Statement by Michael Pintard, Bahamas Minister of Agriculture & Marine Resources
#Nassau, The Bahamas – From April 27, 2020 — Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the great Constituency of Marco City to which I have the honour to represent.
Mr. Speaker, The Cabinet of The Bahamas has determined that food production is especially crucial in these times. And that whatever measures we put in place must be sustained beyond Covid-19. We take seriously the mandate that has been given by the Prime Minister to fix outstanding issues that may exist along the entire value chain and supply chain to ensure that The Bahamas has adequate food resources and the right food resources for the health and wealth of our people.
Strengthening existing partners and working with stakeholders to reach common objectives will be critically important to weather this crisis. My Ministry continue to make ourselves available to hear the concerns of farmers and fishers and will be making deliberate efforts to use the available technology to reach out to farmers and fishers throughout the country.
Mister Speaker, the COVID-19 crisis is an important opportunity for Bahamians to make healthier food choices by increasing their consumption of fruit and vegetables. There has been unprecedented interest expressed in farming over the last few months. We are responding quickly and carefully. We are making every effort to make local products accessible and affordable.
- The Packing Houses remain operational in all our Family Island locations (Andros, Cat Island, Eleuthera, and Long Island). The Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation continues to operate the Produce Exchange and The Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Institute has continued local produce purchases. Both agencies have reoriented their marketing to make ‘value boxes’ available to persons on New Providence who may be facing financial challenges and have instituted the social distancing protocols to protect employees and customers. Extended hours have been added on Saturday to facilitate essential workers.
Additionally, ‘The Market’ at Gladstone Road has also been opened to allow purchase of domestic agricultural products.
- Mr. Speaker, the long overdue renovations to packing houses in San Andros, North Andros, Clarence Town, Long Island, and Lower Bogue, Eleuthera will commence 1st May, 2020. Contracts have already been signed in the amount of four hundred fifty four thousand eight hundred and forty dollars ($454,840.00) to renovate the packing houses in the aforementioned islands.
- Mr. Speaker, the slaughter house in New Providence has been closed from the initial COVID-19 Emergency Order on March 23rd, 2020. The Government, in consultation with the relevant authorities is seeking a gradual opening of the abattoir to allow for the slaughter of animals. We anticipate that the abattoir will reopen on Tuesday 28th April, 2020. We will upgrade this facility as a matter of urgency. The growth of the livestock sector depends on a national slaughterhouse system throughout the relevant islands engaged in animal husbandry.
- The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Marine Resources have maintained essential services to farmers and fishers during the period by providing reduced hours to facilitate urgent matters including facilitating import and export permits. The Veterinary Services will be implementing telemedicine for livestock farmers on New Providence and the Family Islands. The information on the times and link for services will be posted on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources.
- Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources (MAMR) has also produced an Emergency Food Production Plan to strengthen food and nutrition security in this time of crisis. It includes the assistance to farmers in the clearing of Agricultural Land of which one million eighteen thousand six hundred dollars ($1,018,600.00) has been allocated to farmers throughout The Bahamas with four hundred seventy-nine thousand six hundred dollars ($479,600.00) out of the said figure being allocated to Grand Bahama and Abaco (those islands devastated by Hurricane Dorian). These funds have already been sent to the affected islands.
- Mr. Speaker, my Ministry is in the process of purchasing and distributing some ten thousand (10,000) backyard gardening kits throughout The Bahamas. The kits will include seeds, seedling, fertilizer, drip line, and pro-mix along with guidelines of how to arrange a proper backyard gardening system. The distribution of these kits should begin in two weeks.
- Mr. Speaker, our Ministry is sourcing more than one thousand (1000) hydroponic systems which will be strategically placed throughout The Bahamas to assist with producing adequate supplies of vegetables especially leafy greens. The MAMR in collaboration with the Ministry of Education is adding an additional 22 hydroponics systems to the previously agreed upon number of hydroponics and aquaponics systems which will be placed in schools throughout The Bahamas.
