Travis Robinson has been reinstated as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism two years after he was fired for going against the government in a crucial House vote. The million dollar question is, why?
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis fired Robinson in June 2018 after he voted against a measure to increase value-added tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 12 percent. Now, he’s back on the Ministry of Tourism’s payroll.
I’m not sure if the prime minister has heard, but The Bahamas’ tourism industry has collapsed.
Thousands of people have lost their jobs and many more about to join the unemployment line. In fact, the prime minister recently suggested that Bahamasair may have to defer a portion of workers’ salaries due to reduced flights.
He said if that happens, politicians should prepare to have a portion of their salaries deferred as well.
The Year 2020 “A Write-Off”
Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union President, Darrin Woods recently called 2020 a “complete write-off” for the tourism industry after several hotel properties extended their closures.
Atlantis, our nation’s largest private employer, has postponed its reopening indefinitely. Baha Mar’s reopening has been postponed until October 1st. But, given the ever evolving nature of this COVID-19 situation, that remains to be seen.
Cruise lines continue to delay their return. It’s not clear if Carnival Cruise Line, which said it would cancel all voyages through September 30, will return after that date. There’s a lot of hope, but very little certainty.
Yet, it’s against that backdrop that the prime minister rehired Robinson – a man with no known expertise in tourism. What unique skills does Robinson possess that warrants his return to his former post at these difficult times?
Following his termination, Robinson, who, now has a Bachelor of Science degree in Tourism Management, was reported to launch his own tourism consultancy, which helps investors set up shop in The Bahamas.
“I have a lot of avenues that I can take and job offers,” he said at the time. “I will be going into private business. I have launched my new business, which I expect will catapult me as a tourism consultant for domestic and international investors.”
Robinson is also the founder of The Rising Star Organization, an “elite male mentorship organization,” which trains and empowers young boys who are student leaders to become world changers.
I am in no way discrediting his many accomplishments thus far. But, I do question why anyone is being hired in a ministry that has taken such a significant blow. I am questioning the unique skill that he has that has convinced the prime minister and Tourism Minister, Dionisio D’Aguilar that he needs to return to the fold on a shaky payroll.
Are We In Dire Straits Or Not?
If the prime minister is correct and we are experiencing tough times, then we need to make budgetary cuts.
Reappointing Robinson as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism makes absolutely no sense. As a matter of fact, it is beyond insulting to do so.
Before his termination, Robinson, in a Facebook post, noted that he was earning $78,000, had a “fancy car” and a chauffeur.
It’s impossible to take the government seriously when it urges Bahamians to hold the line on spending, then, turns around and rehires former employees.
The optics are bad and it was just a poor decision all around.
The Rising COVID-19 Numbers
A Bahamian friend of mine who lives in a southern US state recently phoned me to tell me that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19. His mother, who had been stranded in the US and stayed with him while our borders was closed, learned after she returned to The Bahamas that she, too, had the virus.
She has since been treated, but lived in the house with others, who were also infected.
That mother, like many Bahamians who returned home, brought the disease into the country.
There are critics who are miffed that the government would assert that Bahamians are driving the new infections. I cannot say with any degree of certainty that they are. But, I can say there is a high likelihood that, that is indeed the case.
As soon as the borders were reopened, Bahamians took flights to Florida to shop. The prime minister cautioned residents not to make trips unless it was due to an emergency. The people didn’t listen.
They bought their tickets, boarded the plane and headed to the COVID-19 hotspot of America – Florida. Medical experts say the southern state is now the epicenter of the virus much like Wuhan, China was before it got the virus under control.
Except for those travelling for emergency reasons – medical or to attend funerals, there was no reason for Bahamians to travel to Florida. But, we just don’t get it. And we don’t like to listen.
Imagine if Florida was the epicenter of an Ebola virus. Would we be as eager to board a flight or a boat and go there?
Our nation has limited resources with medical professionals who are stretched to the limit. It’s actually quite disrespectful to the healthcare providers working on the frontline. They are putting their lives on the line every day they enter the hospital and treat sick patients.
Not only that, medical staff are facing anxiety and depression. They are mentally and physically exhausted. If they get sick or suffer emotional breakdowns, who is going to treat patients?
We must remember that not everyone in the hospital is there due to COVID-19. There are women giving birth every day. People are scheduled for surgeries. Accident victims need immediate care. We put them all at risk when we fail to do our part to arrest the COVID-19 numbers.