NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Englerston Member of Parliament Glenys Hanna-Martin on Wednesday lambasted the government in the House of Assembly for attacking the former administration when The Bahamas was under the threat of being blacklisted.
Hanna-Martin said presently, “the shoe is now on the other foot” and the government is now moving quickly to pass a compendium of bills, to ensure that The Bahamas is not blacklisted once again.
“I heard the speech of the Minister of Finance in this Parliament, and if the circumstances were not so serious, one would have a belly full of laughs as to how his talk has switched up,” Hanna-Martin said.
“Now the shoe is on the other foot, and they feel the tightness of those shoes, probably exacerbated by their sensitive corns on this matter.”
The Englerston MP was giving her contribution on a compendium of five financial bills which were passed in the House of Assembly last night.
The passage of these bills will allow The Bahamas to be in full compliance with the European Union’s tax standards, and it will hopefully ensure that the country remains off the blacklist when the international body meets at the end of January.
The five bills passed last night include: The Non-profit Organizations Bill, 2018; the Penal Code Amendment Bill, 2018; the Removal of the Preferential Exemptions Bill, 2018; the Commercial Entities (Substances Requirements) Bill, 2018 and the Register of Beneficial Ownership Bill, 2018.
While giving her contribution, Hanna-Martin queried whether the government
lacked a full understanding of the pressure that was being placed on the economy and the financial services sector from the European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
“Either they lacked that basic knowledge – which would be very surprising to me – or what is perhaps more likely, considering their track record since assuming office, they were prepared to simply play a nasty political game, knowing the pressures they would no doubt themselves face from the OECD and the EU as a new government.
“They nevertheless, boldly spoke from two sides of their mouth and engaged in political gangsterism,” Hanna-Martin claimed.
The Englerston MP said before taking office, the prime minister accused the former administration of putting the country in a “precarious situation” as it relates to how it dealt with being backlisted.
“This was the language that was used by the prime minister at that time, but then came their own blacklisting. The heat was on them,” Hanna-Martin recalled.
“And then we heard the Cabinet Office advising that they were deeply disappointed by the
OECD’s decision to blacklist The Bahamas, and that the government would redouble its efforts.
“The heat was on them now at this point. They were on the centre stage with the spotlight shining on them and we certainly now see a kinder, gentler FNM invoking bi-partisan support for what they now describe as a difficult issue.”
The Englerston MP contended, however, that being blacklisted and having to comply with the demands of international financial and rating agencies was always a difficult issue.
“It didn’t become difficult because the shoe is on your feet,” she said. “It is a continuing challenge.”
Hanna-Martin said the government was aware that at all times the former administration was fully engaged with industry stakeholders, yet the government engaged in “sleazy politics” when the country was under the “assault” of being blacklisted.
“I don’t like the politicking, the disingenuousness, because when the shoe was on the other foot we saw the political work at play and now here we are,” Hanna-Martin told parliamentarians.
“But guess what, we are still one Bahamas, we are still one people. It is no different because the red people [the Free National Movement government] are in charge now, Mr. Speaker, but there is nevertheless a reality which we face.”
Hanna-Martin said The Bahamas has excelled in the financial services sector and it has become a pillar of the economy. She noted, however, that the EU and the OECD have created powerful alliances and they are adamant about their own self interests.
Hanna-Martin said instead of following the global agenda of trade regimes, The Bahamas should be developing policies and revisiting its economic model to maximise the rich resources of the country, as well as develop human capital and new trade arrangements.
“It is time for us now to get ahead of this phenomenon. We can no longer permit the self-interests of a third nation to suffocate and overcome our best interests,” she said.
“We must find a methodology to take the Bahamian people ahead of this paradigm so that we are able to become more resilient when we face the ravages of this industry and the various challenges that are being faced.”