Prior to 1967, the 7Cs did not apply to the process of awarding Bahamas government contracts. Contract. Costs. Competencies. Connections. Conflicts. Corruption. Cronies. These ideas did not emerge as part of good governance until after 1967.

In fact, these words were not even in the popular government vocabulary at that time. Moreover, the very first time anyone, anywhere, mentioned the word conflict of interest in relation to a Bahamian government official, was in relation to the first negro Minister of Health, Milo B. Butler.

It was said, Butler was in a conflict of interest in his position as Minister of Health because he also owned a funeral home. Was Butler supposedly to be found stealing bodies from the public morgue for his embalming table?

One can only laugh at it now; all the webs woven to catch flies, while the hawks soared free. It was nonsense commentary by the disgruntled and those still in shock at the political turn of events of 1967. It was also only because Butler was a negro, in the first negro led Bahamas government. Such were the times.

Nevertheless, in the present day, one significant question continues to arrive, like a wrong delivery of concrete bricks, at the government doorstep time and time again.

Can a small island nation deliver government contracts, within its community, to those in its community, to help the community, without running foul of the 7Cs?

Contract. Costs. Competencies. Connections. Conflicts. Corruption. Cronies.


MAY 1958 – CYRIL STEVENSON UNCOVERS SYMONETTE SHIPYARDS GOT THE MOST MONEY FROM GOVERNMENT ROAD BUILDING CONTRACTS TO PRIVATE CONTRACTORS (1950-1957)

More than sixty years ago, in early 1958, Cyril Stevenson, Senior Member for Andros, asked in the House of Assembly, for a public disclosure on government road building contracts for New Providence. Stevenson, then PLP Member for Andros, requested the disclosure from Chairman of the Public Board of Works, Mr. G. A. Bethell. Stevenson asked for the amount government spent between 1950 to 1957 (8) on road building. And equally important, who received the contracts.

Chairman of the Board of Public Works made a partial, but nonetheless startling disclosure.

Mr. G. A. Bethell’s response was in relation to road building contracts. Bethell made it emphatically clear that the amount he was about to give did not include amounts for maintenance, re-surfacing, widening or other improvements. These were separate amounts for which the Chairman of the Public Board of Works did not disclose to the House of Assembly or Stevenson.

(The Nassau Herald, Saturday, May 17, 1958)

JANUARY 1958 – Cyril Stevenson‘s Commentary Before Road Building Disclosure of May 1958

It was just a few months before, in January 1958, that Cyril Stevenson wrote in his new fledgling newspaper The Nassau Herald a searing commentary on the Bay Street Merchant government, soon to be declared United Bahamian Party government.

Stevenson alluded to the naked self aggrandisement which was happening in the government in terms of giving out government contracts.

(The Nassau Herald, Saturday, January 25, 1958)

Can a small island nation deliver government contracts, within its community, to those in its community, to help the community, without running foul of the 7Cs?

Contract. Costs. Competencies. Connections. Conflicts. Corruption. Cronies.

The 7Cs are not mutually exclusive considerations. Oftentimes, however, in small island nations, degrees of each one may have to be considered in terms of awarding contracts. Some may overplay or underplay in the decision making process, depending on the type and amount of the contract.

In small island nations, like the Bahamas, public sector spending, represents a vital component within the local economy. When governments spend money, jobs are created, economic growth is stimulated, government tax income (the people’s money) or borrowed money is redistributed back into the local economy, and GDP is given a boost. It is for these very important reasons why government sector contracts, especially large scale contracts, have long been a source of contentious debate.

Within small populations, within a small business and commercial community, can all of the 7Cs apply in equal measure in every contract consideration?

Bahamas Government Spending as a Percentage of GDP


MAY 1958 – STEVENSON UNCOVERS WHO BENEFITED FROM BAHAMAS GOVERNMENT ROAD BUILDING CONTRACTS (1950-1957)

In early 1958, Cyril Stevenson, PLP Senior Member for Andros had several burning questions for Mr. G. A. Bethell, Chairman of the Public Board of Works.

Bethell skirts two very important questions. Did the government lend its equipment to people who were given road building contracts, to help them complete the contracts, with government equipment? Bethell was vague on this.

Bethell also narrows his disclosure solely to road building and not any ancillary road maintenance contracts. Ancillary contracts may have been much more.

Bethell tries to make it appear as though 1958, was included in the amount. In reality this was only May 1958. The amounts quoted could only realistically apply to 1950 to 1957.

Symonette Shipyards, owned by Roland Symonette, leader of the then governing UBP Party, received £42,439 in road building contract money for the period between 1950-1957 (8). This was the single largest amount for a private contractor.

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