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Bahamas Senate: The 2020 Mid Year Budget Communication by Senator Dion Foulkes

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Madam President, Senate Colleagues:

I wish to borrow a phrase from our Prime Minister The Most Honourable Dr. Hubert Minnis who in his recent national address to the nation on the Hurricane Dorian Restoration Efforts stated and I quote, “We are One Bahamas, One people, one nation! When any part of our Commonwealth is affected, we are all affected.”

Madam President

I sincerely believe this statement to be true, that is why my Ministry has, over the last few months, worked aggressively to ensure that we continue to make life better for all Bahamians and residents of The Bahamas by following through with our mission to provide Decent Work while at the same time fostering good industrial harmony between Employees and Employers. We are continuing to promote high levels of employment, productivity, human rights, and the Decent Work Agenda in accordance with international standards.

Madam President

I wish to take a few minutes to highlight some of the accomplishments of the Ministry of Labour which comprises The Department of Labour, The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality, The Consumer Protection Commission, The Prices Commission, The Consumer Affairs Division, and The National Training Agency.   I will also take a few minutes to appraise you of the wonderful joint project between the Government of The Bahamas and the IDB called The Skills for Current and Future Jobs Programme and then briefly on work of the National Tripartite Council.

Madam President

I am happy to report that the Department of Labour Offices in Grand Bahama and Abaco are now operational after being temporarily closed due to significant damages received from Hurricane Dorian. The Grand Bahama Office re-opened on October 28th of last year and the Abaco Office re-opened on January 16th of this year. Residents of those communities can now once again enjoy the many services provided by the Department of Labour and the Consumer Affairs Division.

Public Employment Services

Madam President

The Public Employment Services Unit (PES) of the Department of Labour has further enhanced its online platform to join job seekers with companies seeking to achieve their staffing/ employment goals.

The new platform allows companies to review resumes and they are also able to give feedback on perspective candidates.

Trade Disputes & Complaints

Madam President, the Department of Labour continues to focus its attention on providing an effective conciliation process whereby trade disputes are resolved in an efficient, effective, and timely manner. Madam President, in New Providence during 2019, 870 Trade Disputes were filed at the Department of Labour compared with 924 cases in 2018.  401 were resolved, 290 are pending, 63 withdrew and 116 were referred to the Industrial Tribunal.

In the Family Islands, there were a total of 278 Trade Disputes filed with the Department of Labour compared with 283 cases in 2018. 86 were resolved. 132 are pending. 8 withdrew and 52 were referred to the Industrial Tribunal.

In New Providence 1,771 Complaints were filed with the Department of Labour in 2019 compared with 1501 in 2018.  Of these Complaints, 1,288 were resolved, 293 were referred, 27 withdrew and 163 are pending.

In the Family Islands a total of 718 Complaints were filed with the Department of Labour compared with 428 in 2018. 573 were resolved. 47 were referred. 2 withdrew and 96 are pending.

Madam President, this year myself and the team at the Ministry of Labour and the Department of Labour successfully intervened and brought to a successful conclusion a five year industrial agreement between the management of Morton Salt and the Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union after being at a stalemate for several years. Madam President, it is our hope that our labour professionals at the Department of Labour will continue to intervene in long outstanding industrial matters in an effort to bring management and employees to the table and resolve outstanding industrial disputes and agreements.

It is our hope to foster an environment of industrial harmony in our country.

Madam President

The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) is mandated by virtue of its Standards Act (2006) to promote effective and efficient standardization of all goods and services (manufactured or imported) in The Bahamas, through  the formulation of and/or adoption of international or regional standards. This is necessary:

  • to support sustainable development,
  • to benefit and protect the health, safety and welfare of consumers and the environment,
  • to facilitate domestic and international trade, and
  • to further international cooperation.

The BBSQ is also mandated by its Weights and Measures Act (2006) to regulate all measurement activities that have a bearing on trade within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Madam President

My Ministry continues to enhance the operations of the BBSQ so that it can continue to implement quality infrastructure services in standards, metrology and conformity assessment initiatives.  My Ministry is currently enhancing its staffing complement with the proposed addition of a Senior HR Officer, Finance Officer, and additional Metrologists and technical officers.  These efforts will put the BBSQ in a better position to carry out its mandate.

Madam President

One major initiative that we started last year is the Private-Public partnership between my Ministry, The BBSQ and EAA Company Ltd of Japan. This Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) programme ensures that ALL used vehicles being imported from Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates are inspected and meet approved quality standards before being shipped to The Bahamas.

