RING THE BELL: Cooper urges PM to call snap election

RING THE BELL: Cooper urges PM to call snap election
PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper

PLP deputy leader says Minnis “gambling with the future of our nation”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chester Cooper yesterday urged Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis to call an early election if he is confident of the electorate’s support and a Free National Movement (FNM) clean sweep at the polls.

“If the prime minister is so convinced he can carry every seat in the next election, then what is he waiting for?” Cooper asked a crowd of supporters at a town meeting in the Big Yard, Andros.

“He should call the election now.

“If you believe you command the support of the people after raising their VAT (value-added tax); after failing them on jobs; after neglecting the Family Islands; after continually insulting and embarrassing the Bahamian people on the international stage; after failing Abaco and Grand Bahama after Dorian — then call the election now.

“Call the election this summer and let’s see if the people still have confidence in you.

“If, after giving Brent Symonette the Town Center Mall contract — more than $52 million in contracts — and after sinking $100 million into the Grand Lucayan hotel on Grand Bahama, he believes the people support him, then call the election now.

“We don’t have to wait any longer.

“We can figure this thing out this summer.

Minnis has repeatedly said he has another seven years to govern.

It is often his response when asked about legislative promises for this term that have yet to manifest.

According to Cooper, the Bahamian people now has “a government that is focused on propping up a failed prime minister, whose sole purpose is to get re-elected”.

“And what is sad is everybody can see that this is a failed prime minister.

“We have members of Parliament who know better; who are better man and woman than this, yet they do nothing; they say nothing.

“They simply stand by while an uninformed and inept prime minister bumbles along, gambling with the future of our nation.

“They know, just as we do, that this prime minister is clueless.

“That he says inconsiderate and senseless things, that he can’t think on his feet.

“That he embarrasses us as a nation of intelligent people. Yet, they do nothing.

“They won’t stand up and speak out against it.”

Cooper asserted FNM MPs and other political appointees, who covet their positions, would rather “wallow in shame and try to cover for a shameless prime minister” before thinking of the good of the nation.

Cooper accused the prime minister of abandoning all good sense when he decided to launch an election campaign last month — potentially two years out from an election — and pointed out that the government has yet to rebuild Abaco, Grand Bahama or Ragged Island following Hurricanes Dorian last September and Matthew in 2016.

Neglect

Cooper accused the government of failing North Andros, which he called a “sleeping giant” of economic potential for expanded agriculture, fishing and trade.

He said with proper planning for investments and incentives, a freight hub and robust city could be developed around Morgan’s Bliff, — “a critical resource”, which could enable the island to get a foothold in the transshipment business given its proximity to New Providence and the United States.

As it relates to BAMSI (Bahamas, Agriculture and Marine Science Institute), Cooper said the facility developed under the Christie administration should serve as an agricultural hub for the surrounding farms with packaging and processing.

The Exuma and Ragged Island MP also said the nation must assess the merit of moving the political capital from New Providence to Andros, as suggested by former PLP Cabinet minister Alfred Sears.

He also announced that a PLP administration would commit to invest $250 million in small business and entrepreneurial development over the course of its term, if elected.

Cooper said the government has demonstrated it has no current vision for Andros, but a PLP government would roll out a sustainable plan for the island.