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READ: The complete Speech from the Throne

Governor-General Sir Cornelius A Smith read the Speech from the Throne on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at Baha Mar’s convention centre.

Here is the complete speech:

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

Just twenty days ago, my Government was elected with a mandate to bring a couple of “New Day” in our Bahamas. It is evident from the outcomes of the election that Bahamians demand transformational change.

My Government comes into governance with our country within the midst of mismanaged health and economic crises.

My Government is committed to work in partnership with other nations, with our local communities and, most significantly, with the Bahamian people to handle the challenges that these crises pose.

Today My Government proposes our “Blue Print for Change”.

My Government will seek the advice of and be inclusive in our decision-making.

As a primary priority, my Government will, due to this fact, introduce laws and policies to totally address future major health risks to avoid the necessity for Emergency Orders.

My Government is committed to executing good governance, established on the principles of Transparency, Integrity & Accountability.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government fully understands that we cannot resolve our country’s economic crisis until we have now resolved the health crisis. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed lots of the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of our healthcare system.

My Government will make investments in healthcare infrastructure throughout The Bahamas and be sure that Family Island clinics are properly equipped, inclusive of the capability for telemedicine.

My Government will construct new hospitals in New Windfall and Grand Bahama through public-private partnerships.

My Government will prioritize public health and wellness initiatives and can move aggressively to introduce catastrophic healthcare insurance to make healthcare more cost-effective, and to handle the mental health issues in our country.

My Government also recognizes, applauds, and expresses its gratitude to the doctors, nurses, other frontline staff and volunteers for his or her meritorious and selfless service during this pandemic.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

The current economic crisis has left a trail of unprecedented misery among the many Bahamian people and our public funds in a dismal state.

Despite this bleak outlook, my Government will introduce measures that may bring immediate relief to the Bahamian people and to businesses.

My Government will amend the VAT Act to lower the speed of VAT across the board to 10 percent.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government will deal with issues that may rescue, restore, and strengthen the economy.

My Government will pursue strategies to handle the infrastructural needs of the country.

My Government will pursue measures to stabilize public funds and increase public revenue.

My Government will implement a Debt Management Plan to handle the historic debt burden and deficit.

My Government will amend ‘The Procurement Act’ to strengthen provisions for Bahamian participation in Government Procurement in any respect levels.

My Government will amend ‘The Fiscal Responsibility Act’ to strengthen the independence of the Fiscal Responsibility Council.

My Government will amend ‘The Public Financial Management Act ’to make sure full compliance with all existing laws.

My Government will amend the ‘Business Entreprises Act’ to be sure that when jobs are being filled, Bahamians receive the very best priority.

My Government may even introduce measures to encourage renewable energy industries in solar, wind, wave and ocean thermal energy.

My Government recommits The Bahamas to a minimum reliance on renewable energy by thirty percent by 2030.

My Government will introduce a ‘Merchant Shipping Bill’ to bring our jurisdiction in keeping with its international obligations, contemporary practices, and to reinforce our competitive edge in the worldwide maritime industry.

My Government will promote Grand Bahama to harness the ability of the maritime industry.

My Government strongly commits to introducing plenty of initiatives to support the expansion and development of the Cultural and Creative economy.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government will introduce measures to employ Junkanoo Culture and the visual performing arts to drive exports in music, costumes and art.

My Government will re-launch and formalize the “Sports in Paradise” programme to encourage major international sports federations and leagues to make use of The Bahamas as a base.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government is committed to achieving greater food security and reducing our reliance on imports as a matter of priority.

My Government will introduce a regulatory framework for the Cannabis Industry.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government will introduce laws to facilitate a comprehensive programme of digitization for the country.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government will restructure the Bahamas Investment Authority to streamline application processes and develop a new marketing strategy.

My Government seek the advice of with key stakeholders and appropriately amend laws to offer increased tax incentives and concessions for domestic investors.

My Government will transform approval processes and launch BahamasInvest to retain competitiveness and mobilise local and international investors to grow the economy.

My Government will return tourism to pre-Covid levels by harnessing existing markets.

My Government will develop an investment portfolio for the Family Islands to promote an investor-friendly environment with a deal with an investment portfolio for specialised industries.

My Government will undertake infrastructural upgrades throughout all the Islands of The Bahamas in an effort to create investment portfolios.

My Government will expand the availability of potable water and implement a national strategy for the management of water as a natural resource.

The Government will introduce a new and progressive Constructing Code to extend resilience within the face of Climate Change.

The Government will expedite the event of the airports in Exuma, Grand Bahama, and North Eleuthera and can advance the event of all major airports across The Bahamas through Public Private Partnerships.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly

At the same time as we vigorously pursue avenues of progress throughout our country, my Government is mindful that we’ll not leave behind probably the most vulnerable or discouraged people in our society.

My Government will enhance social assistance programmes.

My Government in collaboration with the private sector and nongovernmental organisations will implement immediate relief measures for Abaco, Grand Bahama and Ragged Island.

Through partnerships with Social Services, Urban Renewal and Civil Society, including the churches, my Government will work to be sure that every Bahamian has life skills, food to eat, clean water and a roof over their heads.

My Government will increase the pension for Senior Residents.

My Government will introduce laws for the protection of consumers.

My Government will increase the minimum wage and phase in a liveable wage.

My Government will increase the advantages for individuals with disabilities and ensure that the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Act are fully implemented and enforced.

My Government will re-introduce the RISE programme which provided substantial advantages to many families.

My Government will work with all stakeholders to bring relief to mortgage and rent payers to forestall a rise in and reduce homelessness.

My Government will introduce laws to offer for the establishment of an Urban Renewal Authority to enhance the standard of lifetime of residents throughout The Bahamas.

