NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Philip Davis yesterday asserted that The Bahamas is in a “significantly better place” than it was 12 months ago, noting that while his administration has completed much since taking office, “there remains to be a lot to do.”
Davis, while delivering an announcement to the House of Assembly marking his administration’s first 12 months in office said that 12 months ago the country was in a dire state, with the economy on the time headed for a fiscal cliff. He asserted that The Bahamas is in “a significantly 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 within the buildings,” Davis said.
“Schools were still going backwards and forwards between in-person and online learning, with 1000’s of scholars not attending classes in any respect. Bahamians were barred from leaving their houses within the evening. In 1000’s of homes, not a single adult was working, with an economy that was on life support after a series of lockdowns. All the pieces 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, in order that a New Day could dawn for The Bahamas. The accomplishments of the past 12 months have only been possible since the Bahamian people stepped up and progressed, and worked with us.
“We’re grateful for his or her trust and confidence, and the partnership we now have forged bodes well for the positive national development of The Bahamas. Yes, we now have completed lots in this primary 12 months, but there remains to be a lot to do.”
Davis said his administration is implementing multiple policies to handle the high cost of living within the country, noting that global inflationary pressures have made life unaffordable for a lot of Bahamian families. He noted that prior to now 12 months the federal government has reduced import duties on dozens of food items, including healthy options resembling fruit and veggies.
Davis said that his administration introduced free COVID-19 testing and distributed almost a 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 just the suitable thing to do for individuals who have done a lot to avoid wasting lives throughout 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 employees.
“We negotiated union agreements, with The Bahamas Educators, Counsellors, and Allied Staff Union; The Bahamas Customs, Immigration and Allied Staff Union; The Bahamas Union of Teachers, The Bahamas Nurses Union, The Bahamas Educators Managers Union. It’s important to notice that these negotiations resulted within the largest- ever remuneration for Bahamian employees. And we approved the return of annual increments for public servants together with a rise in public service pensions,” said Davis.
Davis noted that the federal government has committed thousands and thousands of dollars in new investments for food security initiatives, has commenced its reasonably priced housing initiative and has launched a programme to implement solar micro-grids, rooftop panels and other solar devices, that are to be deployed across multiple Family Islands. This he said will profit as much as 17,000 Bahamians.
The prime minister also noted that the federal government has increased the funding for social assistance by 50 percent in comparison with pre-pandemic levels. He also noted that the Revenue Enhancement Unit was re-established to gather over $1 billion in tax arrears through more efficient collection, more practical compliance measures, and enforcement of laws and that new carbon credits laws was passed, which is able to 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 federal government has passed new laws concerning digital assets, and expanded promotional efforts to draw leading Fintech, crypto and blockchain firms to the country.
He said that the federal government is implementing a broad range of policies to extend safety and security within the country.
“Now we have expanded the reach of Urban Renewal. Now 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 higher protect the country’s borders, with a new coastal radar having been commissioned on the Coral Harbour base.