This PVoC programme has played a significant role in the detection and prevention of sub-standard used vehicles being imported into our country; and it has proven to be self-reliant for the Bureau of Standards.  In other words Madam President, for every car inspected by EAA Company, the BBSQ receives $20.00 per vehicle from the inspection charge.

Madam President

Our Government will no longer allow the practice of dumping non-roadworthy vehicles on our roads to endanger the lives of Bahamian road users.

Since the implementation of the PVoC programme in March 2019, we can report that a total of 11,691 used units have been pre-inspected as of February 2020, this averages approximately 1,000 units monthly.

Madam President the agreement between the Ministry of Labour, the BBSQ and the EAA Company Limited in Japan for the extension of this relationship will be signed in a matter of days. The new agreement was negotiated for a further three years and our contribution from inspection fees charged will increase from $20.00 to $40.00 per vehicle. We have also asked EAA to look at a similar vehicle inspection programme for vehicles coming from the United States into The Bahamas.

Madam President, I am happy to report that The Bahamas is second in the Caribbean next to Jamaica in leading the way with the introduction of such a PVoC programme.

Marketing, Communication and Awareness Campaign

Madam President, the BBSQ is continuing with its three year strategic agenda started in 2019 to provide a more heightened awareness and education campaigns aimed at enlightening the public on the overall role of BBSQ, and the important work it undertakes through its various activities.

We intend to continue to roll out infomercials, some are currently being aired on ZNS, Cable Bahamas, and ILTV TV stations, and on the radio. The BBSQ will continue bringing awareness through sensitization meetings, forums and through international observances such as World Standards Day, World Metrology Day, and World Accreditation Day.

Further, the BBSQ will also embark on developing its first promotional booklet, dedicated specifically for Primary School students. The Booklet hopes to bring awareness to the significance of standards and quality and how these affect our everyday lives.

Enhancing the Metrological capabilities in The Bahamas

Madam President

In order to ensure accurate and reliable measurements for trade, health, safety, and the environment, the BBSQ has procured a forty (40) foot laboratory container to enhance its capabilities. The lab will provide Calibration services in mass and volume, weights and measurements, and in industrial metrology.

Madam President,

In keeping with the Government’s commitment to ensure the full protection of consumers throughout the length and breadth of The Bahamas, my Ministry and its various agencies: The Consumer Protection Commission (CPC), Prices Commission, and the Consumer Affairs Unit, have embarked on an aggressive educational campaign to inform consumers of their legal rights with respect to goods and services that they purchase or use.

The Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) has as its mandate “To empower consumers and spread awareness about consumer rights, consumer protection and regulations towards building a well-informed community of discerning consumers.”  The mission is aimed at protecting consumers from fraudulent business practices as well as equipping consumers with relevant, up-to-date and accurate information about their rights in a dynamic market environment.

During this past year the CPC has held campaigns and programmes to educate the public on how to file complaints. The Board and Staff of CPC took to the streets distributing brochures and pamphlets at various roundabouts and intersections. CPC also participated in two trade exhibitions, which also expanded its outreach to educate the consumers.

In January 2020, CPC held a very successful One-Day Consumer Symposium under the theme: ‘Consumers, Do you Know Your Rights?’ This symposium brought together all of the Consumer agencies under the Ministry of Labour – Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ); and Prices Commission and Consumer Affairs Unit. It also included panelists from Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) and the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA). CPC intends to follow up with a second symposium in May 2020 and many more.

Going forward CPC, BBSQ and Prices Commission will continue the campaign to educate consumers in the Family Islands with particular emphasis in the near term on visits to Grand Bahama, Exuma, Abaco and Bimini.

Madam President

World Consumer Day

The CPC, in partnership with its sister agencies Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ), Prices Commission and Consumer Affairs, will once again come together to spearhead and coordinate activities to commemorate World Consumer Rights Day 2020 in The Bahamas. Consumers International has announced that the theme for  World Consumer Rights Day 2020,    to be held in March 2020, will be ‘The Sustainable Consumer’. The campaign will discuss the need for sustainable consumption globally, as well as highlight the important role that consumer rights and protection can play. Our agencies will be incorporating this theme in the activities being organized.

