Written by 9:46 pm Food

OUT OF CRISES: PM Davis outlines efforts to steer country forward

  • Minimum wage raised to $260

  • Progress on new hospital for NP

  • 38 items added to cost control list

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Philp Davis yesterday acknowledged the country was facing crises across multiple sectors as he announced relief measures to assist Bahamians shoulder the rising cost of living.

He said his administration had inherited “an economic crisis, a fiscal crisis, an education crisis, and a health crisis”.

He described the crime as a chronic issue that might not be resolved overnight, adding officials are pushing hard for immediate advances, “because we want to make people safer, now”.

Davis said the economy is finally moving in the precise direction from the snapping point when his administration took office.

He announced a rise within the national minimum wage from $210 to $260 per week that will probably be retroactive for public service employees from July of this yr. The rise is not going to take effect for the private sector until January 2023.

During his address, he applauded Bahamian pride, resilience, and accomplishments throughout the trying times following Hurricane Dorian, the pandemic, and inflation exacerbated by the war between Russia and Ukraine.

He said getting Bahamians back to work was the highest priority.

“Despite how hard these problems are, despite how intractable they could seem, I do know that if we come together, we are able to create real change.”

“[…] Only one yr into our term, we have now multiple billion dollars of new investments within the pipeline – projects which can create hundreds of new jobs across our islands.”

The prime minister pointed to significant arrears paid off to Bahamian businesses owed money from the federal government, a move that “injected over $100 million into our local economy and rescued many businesses from bankruptcy”.

He underscored the federal government’s efforts to chop import duties on dozens of food items, including many fruit and veggies, hire new price control inspectors, increase funding for social assistance by 50 percent in comparison with pre-pandemic levels, and supply substantial support to successful, church-led local feeding programs, amongst other initiatives.

Davis said 38 new items will probably be included in price controls, including diapers, and food like chicken, eggs, bread, bananas, apples, oranges, broccoli, onions, and potatoes.

“These things are being added for at the very least a six-month period, at which point we are going to review and evaluate the impact on businesses and consumers,” he said.

“We’re also reducing the profit margin on price-controlled drugs, providing additional relief to Bahamians.”

Davis emphasized his government’s give attention to investing in young Bahamians and entrepreneurs by promoting financial literacy and expanding access to technology.

He said the federal government will invest greater than $250 million in Bahamian-owned businesses this term.

As for healthcare, Davis outlined plans to recruit and train additional healthcare professionals in addition to upgrade medical infrastructure.

He said the general public could expect stakeholders to interrupt ground on a new $200 million hospital in Grand Bahama by the top of the yr.

Davis also announced officials have made “major progress” on securing each the land and the resources for a new hospital in New Windfall.

“Our capital has long needed an extra hospital to maintain up with expanding healthcare needs,” he said.

The new Revenue Enhancement Unit is targeting some $1 billion owed to the federal government in tax arrears, he said.

The Prime Minister addressed the Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) increases, reiterating the federal government’s decision to postpone the extra costs until the current fall season to reduce the burden on consumers because of lower usage.

He pointed to several ways BPL is working to cut back the impact of the rise including, VAT exemptions and plans for a 60-Megawatt solar farm within the capital.

In the course of the address, Davis reiterated that $6 million was put aside for military vessel investments.

He reiterated his stance on the country’s decision to not sign a declaration on regional migration on the Summit of the Americas earlier this yr, which included language that countries support and host undocumented migrants.

“We didn’t sign this declaration […] We want to devote Bahamian resources to solving Bahamian problems,” he said.

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