- Mr. Speaker, two thousand layer chicks have been purchased from a local vendor and will be distributed to the Family Islands as soon as this week. This will provide additional protein and encourage farmers in the various communities to produce eggs for their local economy. Additionally, some five thousand (5000) layers are on order from a company in the United Stated and would be available within the next three weeks for distribution to New Providence farmers. On receipt of these birds/layers, it is intended to purchase an additional 5000 to 7000 layers to assist farmers further. The MAMR has begun planning to work with the sector about urgently upgrading the available hatcheries so that we can in the short to medium term dramatically increase egg production throughout the Bahamas especially on New Providence, Eleuthera, Abaco and Grand Bahama in phase one.
- The Ministry’s Food processing and Cooperative leadership in conjunction with BAIC and BAMSI and later with Home Economic Teachers and private enterprises will shortly lay out our plan to accelerate and scale up food processing and light manufacturing.
- Mr. Speaker, the Department of Marine Resources plays a pivotal role in the dietary consumption of seafood and the protection of our Marine Resources. During Hurricane Dorian, Marine Resources vessels were damaged/destroyed and we have already paid a 50% deposit of two hundred fifty-four thousand five hundred and twenty dollars ($254,520.00) for three vessels allocated for Bimini, Grand Bahama, and Abaco with which we expect to replace those vessels lost.
- Furthermore, we continue to discuss a plan of action to keep both subsistence and commercial fishers fully engaged in order to feed our nation and earn foreign currency. Discussions are underway to ensure the reopening of fish markets in a safe manner and the safe delivery of marine products to stores and customers.
- In addition, my Ministry is also in the process of partnering with the Ministry of Social Services, the Ministry of Health, The Ministry of National Security (Royal Bahamas Police Force), the Ministry of Transport and Local Government, the Ministry of Education and also food suppliers and wholesalers, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to launch the National Food Distribution Program to ensure, as the Prime Minister stated, that no vulnerable person is left behind.
Mr. Speaker, the program will target Senior Citizens and Disabled, Persons receiving Social Services Assistance, Students on the School Lunch Program and Furloughed Workers. Mr. Speaker, the distribution will include a number of dried goods but even more importantly Bahamian grown fruits and vegetables, Bahamian marine products, Bahamian jams, jellies, honey, Bahamian meats, Bahamian soaps, etc.
- Mr. Speaker in order to ensure that adequate animal feed and agriculture inputs are available to farmers in the various islands and that we reduce wastage in the movement of agriculture and marine products our Ministry is documenting available dry, cool and cold storage space.
- Since we last met we have begun to forge important partnerships upon which we will build. We are excited about the meetings held with church leaders about national and local agriculture projects we will work on together. We are encouraged by the initial meeting with the new generation of agro-youth professionals who are committed to the full incorporation of new technologies in all aspects of agriculture and marine resources. We intend to assist them in several key areas as they assist the sector. Our discussions with approximately 16 Agriculture educators resulted in several key commitments on both sides. I and the Ministry team have participated in more than two Ministerial meeting with Ministers throughout the region sharing best practices and plugging the data gap. We are in ongoing discussions with the leaders in the fishing and farming sector.
These are challenging times at a national and personal level for our entire nation. Constituents and staff members have lost loved ones and other staff, in every section of the ministry, (Department of Agriculture, Department of Marine Resources, Cooperatives, Regatta, BAIC, BAMSI, and BAHFSA), and despite these difficult circumstances show up to work daily and on weekends. I am indeed grateful to them and to the farmers and fishers throughout the archipelago for their dedication and support.
Thank you, Mister Speaker, for this opportunity to update the Honourable House.
PRESS RELEASE: Prime Minister Minnis Thanks Bahamians for the Last Four Years
#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.
BAHAMAS: PM Philip Davis Swearing In Speech
THE HON. PHILIP DAVIS, M.P., QC,
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 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.
EPIC ELECTION! 39 chosen from HUGE field of 228 Candidates, PLP WINS
#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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