THE PRICES COMMISSION

Madam President

During the year 2019, there have been numerous cases in New Providence and the Family Islands of merchants committing price infractions on the breadbasket list of food items. These cases are considered to be serious breaches of the Price Control Act and the Prices Commission is actively pursuing these matters in conjunction with the relevant law enforcement authorities. The Prices Commission has also beefed up its presence in the Family Island and will be conducting surprise visits on various islands. The Bahamian public can rest assured that the Prices Commission is fully committed to protecting the consumers’ wellbeing.

CONSUMER AFFAIRS UNIT

Madam President

I wish to commend the hardworking and dedicated staff of the Consumer Affairs Unit which principal mandate is to police the entire Bahamian marketplace to ensure that the Price Control Act/Regulations are being complied with and consumers are receiving the protection intended by law.

Officers are also charged with the responsibility of serving as agents for the Consumer Protection Commission to ensure that consumers who may experience challenges with the providers of goods and services can find redress at the Commission.

Over the past year the Consumer Affairs Unit has been very active in educating consumers of their rights and responsibilities and will continue to do so in the ensuing months.

Madam President

I would like to point out that due to Hurricane Dorian the Consumer Affairs Office in Grand Bahama was totally destroyed by flood waters. To date the office space has been totally renovated.

In Abaco, two Officers from the Abaco office were reassigned to Nassau after the hurricane. Since the office has been repaired, there is a presence not back in Abaco.  It is anticipated that two Price Inspectors and a Filing Assistant will be engaged shortly.

The Consumer Affairs Unit in Bimini will be relocated to the new Government complex and it is anticipated that two individuals will be engaged.

Madam President,

The National Training Agency (NTA) is charged with the responsibility of workforce development with a keen focus on training our nation’s youth, those between the ages of 16-30 who are unemployed and currently unprepared for the workforce, to take advantage of existing and emerging job opportunities.

Over the last year the NTA continued to positively impact the lives of young Bahamians, providing them with certifications and assisting them with fulltime employment. The Agency has expanded its reach and has been strategic in offering training opportunities that meet the needs of today’s workforce. These expansions include greater collaboration with industry leaders and job providers, improved relationships with the target audience in the inner cities, improvements in its core offerings, assessments and delivery systems, and an overall improvement in the use of modern technology.

Specific results over the last year are as follows:

  • 532 young Bahamians trained in Soft Skills, workforce preparedness and certified in various skills including Food and Beverage, Butler Services, Information Technology, Web Designs, Microsoft Office, Allied Health Care, Housekeeping and Dive & Fishing Level 1.
  • Overall job placement rate of 52% of individuals trained.
  • Expanded the list of qualified NTA Assessors and Tutors by 18. All of whom are City and Guilds Certified.
  • Launched the NTA Online Training Platform, Brightspace, that has the capability of training Bahamians throughout the Family of Islands.
  • Expanded the list of Approved City and Guilds qualifications offered at the NTA by 4.
  • Reduced overall dependence on Government funding by 40% due to revenue generation initiatives.
  • Expanded the list of approved training providers by 2
  • Assisted with the recruitment of more than 150 Bahamians for full time employment with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and MSC.
  • Successfully certified 6 Bahamians in Leadership and team skills at the NTA Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).
  • Partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Science in offering the 1st cohort of training in Dive and Fishing Level 1. 28 young Bahamians, male and females obtained PADI certifications- (Open Water, Advanced Open Water and Rescue). Madam President,

As you are aware the National Tripartite Council was formally enacted into statute on March 3, 2015 and was established to serve as a forum for labour and industrial relations in The Bahamas.

The Council, Madam President has done significant work over the past year including, but not limited to:

  •         Recommendation to enact National Productivity Legislation and the establishment of a National Productivity Council.
  • Recommendations to facilitate transferring of the functions of The Bahamas Industrial Tribunal to the Civil Division of the Supreme Court.
  • Final Report and recommendations on the National Child Labour Policy. 
  • Recommendation to a process to facilitate the creation of the Bahamas’ Second Generation Decent Work Country Programme with the ILO to provide one hundred and seventy thousand dollars ($170,000.00) in Technical Assistance.
  • In February 2020 the Council formally began the process to review the possibility of increasing the National Minimum Wage.

Madam President,

The Skills for Current & Future Job Programme is a joint project between the Government of the Bahamas and the Inter-American Development Bank and is designed to reduce unemployment by increasing and improving the access to quality jobs.