My Government will create a national Second-Probability’ jobs programme that allows those that have served prison time to enter the job market.

As an element of the Second Probability Programme, my Government will expunge the records of those young people convicted of minor offences related to the usage of marijuana, in order that they could more easily re-join the formal, productive economy.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government is fully committed to making sure that the residents of The Bahamas feel secure and secure and can address Crime and its associated social ills by adopting a holistic and multifaceted approach.

My Government will proceed to strengthen the Royal Bahamas Police Force to battle crime and preserve the peace; and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to higher defend our territorial sovereignty.

My Government will transform The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services right into a rehabilitative institution in alignment with its mandate.

My Government, after the broadest consultation with stakeholders, will seek to reform the electoral process in The Bahamas.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government is fully committed to making sure that our economy works for all Bahamians.

My Government will amend the Hotels Encouragement Act to offer higher incentives for Bahamian-owned and three way partnership boutique hotels and related tourism offerings.

My Government will introduce laws to create tax incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises owned by Bahamians.

My Government will re-establish harmonious tripartite relations between Labour, Employers, and the Government.

My Government will be sure that all labour issues are addressed as a matter of priority.

My Government will advance the general effectiveness of the Public Service through the expansion of coaching programs to help in proper skill set placement customer support and revenue enhancement, also by implementing digitization to provide efficiency in clearing backlogs throughout the Ministry and Public Service Commission.

In handling the buildup of pending matters, my Government will create room for new matters to be addressed immediately and consistently.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government considers housing to be a basic right. Through programmes and policies it is going to increase access to inexpensive homes.

New subdivisions might be developed using public-private partnerships. My Government will return to constructing houses for Bahamians.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government will work to be sure that the natural resources of The Bahamas profit our people.

My Government will strengthen laws that established a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

My Government proposes that every one of its non-financial assets might be held on this fund for the advantage of generations of Bahamians.

My Government will provide the legal, fiscal and regulatory framework with the creation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

My Government will secure Carbon Credit payments for our natural resources.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government strongly reaffirms that universal and equitable access to quality education is essential to our national development and to the fulfilment of all and sundry potentiality.

My Government is fully committed to support every young person in overcoming obstacles to digital learning, and to revive in-person lessons as soon because it is secure and practicable with health guidance.

My Government may even establish programmes for monitoring and assisting high school dropouts in order that immediate motion is taken to make sure they proceed to contribute to society as productive residents.

My Government will introduce measures to supply expand the curriculum offering and incorporate educational models that construct character, promote self-esteem and foster good citizenship for a deeper understanding and appreciation of our history.

My Government will be sure that the gap in access to education attributable to COVID-19 prevention protocols is closed with a comprehensive remediation programme to be sure that no child is left behind.

My Government will create Magnet Schools and specialty institutes for science, technology, engineering, the visual and performing arts, mathematics, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

My Government will amend the Education Act to offer for universal pre-primary education for three- and four-year olds, consolidate the National Accreditation and Equivalency Council of The Bahamas (NAECOB) and the Preschool and Day Care Council, and specify home-schooling modalities.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

The nice health and well-being of our youth is of prime concern to my Government. My Government will put money into their development, encourage and support their participation in national life, and supply and promote opportunities for his or her future.

My Government will create national programmes that tackle new threats to the well-being of young people, including problems with mental health, lack of self-confidence and identity, excessive social media consumption, and national identity and unity.

My Government will create a National First-Job’ programme that enables young people between the age of 16–25 to realize a one-year Government subsidised placement in a field of national priority, including the new economies and trade.

My Government will launch the Community Youth Service, and offer stipends for young Bahamians, to offer service to NGOs and community groups. This will construct an important bridge between school and the job market.

My Government will establish a National Youth Guard to ensure that young people to receive technical training enabling them to serve in a Disaster Response Corps.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government will capitalize on the continued successes of the commercial sector on Grand Bahama and use the investment arm of the Ministry for Grand Bahama to create a one-stop shop to draw new local and direct foreign investment by means of duty-free concessions across the whole island.

Family Island Affairs and Local Government are priorities for my Government. My Government will develop strategic plans for every island.

My Government will work towards the finalisation of a Local Government Act for New Windfall.

My Government will empower Local Government with revenue-raising powers and share jurisdiction over local affairs and community management and development.

My Government will increase the budget for Local Government Councils during our five-year term.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government is not going to tolerate corruption and is committed to introducing effective anticorruption laws.

My Government will govern for the numerous, not for the few, and promote the perfect interests of Bahamians and The Bahamas.

My Government will increase accountability and transparency.

My Government will fully implement the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

Measures might be introduced to amend the foundations of the House of Assembly to enable fixed sessions of parliament.

My Government will pursue a foreign policy that promotes and upholds our founding principles of democracy, human rights, and non-interference.

My Government will strengthen its engagement with the international community, becoming more strategic and deliberative in our participation in regional and international organisations.

In collaboration with neighbouring countries, my Government will work to strengthen our maritime borders, and seek regional solutions to common issues corresponding to migration.

My Government will deepen our relationships with our bilateral and international partners and produce focused attention to the promotion of trade and investment, and the availability of technical assistance.

My Government will expand its reach in the worldwide community by opening Consulates and Embassies, including the appointment of Honorary Consuls and Non-Resident Envoys in key areas of the world to be sure that our interests are promoted and protect.

Madame President and Honourable Senators,

Madame Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

These are the policies and plans upon which my Government will legislate so as to bring a couple of New Day in The Bahamas.

We stay up for working in partnership with the Bahamian people to bring a couple of healthier, wealthier and wiser society.

I pray that the blessings of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

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