Prime Minister Dr. Hubert A. Minnis took his vision for a remodeled Over-the Hill community to the historic Bethel Baptist Church Wednesday night where scores of Bahamians got first-hand insight of the government’s policy objectives for the area.
With a primary focus on the White Paper, which was tabled in the House of Assembly (HOA) earlier this week, Dr. Minnis underscored the importance of the meeting and the value of the community’s input.
“I am pleased to see so many of you here tonight taking part in this process of consultation to give your feedback and voice your opinion on these plans,” Dr. Minnis said.
First introduces in the HOA on April 25, the White Paper outlines the government’s policy objectives for the rejuvenation of the historic Over-the-Hill community. After a two-month consultation process on the plans outlined, the White Paper was published in local newspapers.
Back in 2014, Dr. Minnis spoke of his vision to transform the inner city communities, not only for the Over-the-Hill area.
“My vision was broad, and included any areas experiencing issues such as high levels of crime, poverty and social decay,” he said.
“But as we all know, every journey begins with the first step, and what you are seeing today is the first step in that process.”
The prime minister also stressed that the proposal is not just a tax exemption plan, but a “bold new initiative” designed to provide financial assistance to residents and businesses in the area.
More importantly, he added, the White Paper outlines a plan to not just “give a man a fish”, but it presents a plan to “teach a man how to fish”. The White Paper seeks to do just that, lend a helping hand.
The plan calls for six key pillars, designed to fully restore the Over-the-Hill community communities.
These areas include:
• Social Empowerment;
• Economic Empowerment;
• Smart Technology;
• Green and Sustainable Technology; and
• Programmes for the Youth and the Elderly.
“While I am prepared to drive the process, my team will execute the action plan and ensure its full implementation,” the Prime Minister said.
For those persons and businesses outside the Bain and Grants Town, or Centerville zone, he urged them not to lose hope.
“As this is all new, we are simply beginning a process, to create a blueprint or model. We will reach out to other communities in due course,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that is confident that through this process, initiatives will be introduced, designed to restore these communities.
He encouraged residents to provide suggestions and give their feedback on how their respective communities can be improved.
“After all you are the ones who live in these communities,” the Prime Minister said.
Dr Nicola Virgill-Rolle, the Lead for the Government on the National Development Plan Vision 2040 and Director of Economic Development and Planning, and Marlon Johnson, Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance outlined various aspects of the project.