The primary objective of the Programme is to increase employability and quality of employment to beneficiaries by improving access to quality jobs in The Bahamas, especially for youth. The Programme has the following specific Components and objectives:

  • Component 1 – Increase relevant skills, employability and productivity of participants through Apprenticeships, 
  • Component 2 – Improve the effectiveness of the Public Employment Services, and
  • Component 3 – Enhance the capacity of the labour market’s intelligence, monitoring and evaluation systems with software investment.

The programme, which is a major component of the Government’s Plan to improve the standard of living and quality of life for Bahamian citizens, is being managed by a Steering Committee and the Ministry of Labour is the leading government agency responsible for the implementation of the Programme.

Madam President,

As I close, I wish to commend my dedicated and hard-working team at the Ministry of Labour headed by Mr. Reginald Saunders, Permanent Secretary (Acting), Senior Undersecretary William Pratt, and Deputy Permanent Secretary (Acting) Mr. Ricardo Deveaux and our Executive Manager Mr. Robert Farquharson. I also wish to commend the hard-working management and staff at the Department of Labour, led by Director (Acting) Mr. John Pinder, the National Training Agency, led by Mr. Gadville McDonald, The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality, led by Dr. Renae Ferguson-Bufford, The Prices Commission, The Consumer Protection Commission, and the Consumer Affairs Division. 

I also wish to thank the respective boards and committees for the tireless work that they do to ensure that the Bahamian interest are served.

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PRESS RELEASE: Prime Minister Minnis Thanks Bahamians for the Last Four Years

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#TheBahamas, September 18, 2021 – Free National Movement (FNM) Party Leader, Hubert A. Minnis thanked Bahamians for the last four years in tonight’s concession speech:

“Tonight I spoke with Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Philip Davis and offered my congratulations to him and his party on their victory at the polls.  I offered him my best wishes as his Government now faces the continued fight against COVID-19, and the restoration of our economy.

I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Bahamians from across The Bahamas who voted for Free National Movement candidates.  I also congratulate the FNM candidates who won seats in the House of Assembly.  I am in that number, and again my gratitude goes out to the people of Killarney for making me their representative for the fourth consecutive time.

I will lead the Free National Movement into the House as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.  The Bahamas has a proud democratic tradition.  The people decide who serves as government.  Our party presented its vision for the future to Bahamians from the northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, all the way to the southern islands of MICAL.

The people determined that they preferred the Progressive Liberal Party.  My party and I accept that result.  We are proud of our record the past four-plus years.

During our term we faced the most difficult times in Bahamian history.  In September 2019, Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama were struck by the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas.  Hurricane Dorian was one of the strongest storms recorded on our planet.  It caused generational destruction to our northern islands.  Six months later, we were in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout each crisis my Government worked hard to assist the Bahamian people.  On the northern islands we have had to rebuild roads, water systems, schools, docks, bridges and other critical infrastructure.

In the pandemic, we provided tens of millions of dollars per month in food and unemployment benefits to citizens, along with tax credits to businesses.  We fought hard to secure more than half a million doses of three of the best vaccines in the world.

The FNM has a proud legacy.  We have governed The Bahamas over four terms.  Our philosophy is to use the resources of government to provide opportunity to those who have historically been without.  That is why we invested in free preschool, providing early education to thousands of children. That is why we invested in free tertiary education at the University of The Bahamas and BTVI.

That is why we created the Over-the-Hill initiative to benefit people in grassroots communities with tax concessions and development assistance.  That is why we invested record amounts in Family Island infrastructure.  That is why we created the Small Business Development Centre, extending millions of dollars to help Bahamians realize their dreams.

Our belief in the Bahamian people was also evidenced in the manifesto we ran on in this election.  We pledged a Universal School Meals Program, expanded access to afterschool programs, $250 million to Bahamian small businesses over five years, expanded access to Crown Land, support for the arts and agriculture and fisheries, along with many more policies for the people.

We did not win this time.   But I say to the next generation of FNMs that you should stay firm to this party’s founding ideals.  Always put the people first, and be honest in government.

The people have asked us to be the opposition.  We will ensure the people’s resources are spent properly. We will ensure there is accountability.  We will oppose when necessary. We will agree when the Government’s plans are in the best interests of the people.

I thank my wife Patricia and my family for supporting me during this term, and throughout my life.  I also thank the officers, members and supporters of the Free National Movement for their assistance and encouragement during my time as leader.

