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Moving on from the BTC issue

Published: Sep 06, 2013

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The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) said in its manifesto that it would seek to return the majority stake in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) to the Bahamian people. The party, however, did not give a detailed and plausible plan to achieve that aim.

Prime Minister Perry Christie appointed an advisory committee to work on the effort. There has been talk and there have been meetings, but nothing has changed from the day the PLP was elected to office.

We all know the party’s BTC pledge was empty election talk. The government would not dare renationalize BTC, as such a move would have serious negative effects on the international reputation of The Bahamas. And now Prime Minister Perry Christie has admitted the government is unable to afford to purchase shares in the company to make the government its majority owner again.

All sensible Bahamians knew the PLP BTC pledge was undoable. It is now time for the prime minister to move on and focus on other matters of national significance. It is a waste of time to focus on an objective with no plan and resources to achieve it.

We think that when the government wants to divest itself of state assets, it should sell them to Bahamians or joint venture groups including Bahamians. But, that said, a deal has already been done and this administration would be wise to simply let it be.

Strangely, despite the prime minister acknowledging that the government does not have the money to acquire the majority stake in BTC, he still has not abandoned the idea. What he should know is that by constantly referencing it and being unable to achieve it, he harms his reputation. Leaders are supposed to be about achieving goals and objectives and not about idle talk.

Five-year political terms go fast. The PLP has been working on bringing new investment to The Bahamas; it has been working on reducing the crime rate; it should also continue the effort to get the Bahamian debt situation under control. At the end of this term if the PLP is able to demonstrate success in these areas it has a good chance of being reelected.

The prime minister must know when to say that something he thought was achievable no longer is. We all miscalculate, misspeak or say things we didn’t think through. The PLP pledge on BTC fits into one of those categories. Christie, his Cabinet and party should now realize that.

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