Thursday, December 5, 2019
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
GOLDEN Isles MP Vaughn Miller attacked the Minnis administration’s legislative agenda yesterday evening, saying in the House of Assembly that many of the bills the administration has passed have no relevance to the major issues facing the country.
He bemoaned the misery index and lack of financial opportunities for Bahamians during debate on the Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority and Regulations Bill.
He said the executive and Parliament appear to be “intellectually challenged and uninspired and unwilling or unable to legislate on all fronts, all at the same time.”
“My perspective as regards to this (bill), which the executive is eager to have passed before the end of the year, is to see it in the context of the total social, economic and political plight of the voters of Golden Isles,” the Free National Movement MP said. “Immediately, I am painfully aware of the economic plight of thousands of Bahamians including hundreds in Golden Isles who, because of ever-increasing taxes and inflationary practices, cannot afford to buy an airplane ticket to fly anywhere.
“These economic times are so rough that many voters are hard-pressed to find bus money to get to and from work, let alone buy an airplane ticket.
“This bill, while being necessary of course, has no pressing urgency for hundreds of thousands of Bahamians, simply because it is being considered at a very bad economic time. This bill has no impact on the price of cheese, or chicken, or bread, or fish. It does not solve one single pressing economic problem facing Bahamians. So it is impossible for me to have a sensible talk with my constituents about aircraft accident investigation authority, in a vacuum, leaving out the necessary legislative agenda of policies and measures to empower people economically to be able to buy a plane ticket in the first place.”
Noting wealthy people don’t feel the subtle increases in prices for daily necessities, Mr Miller criticised the Central Bank’s plan to eliminate the one-cent coin by the end of 2020, saying he believes this will cause massive inflation that will affect the poorest people the most.
The increase in value added tax to 12 percent, which he voted against, has already caused an increase in depression, he said, adding that “our bad idea to force an additional tax on electricity” will do the same.
Mr Miller said Bahamians feel elected officials have been unproductive over the last two years, noting Parliament only meets regularly for short periods “between long recesses.”
“Many voters find it offensive and unacceptable that in a modern Bahamas that has real and pressing issues, economic and political pressures to content with, we the legislators seem to be insensitive and unproductive in this place,” he said. “This bill, though very important, is out of step with the majority of the Bahamian people, who are on a forced march to poverty.
“At a time like this, when the economy has been shattered by Hurricane Dorian, many voters believe that we should have been bogged down from 9 o’clock in the morning until the late hours of the night, with draft legislation proposals and projects and serious debate as to how we are going to raise employment, (bring) down inflation, fight crime, maintain public infrastructure and order, all at the same time helping to decrease the misery index. This House should be a hive of activity, passing laws, continuously. Instead, we could be accused of being a glorified club house for the indolent and insensitive privileged class.”