Letters to the Editor: FNM Vice Chairman blasts govt. over $2.5 private jet debacle

Letters to the Editor: FNM Vice Chairman blasts govt. over $2.5 private jet debacle

Dear Editor,

I, along with scores of Bahamians, was astonished to discover during the budget announcement that the government has allocated $2.5 million of taxed funds, extracted from the pockets of the Bahamian people, towards the purchase of an aircraft for government travel to the family islands. One would have expected that, during these challenging times when Bahamians are genuinely struggling and seeking assistance rather than handouts, they would receive more positive news in this 2024-2025 budget cycle. The inflation, which seems to be suffocating the average Bahamian who simply desires a better life, is making them victims of ill-conceived and poorly executed policies. Government employees who are owed wages for their work or even under industrial agreements should have received the news that they will finally be compensated. However, it was revealed that one of the major secrets hidden in the fine print of this budget was exposed by the His Majesty Loyal Opposition.

The entire opposition team deserves praise for uncovering this issue, as the government would have escaped accountability otherwise. I felt a sense of pride when I witnessed Michael Pintard’s swift action in raising relevant questions regarding the management, regular maintenance, and allocated funds for this matter. Given my previous role as a government senator, one would expect a senior cabinet official to provide an answer. However, it was disappointing to see Minister of State in OPM, Hon. Leon Lundy, stand up and promise to provide the requested information in the future. As an average Bahamian citizen who is concerned about where my tax dollars are being spent, I was hoping for a comprehensive response from the government. Fortunately, the opposition did not back down and continued to pose further questions, only to receive the same unsatisfactory response from the minister. It is surprising that the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of State responsible for Aviation did not step forward to address these inquiries articulately, leaving us with an unproductive response.

To this date, Bahamians have no idea, where the plane is coming from. No idea if it’s new or used. No idea if it’s foreign or local. No idea if it will be used by medical professionals, technical staff for government ministries/agencies. No idea if it will be a jet, chatter or a plane like Bahamas air. We are in the dark because we have no idea! What we have an idea is that, the $2.5million dollars which will be spent on a plane for flying, could’ve instead be used to assist members of the Disability community, repairing the roads, docks, provide better maintenance of our schools, feeding the poor, cracking down on the high rate of homelessness. This substantial amount of money could have made a significant impact on the Family Islands, where better clinics, roads, airports, and consistent access to electricity and water are desperately needed. It is crucial to consider the needs of these communities, regardless of their safety status, and recognize that investing the $2.5 million in implementing 21st-century CCTV systems, similar to how we successfully introduced Shot Spotter during our term, would continue to yield dividends for the Royal Bahamas Police Force in combating crime.

Purchasing an aircraft solely for the transportation of government officials at this moment conveys a negative message to the citizens of the Bahamas. The New Day Government had previously advised us to be prudent in our expenditures, yet they are now contradicting themselves by using taxpayers’ money on non tangible items that Bahamians can’t see, feel or touch. This decision seems to go against the notion of responsible spending, despite the budget’s promise of “Changing the Status Quo.” It appears to be merely a cosmetic change rather than a substantial improvement.

Written by: Jamal Moss
National Vice Chairman (FNM)