meet the demands of the Bahamian people. The public told us two years ago, despite some significant successes, that they expected more from us when we were in government. There were mistakes that we have to learn from. We will build on our past success as we make the changes that we must. We have new management with

new priorities and ways of doing the people’s business.

Under my leadership along with Shanendon Cartwright, Dr. Duane Sands and our dynamic team we have rededicated ourselves to the Free National Movement’s

core principles. We will be even more responsive to the needs and aspirations of our people!


Bahamians expect that politicians will live up to the promises made while campaigning and pledges made in the speech from the throne. We cannot just talk about accountability, transparency, fairness, and empowerment.

I want to be crystal clear on this: under my leadership, the FNM will be true to its promises of more accountable, transparent, and inclusive government that will seek to improve the lives of all Bahamians, regardless of party colors and socio-economic background. The promises we make we will keep. If ever changes must be made the

compelling reasons must and will be shared in open and honest conversation with our people.

We respect the role of a strong press, not just to ask questions but to get real answers from their public


We believe that arrogance is a poison in political organizations. We know leadership is about humility,


respecting others, and hearing their suggestions and responding to their cries and pain. Our mission is improving lives not just maintaining the status quo. We are particularly proud of the efforts made by the women

of our party, who have, among other things, stood up for the rights of children, women, and the vulnerable. They are building on a proud FNM’s tradition of empowering girls and women. We look forward to expanding their role and the role of our youth. Indeed, The FNM torch is burning bright with new energy. And while we owe

tremendous gratitude to those who came before and those who led us in the past, it’s on us-the new generation of leaders and followers, to chart a better more prosperous future together.

That brings us to where we are today. The speech from the throne should fill the citizenship with hope and excitement. It should outline clear legislative ambitions that Bahamians should feel confident that its government


will pursue. It also signals the way that government is likely to govern and the outcomes its policies and programs seek to achieve.

Sadly though, after two years of this Davis-Cooper led PLP government, Bahamians realize that this is unfortunately just an exercise in political tradition and theatre.

The simple truth is that by now the Bahamian people have

this PLP government figured out: The PLP is primarily about profiling, flossing and “flammin”, pomp and pageantry and about little else. When under fire, under pressure they are about switching the conversation- deflecting. They are about getting them, and their selected

groups sorted out and to this end they will try sell you a bag full of promises – only to deliver to you a barrel full of disappointments.”


Massive Run up in the National Debt

Despite taking in record revenues on the backs of a post- pandemic economy, the PLP has since taking office added well over $1 billion to the national debt with the vast

majority in foreign currency debt after promising to limit borrowing in foreign currency. Worse, they cannot show Bahamians anything tangible for that money spent.
After promising Bahamians a so-called “New Day”, life has become a nightmare for the common man and woman. Inflation is out of control. High grocery and light

bills are crippling families. Starting and managing a business is more frustrating than two years ago. With new taxes and fees around every corner, hitting every sector money can’t stay in your pocket. Your dollar is not going as far as it used to. God forbid if the average citizen gets

sick, they are unable to afford proper healthcare as our public facilities are in a poor state and medicine is both expensive and sometimes scarce and most of our brothers


and sisters, our children do not have insurance. Lack of insurance is sometimes a death sentence.

Nassau-centric politicians have overlooked Grand

Bahama and the Family Islands. The PLP even decided to tax breadbasket items, feminine products, medication, and insurance, all of which were VAT-free under the FNM. Senator Barnett-Ellis was right to call them the opposite of progressive. In the Speech from the Throne, there was no real mention of Grand Bahama

Grand Bahama Development

Despite their typical big talk and public relations stunts, the PLP has failed to deliver anything of note for the people of Grand Bahama. After cancelling the agreement, they met in place for the sale of Our Lucaya, the PLP went on to embarrass themselves by claiming to have a sale for the property that never materialized. Two years

in, they have yet to complete infrastructure projects they found under development. They have chosen a public fight with the GBPA instead of engaging in productive dialogue to the benefit of the people of Grand Bahama.

After spending millions and causing millions to be spent in preparation for the development of a world class airport the project has without explanation stopped with no communication with the companies which were gearing up to execute the project.

