“STILL SO MUCH TO DO”: PM says country in a “much better place” than it was 12 months ago

“STILL SO MUCH TO DO”: PM says country in a “much better place” than it was 12 months ago
Prime Minister Philip Davis (BIS Photos/ Kemuel Stubbs)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Philip Davis yesterday asserted that The Bahamas is in a “much better place” than it was 12 months ago, noting that while his administration has accomplished much since taking office, “there is still so much to do.”

Davis, while delivering a statement to the House of Assembly marking his administration’s first year in office said that 12 months ago the country was in a dire state, with the economy at the time headed for a fiscal cliff. He asserted that The Bahamas is in “a much better place” than it was 12 months ago.

“Hospitals remained under extreme pressure, with patients treated in parking lots, severe shortages of doctors and nurses, and regular leaks and flooding in the buildings,” Davis said.

“Schools were still going back and forth between in-person and online learning, with thousands of students not attending classes at all. Bahamians were barred from leaving their houses in the evening. In thousands of homes, not a single adult was working, with an economy that was on life support after a series of lockdowns. Everything was stalled in Abaco and Grand Bahama; hope was in very short supply.”

He continued: “This was the state of the nation in September 2021:A fiscal crisis. A health care crisis. An education crisis. And an economic crisis. We got right to work, so that a New Day could dawn for The Bahamas. The accomplishments of the past 12 months have only been possible because the Bahamian people stepped up and stepped forward, and worked with us.

“We are grateful for their trust and confidence, and the partnership we have forged bodes well for the positive national development of The Bahamas. Yes, we have accomplished a lot in this first year, but there is still so much to do.”

Davis said his administration is implementing multiple policies to address the high cost of living in the country, noting that global inflationary pressures have made life unaffordable for many Bahamian families. He noted that in the past year the government has reduced import duties on dozens of food items, including healthy options such as fruits and vegetables. 

Davis said that his administration introduced free COVID-19 testing and distributed almost one million free medical-grade masks, hired more doctors and nurses, and has begun to upgrade local clinics. 

“Our commitment continues, with new industrial agreements with the Bahamas Nurses Union, which include salary increases and retention bonuses. This is simply the right thing to do for those who have done so much to save lives during the pandemic, often at great personal risk to themselves,” Davis said. 

He also noted that his administration has settled and continues to settle outstanding promotions and regularizations for public sector workers.

“We negotiated union agreements, with The Bahamas Educators, Counsellors, and Allied Workers Union; The Bahamas Customs, Immigration and Allied Workers Union; The Bahamas Union of Teachers, The Bahamas Nurses Union, The Bahamas Educators Managers Union. It is important to note that these negotiations resulted in the largest- ever remuneration for Bahamian workers. And we approved the return of annual increments for public servants along with an increase in public service pensions,” said Davis. 

Davis noted that the government has committed millions of dollars in new investments for food security initiatives, has commenced its affordable housing initiative and has launched a programme to implement solar micro-grids, rooftop panels and other solar devices, which are to be deployed across multiple Family Islands. This he said will benefit up to 17,000 Bahamians.

The prime minister also noted that the government has increased the funding for social assistance by 50 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels. He also noted that the Revenue Enhancement Unit was re-established to collect over $1 billion in tax arrears through more efficient collection, more effective compliance measures, and enforcement of laws and that new carbon credits legislation was passed, which will enable The Bahamas to be compensated for the role that our mangroves and seagrasses play in eliminating carbon from the atmosphere. 

Davis also noted that the government has passed new legislation concerning digital assets, and expanded promotional efforts to attract leading Fintech, crypto and blockchain firms to the country. 

He said that the government is implementing a broad range of policies to increase safety and security in the country.

“We have expanded the reach of Urban Renewal. We have dramatically increased recruitment into the Defence Force, Police Force, and Department of Immigration,” he said.

Davis said $6 million has been allocated for new Defence Force vessels, to better protect the country’s borders, with a  new coastal radar having been commissioned at the Coral Harbour base.