And to the Bahamian people, I say a warm and heartfelt thank you for my time being your Prime Minister.  You are a strong, hardworking and resilient people.  Hurricane Dorian did not break you. The pandemic has not broken you.

You trust in the God who has brought us this far.  Trust that He will bring us further to brighter times.  Again, thank you. And may God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

 

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BAHAMAS: PM Philip Davis Swearing In Speech

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REMARKS BY

THE HON. PHILIP DAVIS,  M.P., QC,

PRIME MINISTER

ON THE OCCASION OF

HIS CEREMONIAL SWEARING-IN AS

PRIME MINISTER OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2021

BAHA MAR BALLROOM

 

 

Your Excellency, the Governor-General; First

Lady, Ann Marie Davis, Deputy Prime Minister

Elect, I. Chester Cooper and Mrs. Cooper, Honourable and Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

I wish to thank the Bahamian people who turned out and voted resoundingly for change.

As I said on Thursday night, you voted with brave hearts, and you voted with hearts full of hope for our country.

It was unfortunate that many Bahamians who wished to participate in this election were not able to do so. It was the first time in modern Bahamian history that so many voters were disenfranchised – and I hope it is the last. The right to vote is the essential right in a democracy.

Our new administration comes into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.

In recent months, as I travelled the length and breadth of our beautiful country, many people shared with me their stories of hardship and need and despair.

Against that backdrop, we face the many crises borne out of the Covid-19 pandemic: tragic numbers of our people are becoming ill and dying; our hospitals in a state of collapse; our doctors and nurses and other frontline workers pleading for support to shore up our healthcare system.

The economy is also in decline, as we face an historically high deficit and debt. The news of the downgrade yesterday underscores the severity of the fiscal crisis and the urgency of moving quickly to address it.

The challenges in education also deeply concern me. Thousands of young Bahamians have missed out on their education during the past few years, first because of the displacement caused by Hurricane Dorian, then because of the way the Covid-19 crisis has been managed.  These are indeed big challenges.

Some have questioned why we want to serve when the problems are so difficult.  But my team and I offered ourselves for public service precisely because these problems are so difficult – and precisely because we believe that we have the right vision, the right policies, and the right team to take this country forward.  We will not fail if we keep the best interests of the Bahamian people as our guiding north star.

As a young boy growing up in Cat Island, I faced many hardships and obstacles.  I know what it is to be poor.

As a young man trying to find his first job, I faced doors that seemed always slammed shut.  I know what it is to feel disappointment.  As a lawyer trying to build a practice, I missed out on many opportunities because I didnt have the right connections.

I know what its like to be on the outside looking in.  In my family life, I know the ups and downs of raising children and sending them out into the world.  I am determined to take the wisdom gained from these experiences and use it to help others.  It is possible to overcome.  It is possible to work hard and succeed.  It is possible to forgive.  And it is possible to bring about the changes you wish to see.

These are the values that will inform my decisions in office.  In just under two years time, we will celebrate fifty years of The Bahamas being a fully independent, sovereign nation.  We must begin to deliver more purposefully the promise of Independence.   Independence is more than freedom from rule by others.  It is the defining purpose of our country, which says that every one of us is entitled to reach our fullest potential.

And so each day we will ask ourselves: What can we do to ensure that the aspirations and hopes of the Bahamian people are translated into opportunities and paths to success?  Deep in my heart I know that with God, all things are possible”.

If we work together, towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are indeed possible for our country and our people.  But no government can do great things on its own.  I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people.

We are going to listen.

We are going to consult widely.

And we are going to bring people together.

That is the best way to make progress as a nation.  No leader and no government should be isolated from the people.

I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable.  We will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few.  We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people.  We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that its not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people.

There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us.  It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there.

I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon us all, and in the words of St. Francis, “make us instruments of your peace; where there is discord, let me bring union; where there is doubt, let me bring faith; where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is sadness, let me bring joy.”

I thank God for having blessed us with this beautiful country, and the bountiful birthright which we have inherited.

I thank the many people over the years who have supported me to this moment, where I am able to step into servant leadership for the benefit of the Bahamian people.

I thank my family, especially my wife Ann, and my children, my siblings, Alvin, Don, Craig and Trevor, my one and only sister, Diane, who every day continue to give me so much love and support.

And I thank the Bahamian people who have placed their faith and confidence in me and my team.

