As a child I enjoyed the graphic game, “connect the dots”. Among other things, it taught me that I would not always see the whole picture until I had connected some separate issues or events, and that the way to get to see the full picture sometimes required me to follow a process.

This week, I was reminded of this as I read news reports of three separate and supposedly unrelated events. The first was a story about the lack of improvement in Government management systems over the period from 2008 to 2013. The IDB had measured five aspects of public administration and found that we had made “zero progress” in four of them, all measuring below a 1 in 5 mark. The most interesting ones not having progressed were “results oriented planning” and “results-based budgeting”. In other words, we are not planning with a purpose, nor are we allocating funds based upon the effectiveness of previous allocations.

The second item was the report of a Town Meeting to discuss the on-going plans to upgrade Potters Cay. Both the Minister and the representative of the Opposition seemed anxious to stress that the prime objective was to maintain the status quo. Nothing would be disturbed, only made more secure. The only noticeable difference would be the use of the entire waterfront along Bay Street east of the bridge for parking.

The third was the report of the Director of Tourism’s comments boasting about the volume of cruise tourists in Nassau daily. I was, of course, forced to recall that for the past several years, those same tourists, through the Cruise Association executives, have complained about the lack of reasons to spend money in Nassau.

Potters Cay is located between the bridges to what might be the most spectacular tourist enclave in the Caribbean, the Atlantis complex,  the most popular tour spot for cruise tourists to Nassau, and the richest in water-based experiences. The stretch of waterfront along East Bay and Potters Cay itself are therefore among the most exposed to and the most accessible for visitors to the island at the moment.

How, then, is it possible, first of all, not to see that stretch of waterfront as the potential gold mine it is, to commit to using important stretches of it for parking only and most of the rest for “back of house” activities. At a time when income from tourism is threatened, how can we look such a prize stallion in the teeth and walk away?

I am informed that there is no money to pay for the planning of that piece of the waterfront unless it becomes part of the “boardwalk” project for which we have given up our responsibility to plan our development to the Chinese. The IDB’s conclusion seems spot on. There has been no commitment to planning within the successive Government administrations (no results oriented planning), and no strategy that requires there to be budgetary support for the creation of product in our number one industry (no results-based budgeting).  By the way, the third non-performing system was “monitoring and evaluation”. Yet somehow we expect tourism revenue and wealth to grow.

The dots just do not connect.

December 2015