BROKEN PROMISES: FNM 2017 campaign promises still unfulfilled; PM blames hurricanes and COVID

BROKEN PROMISES: FNM 2017 campaign promises still unfulfilled; PM blames hurricanes and COVID
Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr Hubert Minnis addresses party supporters at a drive-in rally on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.

Minnis: It was impossible to deal with all of what we promised within that one [term] but be assured that all will be done

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While the Free National Movement (FNM) unveiled its 2021 manifesto this week, outlining a fresh slew of new campaign promises, many of its previous campaign promises, most notably a fixed election date, remain unfulfilled.

For the FNM, an integral part of securing its 2017 election victory was decrying political corruption on all fronts and promising the Bahamian electorate it would promote “good governance” by enacting and enforcing anti-corruption legislation and pushing for more transparency and accountability in government.

The FNM promised to fully enact the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which Attorney General Carl Bethel estimated could be fully in force by May 2020 — a move several civil society organizations have fervently advocated for for a long time.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis dances with supporters at a Free National Movement event in February 2020.

It promised to constitute an Independent Electoral Commission and Boundaries Commission and to enact campaign finance legislation; establish a fixed election; set term limits for prime ministers; implement a recall system for non-performing public officials; and reform both local government and public procurement rules.

It also promised in 2017 to amend the Public Disclosure Act, with the intention of broadening “its scope of application to include campaign finance reform and to make provision for direct referral to an independent prosecutor”.

Some progress has been made regarding some of these campaign promises.

The FNM did ultimately pass a Public Procurement Act in March 2021, a step towards the public becoming privy to the pertinent details of government contracts, including the names of the beneficial owners of the recipients of those contracts.

That act came into full effect on September 1, 2021.

The FNM also appointed a freedom of information commissioner and deputy freedom of information commissioner — Supreme Court Justice Keith Thompson and Shane Miller respectively.

Structural damage to dock in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, following Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in May said the reason his administration has strayed from its previous campaign promises was due to the plight the country faced as result of two monster storms, Hurricane Irma in 2017 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019, and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the country’s economy and health system to an unprecedented degree.

“Priorities had to be shifted because we have [had] three years of destruction,” Minnis said.

“We could have totally ignored the destruction and just stick to your programme, but if you did that, your country would be a disaster.

“We could have concentrated only on the catastrophic problems that we faced, but then what happens? Your country stagnates and you don’t move.

“It was impossible to deal with all of what we promised within that one [term], but be assured that all will be done.”

The 2021 General Election is slated for September 16, with advance polling for eligible individuals taking place on September, 9, 2021.


Written by Eyewitness News Intern Gabrielle Sterling