Govt. concerned about Bahamians welfare, not approval ratings

Anthony Newbold.

Government is more concerned about doing what is best for Bahamians and the country’s overall economy as opposed to a ‘popular vote,’ said Anthony Newbold, the Press Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

Newbold’s comments came in response to questions fielded by Eyewitness News during a recent press briefing at the OPM, which focused on whether or not the government was concerned about a decline in its approval ratings following a string of recent decisions which prompted public pushback.

It was back in April of this year when Public Domain conducted a poll which indicated that the government’s approval rating was on the decline.

The statistics were gathered on April 10; one-month shy of the Free National Movement’s (FNM) first year in office.

The poll indicated that government’s approval rating had dipped to 44 per cent and also revealed that since the General Election held in May 2017, that there were more Bahamians who felt that the country was “headed in the wrong direction.”

Since then a number of decisions recently rolled out by the Minnis-led administration has been met with opposition.

The roll of out the 4.5 per cent increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), government’s decision to purchase the Grand Lucayan Resort, the choice to give Disney the green light to develop Lighthouse Point in Eleuthera, the proposed 2 per cent tax for National Health Insurance (NHI) and the most recent surge in gasoline prices at the pumps are just a few examples of decisions announced by government which has sparked public debate.

There have been those who have supported these decisions, while there have been others who have staunchly opposed.

Despite the tug-o-war between both sides of the debate, Newbold asserted that government is not concerned about losing more of its support base.

“Government is concerned about providing for the people of The Bahamas and the people of The Bahamas are the ones who are going to have to decide if this government remains the government in the next election,” Newbold noted.

“So, sometimes you take a hit, but prime minister Minnis’ thing is ‘I’m going to take care of these people.’”

Newbold suggested that in most cases, those who are giving the government a hard time, aren’t the ones who are being affected by the decisions being made.

“There has been pushback about Grand Lucayan and people questioning, ‘how could you do that?’” said Newbold.

“But the people who have to eat in Grand Bahama don’t think the government is crazy. The people in South Eleuthera who have to eat, they don’t think the government is crazy at all.

“Sometimes you take a hit and you take a hit because that is what you need to do for the people of The Bahamas.”

Newbold touted that the Minnis-led administration remains confident that once the work has been done, and the dust has settled, Bahamians will see the results and benefits in the long run.

“This case now in South Eleuthera has garnered public debate. Earlier it was about Grand Bahama,” he said.

“Wherever these things [decisions] need to happen, they will happen in the best way possible.

“The situations aren’t always perfect, but that’s what governments are elected to do; make those tough decisions. It may seem crazy to people today, but six months down the road you may say, ‘oh, that wasn’t so crazy after all.’”