Parker-Edgecombe: Liberty exec’s criticisms of BTC “distasteful and disturbing”

Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe was the keynote speaker during an Official Unveiling Ceremony of a painting of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Bimini International Airport in South Bimini on Friday, February 9, 2018. (BIS Photo/Andrew Coakley)

“Nair insulted the prime minister, Bahamian workers and the Bahamian people”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Pakeisha Parker-Edgecombe said last night that she was “disappointed and deeply disturbed” by what she called the “distasteful and insulting” remarks made by Liberty Latin America’s CEO Balan Nair.

Liberty is the parent company of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company.

During a recent Liberty Global town hall meeting in Jamaica, Nair said BTC is one of the company’s lowest performing subsidiaries and linked that poor performance directly to BTC employees.

Nair, who was captured on video, also said that during a recent meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, the prime minister lobbied for more Bahamians to be employed in the top-tier positions.

However, Nair jeered that Minnis was “not trying to make eye contact” with BTC CEO Garry Sinclair, a Jamaican national.

Nair laughed as he recalled the meeting.

“You can see him (the prime minister) standing there; his crown jewel, BTC, is being run by a Jamaican, who is sitting right across from him and he brought up more than once, ‘we need more Bahamians [at BTC]’,” Nair said.

“I am deeply disappointed and disturbed by the distasteful and insulting comment made by Mr. Balan Nair, chief executive officer of Liberty Latin America, the parent company of BTC.

“The comments contained in video clips making the rounds on social media represent troubling mindset and extraordinarily poor judgement.

“Mr. Nair insulted the prime minister, Bahamian workers and the Bahamian people.

“In any context, the comments are unacceptable and extraordinarily inappropriate.

“No matter one’s political affiliation, it is incumbent upon all Bahamians and the opposition to be of one accord in rejecting Mr. Nair’s insulting comment towards The Bahamas.

Parker-Edgecombe added that while the government welcomes partnerships with international investors, it is unapologetic and steadfast in its effort to ensure that the Bahamian workforce is treated fairly and with dignity, whether at BTC or any other entity.

She continued, “At every opportunity, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Dr Hubert Minnis works to secure opportunities for Bahamians at all levels of employment as well as the good name of The Bahamas.

“The Bahamas is an exceptional destination for international partners and investors, who are welcomed to invest in our country, which continues to lead the region in a number of areas.

“International partners should work with goodwill in the ongoing development of The Bahamas, and should not pander to various regional audiences.”

In a statement yesterday, BTC said Nair’s comments were “taken out of context and do no not convey the full essence of the message that was delivered”.

“BTC maintains a good working relationship with the government of The Bahamas and will continue to work together to drive economic growth,” read the statement.

“Furthermore, Liberty Latin America is extremely supportive of BTC, values its employees, and remains committed to building a culture of high performance where colleagues are able to thrive and deliver moments that matter to our customers.”

The line staff union at BTC also took exception yesterday to Nair’s remarks and charged that the leadership and not the staff are responsible for the performance of the company.

Bahamas Communication and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) President Dino Rolle said the comments were improper.

At the town meeting in Jamaica, Nair said there was a vast difference between The Bahamas and Jamaica and his biggest wish is that one day BTC employees “would say, ‘we can be like Jamaica; we can do what they have done in this country.”

He said, “The people in The Bahamas are no different from the people in Jamaica; it’s all about attitude.

“If you feel like you can win, you will win.”