Letters to the Editor: The Davis Administration needs to walk and chew gum

Letters to the Editor: The Davis Administration needs to walk and chew gum

In Bahamian vernacular, the phrase “walking and chewing gum” at the same time is often used to describe one’s ability to multitask and carry out multiple activities simultaneously. In essence, an individual who cannot walk and chew gum is seen as being one-dimensional and unable to perform when faced with more than one assignment at a time. Based on the utterances by Prime Minister Davis, the question must be asked: Is this administration overwhelmed or paralyzed by the various issues it must address urgently?

A nation in crises

The hype of the 2021 general election has diffused and the hangover from the 50th Independence celebrations has waned. The honeymoon period for the government has long been over. The Bahamian people have given the Davis administration enough time to get their bearing and address the vexing issues that confront them. 

Our nation is facing crises on multiple fronts. Almost midway into its term in office, the PLP administration is fumbling and on the ropes as it tries to deal with the issues impacting the masses. We are facing a cost of living, crime, healthcare, immigration, governance infrastructure, and road crises, just to mention a few. Bahamians are looking for reasons to be optimistic and hopeful about the future of our country but the outlook seems bleak for many.

Government’s priorities

In recent times, it has been said that the government does not deem the full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as a priority because the focus is on the cost of living crisis. As the government approaches the latter part of its tenure, it is unconscionable that this administration has only just realized that there is a cost of living-crisis that needs to be given urgent attention. This suggests that the government has been disconnected from the plight of the average Bahamian and does not have its hands on the pulse of the masses who have been struggling to make ends meet since they assumed office in 2021.

Bahamians recall the comments made by Cabinet Ministers who blamed global inflationary pressures for the high cost of living but refused to provide relief in taxes or fees to alleviate the suffering. In fact, the imposition of VAT on breadbasket items by this administration makes them complicit in what has become a living crisis in our nation. In the same token, the high cost of living has not stopped the government from elaborate spending and embarking on lavish trips with large delegations.

The People’s Priorities 

Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as a government of the people, by the people and for the people. This definition encapsulates the true essence of democracy and the fact that the people must be at the center of any decisions or priorities of any democratic government. Political leaders miss the mark and display their disregard for democracy when they ignore the needs of the masses.

It is against this backdrop that the Bahamian people question the actions of our political leaders who pick and choose what to focus on for self-preservation or expediency. As a nation, we have had approximately one homicide per day in 2024, the roads are still bad, the quality and timeliness of healthcare delivery is bad, immigration remains a vexing issue, corruption, political cronyism and nepotism prevent the average Bahamian from having a fair chance and our people are living from hand to mouth with an unbearable tax burden. This is the plight and reality of the people.

What is the role of the Large Cabinet?

The Davis Cabinet has been described as one of the largest, if not the largest, Cabinet ever assembled in the history of The Bahamas. While many questioned the rationale for the Gussie Mae Cabinet, the government justified its size on the premise that much work needed to be done and they needed several hands on deck. Presumably, the Cabinet Ministers were appointed to make the load lighter and ensure that each ministry could be run effectively and efficiently. In essence, the Ministers were expected to ensure that multiple issues could be addressed at the same time and the work of the people could be done by people paid by taxpayers.

The explanation that all attention needed to be placed on one issue is bogus as it renders the need for all the various Cabinet Ministers unjustifiable. If we can only address one issue at a time, then the other Cabinet Ministers’ positions ought to be made redundant until we get to the issues within their portfolios. We don’t need figureheads and ceremonial heads in charge of the people’s business.

The Ultimate Cop Out

It is clear that the use of prioritization as a reason for placing important matters on the proverbial backburner is a bad attempt to avoid taking responsibility. It is the ultimate cop-out by a government that does not wish to address certain matters. After all, where there is a will, there is always a way. The Cabinet Ministers responsible for each issue should simply get to work and report back to Cabinet on progress made or not made. Any Minister who fails to perform should suffer the same fate as an employee who refuses to do his or her job, while high performers should be commended.

It is simple. The Minister of Finance should address the government’s finances, the cost of living crisis, the economy as a whole and provide a plan to get The Bahamas from junk bond status to investment grade. The Attorney General should follow through on the government’s legislative agenda to bring laws that make our lives better. The Minister of National Security must be held accountable for efforts aimed at tackling the crime crisis plaguing the nation. The Minister of Works needs to ensure that these deplorable roads endangering the lives of our people are fixed and government infrastructure is maintained. We can continue down the list of Ministers but I am sure the message is clear. The Bahamas government should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. No more excuses.

Written by: Arinthia S. Komolafe