NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday lambasted the prime minister’s national address, labeling it as a campaign speech and not a plan for the way forward.
During his first national address for the year, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis gave an overview of the government’s mitigation efforts throughout the pandemic and the COVID situation in the country.
However, in a statement, Davis accused the prime minister of being “disconnected from the reality”.
Minnis indicated that the government spent over $177 million through the end of October 2020 on its comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also advised that the National Insurance Board (NIB) unemployment assistance program will continue until the end of January and the food assistance program will go to the end of March 2021.
But Davis opined that the prime minister was congratulating himself and boasting about spending millions of dollars on Bahamian people.
“Does the prime minister believe the government has done enough?” he asked.
“The boasts about NIB are infuriating. The FNM (Free National Movement) opposed the National Insurance Act that created NIB, and the prime minister is not doing Bahamians any special favors when he returns to them their own contributions.”
The PLP leader noted that the prime minister’s announcement failed to provide comfort to Bahamians.
“If this was intended to reassure, it had the opposite effect, striking fear into the hearts of the many thousands of Bahamians still out of work and already struggling to survive on the little assistance provided,” he said.
Davis insisted that while the prime minister touts that the country has figured out “the formula” for keeping COVID cases low, the government’s formula is “brutal, business-killing lockdowns, instead of free and easy-to-access testing, public education and actual enforcement of testing requirements for visitors”.
He said the government’s “lack of planning” has been damaging to the country, and while the economic fallout was always going to be bad, “it didn’t have to be this bad”.
“We have heard enough talk about plans-in-development, somehow always ‘a few weeks’ away from being announced. It is time for decisive action and a comprehensive approach to meet the economic and public health needs of the Bahamian people.”
Davis added that the Bahamian people need a clear vision for addressing the current crisis and realistic plans to implement that vision.
“We cannot afford the competent authority’s formula of more job-destroying, economy-shrinking lockdowns; instead, we need new measures to prevent a third wave,” Davis said.
“…The Minnis administration is always reactive instead of proactive, the same approach that has earned the country consistently low rankings in global indexes measuring pandemic responses.”
He further advised that the PLP COVID-19 Task Force has released a full set of recommendations to mitigate the pandemic.