This administration has failed in Dorian relief. Family Island Development and Enhancement

The Davis-led PLP has been an incredible disappointment to the people of the Family Islands. Not only has there been slow progress in completing the infrastructure projects they met under development by the FNM, there has been little in the way of significant new infrastructure or other public projects. Meanwhile, the roads, docks and public facilities continue to fall into


disrepair. Local government entities and public officials in the Family Islands complain about the delays in getting funds from Central Government. The PLP announced the establishment of a Family Island fund last year and has yet to provide any reporting or accounting for monies in that fund.

Bahamian Natural Resources & National Investment Fund

As is typical, the Davis-led PLP Administration has had a lot to say about Bahamian natural resources and the development of a national investment fund (NIF)to mobilize and utilize Bahamian resources and land to benefit the Bahamian people, the facts are that very little has been done. After the passage of the National Investment Funds Act in 2022, there has been no material action taken to establish the Fund and get it working. Despite endless rhetoric, there are no Bahamian green or

blue carbon credits. There have been no resources put into the Fund. After almost a year, there is no Board, no Management, and no effective plan to make the NIF a reality. It has been just more idle talk from the PLP.


We don’t wish for this government to fail, but the truth of the matter is this Davis – Cooper administration has been a disappointment.

As I address you this morning, the House of Assembly

has only recently returned from being prorogued. Let’s not forget why that happened in the first place. The heat under the tent is emblematic of the heat this Davis led Administration is under.

The Davis administration was hoping that during their paid vacation, you would forget the scandals that forced them to hit the pause button. A sitting Member of


Parliament faces terrible accusations in a domestic matter. There were serious concerns relative to Immigration where the former Minister in conjunction with colleagues when he ordered the release of foreign workers who were

in custody with no proper work permits or identification. The same Minister was under fire for other not yet explained immigration violations. The former Minister of Works misled parliament, giving a number of conflicting stories to mask the truth that he and the Prime Minister cancelled the fuel hedge program that has now added

more than $100 million in unnecessary costs to your electricity bills as residents, business owners and government. Two years later and they are just now conducting review of the Energy Sector.

The public was rightfully angry, but none of those Ministers lost their jobs. They were simply redeployed elsewhere. In fact, the Prime Minister was more upset at the whistleblowers at immigration, who were doing their


job by alerting their bosses to irregular and unjustifiable actions by their Minister. And true to form, instead of sacking the Minister and investigating the matter, the Prime Minister has decided to either or permit the

sidelining those who did the right thing. And the Prime Minister and his Public Relations army have been ducking and dodging the issue ever since. Even the Immigration Union is outraged at the disrespect and unethical decision by this Government. This old-school style PLP victimization is back, intimidation of public servants is

back. There is a price to pay for those who seek to do what is right.

It is clear to every Bahamian that this is a government of lavish excess, of public relations stunts while the

government struggles to pay contractors across the Bahamas including small home repair contractors or civil servants whose deductions are often late or public servants who for the third time monthly salaries are late in


part because they are among those who the FNM Cabinet made permanent and pensionable yet they are crying out due to uncertainty about their future because as they are still in temporary work program. The cash crunch has not

reduced the government’s large delegations that travel worldwide. The cash crunch has not reduced the cocktail receptions here and around the world. Because of the cash crunch hundreds, some say 350 persons, who the public service is poised to hire home waiting. Some left other jobs on a promise of new employment.

While some of our neighbors are skipping meals, choosing between paying rent or the light bill this month, we are watching ministers living large at the people’s expense. They could find money for no bid and single

source contracts and secret financial settlements with known associates. We are in tough times, but not government officials. As Senator Seymour would say, they have conch salad priorities.


A clear example of this was their trip to Bermuda, when Davis used public funds for political purposes to fly his PLP colleagues on a private chartered jet to do politics,

while we continued to suffer here at home. We demanded the receipts, but over a year later, they still have not accounted for their breach of the law. No apologies. No consequences.

We call them serial lawbreakers because this isn’t the first

time, they’ve been caught red-handed. The PLP breaks the law with impunity. Some examples:

– They broke the law in the unauthorized signing of the $70 million loan with the Saudi Government.

– They broke the law with the Minister of Housing signing a $20 million loan with a Jamaican lender

– They broke the law with the illegal advance of $232 million from the Central Bank SDR foreign reserves and refuse to acknowledge that it is a loan.

