Friday, March 22, 2013

Why can't the church speak on oil?

Why can't the church speak on oil?

The media recently reported the details of a press conference held by the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) on the possible proceeds that could be derived from oil drilling in the Bahamas. The BCC firmly said that they do not support the agreement that the government signed back in 2005.

The sliding scale agreement gives the country anywhere from 12.5 percent to 25 percent of the oil proceeds depending on what is produced. The BCC feels that this agreement is not in the best interest of the country and they are adamant that the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC’s) only concern is that of profits.

Let me state for the record that BPC’s desire to make profits comes as no surprise to anyone. In fact, BPC would be negligent in its duties if it fails to secure as much profits as possible for its shareholders. Moreover, the Bahamas government would be negligent in its duties if it fails to secure the best deal for its shareholders who are the Bahamian people.

I am in full agreement with the church that the present deal does not represent the best interests of the Bahamian people.

Some persons are calling the talk shows and asking on whose authority the church is acting on. They feel that the church is in an arena where it should not be. Oh how small minded we are. Bahamians must realize by now that the oil industry could be worth billions of dollars. I said billions of dollars. We can ill afford to allow our leaders to again negotiate bad laughable deals on our behalf. We need and deserve clarity on this issue and the process must be transparent. Our leaders must be firm and clearly lay out how the proceeds of oil will be distributed and negotiate a respectable tax that the Bahamian people are satisfied with.

Don’t we remember during the last general elections, that Ben Albury and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) were agitating for the government to come clean on the oil issue? After much agitation and even a march, former Minister for the Environment Earl Deveaux issued several statements on the then government’s position.

Don’t we remember Ben Albury and the DNA agitating for several then opposition members namely Brave Davis, Perry Christie and Damien Gomez to clarify their role of providing services to BPC? The then opposition leader, Perry Christie issued several statements with regards to his work with BPC, the last one being that his ties with BPC were severed.

Don’t we remember Wayne Johnson and his team also asking the same questions?

These actions have sadly been forgotten by the Bahamian people and now some of us have the audacity to ask why the BCC is sniffing its nose around this oil issue.  We should know by now that many of our powerful citizens will only whisper their disdain for government decisions in a backroom that is sound proof. The Bahamian people need a strong voice and if it’s the church then so be it.

We need to know every detail that the government plans to execute with regard to the oil issue. I have listened to Minister for the Environment Ken Dorsett when he said recently that BPC has been given the green light to explore for oil. He said that if oil is commercially viable in the Bahamas the Bahamian people will decide whether to go forward.

The proceeds from the oil industry have the potential to positively change the economic plight of every Bahamian. We could be talking about hundreds maybe thousands of legitimate Bahamian millionaires in the next ten years.

I support the Minister’s candidness so far and I support the church taking a strong stance on this issue. They are right on and have decided to start agitating now as opposed to waiting when it is too late to act. I am certain that with the church as our watch dog, the regulatory framework and all the environmental checks will be completed before the oil referendum is put to the people.

Judging from the last referendum results, the church is still a very strong organization in the country and I am confident that if they keep the government’s feet to the fire, the Bahamian people will have all the information they need to make an informed decision once the time arrives. I say to Reverend Patterson and his team to keep their campaign alive. The Bahamian people are watching and they will follow.

Dehavilland Moss



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