 

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EPIC ELECTION!  39 chosen from HUGE field of 228 Candidates, PLP WINS

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#TheBahamas, September 18, 2021 – Concluding with another sweeping swing, Bahamians for the fifth consecutive General Election have made the swap between the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) and this time, the Hubert Minnis-led FNM Administration saw the curtain close dramatically on its performance in exchange for the ‘New Day’ alternative presented by Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, leader of the PLP.

The polls closed at 6pm, the call to concede came at 9 pm.  Just as the general elections came in a snap for The Bahamas, so did the realization for Dr. Hubert Minnis that his Free National Movement party failed to recapture the majority of seats in parliament and just like that, Philip Brave Davis became the prime minister elect for The Bahamas.

“We are going to listen. We are going to consult widely. And we are going to bring people together. That is the best way to make progress as a nation. No leader and no government should be isolated from the people. I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable. We will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few. We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people. We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it s not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people,” said Hon Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in remarks at his Ceremonial Swearing in which took place at the Baha Mar Ballroom on (today) Saturday September 18, 2021.

In epic fashion this year’s elections unraveled and in equally stunning loss, the FNM was resoundingly rejected.  The party held onto only seven constituencies; the PLP racking up 32 seats in the House of Assembly.  In 2017, the split was four to the PLP and 35 members of parliament for the FNM.

It was a polling day which observers believe has drawn the lowest voter turn-out in history and one which ratified the highest number of candidates of any voting day.

There were 228 individuals who offered for the 39 seats.  Added to the fray were virtually unknown organisations like the UCP, BCP, the KGM and the GCP; more familiar to Bahamians as an alternative to the usual PLP and FNM offering were the Coalition of Independents (COI), just several months old and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), making its third appearance on the ballots.

The Parliamentary Registration Department informed there were 192,587 registered voters across the archipelago; 20,000 of them new.  However, a staggering number of people were not registered as they were caught off guard by the surprise announcement of September 2021 as Election Day instead of a May 2022.

The Parliamentary Registration Department was plunged – ready or not – into a snap process, having to manage a highly contentious race in the midst of the killer coronavirus pandemic.

“I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Bahamians from across The Bahamas who voted for Free National Movement candidates. I also congratulate the FNM candidates who won seats in the House of Assembly. I am in that number, and again my gratitude goes out to the people of Killarney for making me their representative for the fourth consecutive time. I will lead the Free National Movement into the House as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. The Bahamas has a proud democratic tradition. The people decide who serves as government,” expressed Dr. Hubert Minnis, in his Concession Speech on the night of the election September 16, 2021.

Hubert Minnis for the fourth consecutive time won the majority of votes, to hold onto the Killarney Constituency.

“We did not win this time. But I say to the next generation of FNMs that you should stay firm to this party’s founding ideals. Always put the people first, and be honest in government. The people have asked us to be the opposition. We will ensure the people’s resources are spent properly. We will ensure there is accountability. We will oppose when necessary. We will agree when the Government’s plans are in the best interests of the people,” said Dr. Minnis in an issued statement.

The outgoing prime minister was criticised for his cowardly exit; again dodging media cameras, scrutiny and a live audience.  It also remains to be seen if indeed Dr. Minnis will return as the Leader of the Opposition, given his decisive loss as leader.

With his New Day was the theme guiding his first declarations to Bahamians as the fifth prime minister of the Commonwealth, Brave Davis assured there is no easy work ahead, but pledged results with the Bahamian people remaining the PLP’s north star.

“There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us. It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there. I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon us all, and in the words of St. Francis, “make us instruments of your peace; where there is discord, let me bring union; where there is doubt, let me bring faith; where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is sadness, let me bring joy.

I thank God for having blessed us with this beautiful country, and the bountiful birthright which we have inherited.”

Independents and other political parties made more of an impression in the 2021 national poll than ever before, however none was able to breakthrough to earn a seat at the parliamentary table.

“We didn’t step forward to become famous or for self-recognition. We didn’t step forward for our own families to be victimized and threatened. We didn’t step forward for our names to be lied on and smeared.We stepped forward because we believed and still do in the Bahamian people,” said Lincoln Bain, leader of the COI, which in its debut rolled in as the third most popular party, he added, “We will continue this fight because we are not a flash in the frying pan organization. We will continue the fight until EVERY Bahamian has benefited from our #NaturalResources.”

The election was observed by CARICOM observers led by former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

Official General Election results are still being processed by the Parliamentary Registration Department.

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