– They broke the law with an illegal tax break for

owners of expensive yachts and pleasure craft done

outside the budget process
– They broke the law with the refusal to publish the

annual report on all contracts by the government from September 2021 to August 2022. A partially released report with only some details will not silence

the public demand for transparency.
– They broke the law with the refusal to publish now

six reports from the Fiscal Responsibility Council
– They broke the law with illegal loan to BPL of $110

million-the terms still not known
– They broke the law in granting work permits and



Remember now, this is a Prime Minister who has gone on record now several times telling Bahamians they must obey the law. Yet, he and his team who must set the example for all Bahamians are quite content to break and

ignore the law when it suits them. There is one rule for them and another for everyone else.

The Davis- Cooper Administration has come to the Bahamian people again with a list of big promises that everybody – including them – know that they have very

little intention or plan on keeping.

By our count, this PLP government made around 87 specific policy pledges in its first speech from the throne. Being as generous as we could in our assessment, there are still some 60 promises that they haven’t even touched. That leads us to two very clear determinations.

First, with close to 70 percent of their stated commitments still left to carry out, why did the government see the need to refresh its mandate. This underwhelming PLP government clearly had only begun to scratch the surfaces on the things that they promised to do. Instead of all this fanfare, they need to get behind their desks, in our communities, in our healthcare facilities, over the hill, in our family islands, in West Grand Bahama and Bimini, and get to work.

Second, by failing on seven of the ten things they promised to do, the Bahamian people are right when they conclude that all we will see is more of the same. Many of these things are rehashes of old promises going back decades. Lots of talk, lots of spin, lots of traveling and partying and cocktail receptions and media events, lots of weaponizing law enforcement and other organs of the state to investigate, hunt, embarrass and criminalize its


opponents – but insufficient in the way of governance and getting things done to benefit the Bahamian people.

In the last speech from the Throne, this PLP government promised Local Government for New Providence, they promised full enactment of the Freedom of Information Act, they promised more funds for Family Island Councils, they promised anti-corruption legislation, theypromised serious action to get the country’s fiscal house in order.

These and so many more promises have been ignored. They were not serious about these things before, and they will not be serious about their bag of promises this time either. In fact, in many respects we have gone backwards.

We have seen runaway price inflation on even the very basics with this PLP government absolutely refusing to do simple things to make life easier for ordinary Bahamians.

We have seen the Prime Minister make untrue claims regarding $50 million in annual funding to Bahamian small businesses when not even a small fraction of that has been provided to small businesses over the last two years. We have seen this Davis administration take OUT the criminal penalties in their updated Public Finance Management Act. Can you imagine? There were criminal penalties IN the law they met in place for financial malfeasance. They didn’t make the penalties tougher. They took them out altogether! What could possibly explain that?

Never before has one government broken so much trust in such a short time. Bahamians are fed up. Bahamians are

saying enough is enough. It’s time we do things differently.


Like you, I’m tired of politicians who make you question the point of voting at all. But let me tell you why I still have hope. With your help, I believe we can create a movement that create irreversible changes for the better.

We can and must do things differently if The Bahamas is to survive and thrive.

We have an opportunity to usher in a generational shift. Our economy needs renewal. It’s time for people to get ahead based on what they know and not who they know.

We have untapped potential in the business community ready to be unleashed if we give them the tools to make it happen – Reduce the red tape, lessen government interference. New industries are waiting to burst forth. Our cultural product is the best in the world and needs

tangible support. Shanendon Cartwright says it often; the poor need a hand up, not a handout. And yes, Bahamians want to be first in line for the benefits of our natural


resources. These issues are not PLP, FNM, or any other party issues, they are Bahamian issues.
What I said as a cabinet minister in 2019 is still true today: our leaders need a greater sense of urgency, and we

must guard against arrogance. When given another opportunity, in 2026 the FNM intends not just to be an improvement on this administration, but on what we were as well.

Very shortly, we will be publishing a summary document

with our policy recommendations for the current government to pursue. We take our role as the country’s government in waiting seriously. We are here not only to provide critique of the government. We also are prepared to put forward sound, reasonable, and achievable policy

positions and options that can move the country forward. Ultimately, for the FNM, the goal will always be to make life better for Bahamians.


If you have not done so, register to vote without delay to usher in the change that is necessary.

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