#NASSAU, The Bahamas – November 5, 2020 — Despite the toll that COVID-19 has had on operations at the Road Traffic Department (RTD), operations have continued to advance. Minister of Labour, Transport & Local Government, the Hon. Dion Foulkes, during his address to the nation, said that the staff continues to re-engineer its services to provide greater efficiency in this ‘new normal’.
“One of the positive outcomes has been the implementation of the drive-through system which has sought to reduce the need for ‘in-person’ interaction; eliminating the congestion of long lines and the resultant overflow of customers wishing to access the Department’s services,” he said. “With the continued lockdowns, this aspect of the Department’s revised service delivery continues to work smoothly.”
He said that recognizing the importance of servicing motorists in these challenging times, a satellite agency will soon be reopened on New Providence for licensing and inspection of vehicles. This Road Traffic facility will be located at West Bay Street, adjacent to Clifford Park.
Additionally, he said that other measures have been taken to boost customer service at the department. “It is important to note that the IT Unit adapted to ongoing restrictions presented by the Emergency Orders and assisted the Driver’s License Section with the issuance of Driver’s License Renewal, Learners Permits and Foreign License Transfers by way of the Traffic Management System (TMS).”
Additionally, a system for clients to renew their Driver’s License without having to come into the Department was implemented; the only requirements include: a picture and the customer’s signature. He said that to date, this service is being offered at all Road Traffic Department satellite offices.
BIS NEWS By Betty Vedrine
50th Independence Logo & Theme Competition September 27th 2022
#TheBahamas, September 29, 2022 – With plans already in the works to mark the country’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, officials at the 50th Independence Secretariat are working to create an extraordinary and inclusive celebration for all Bahamians. Over the next several days, talented Bahamian artists will have the opportunity to participate in the country’s historic Golden Jubilee through the launch of the National Logo and Theme Concept Competition, designed to showcase the work of creative graphic designers and artists. The challenge: to create the logo and develop a theme that will be used across all 50th Independence celebrations and win cash prizes.
“We want Bahamians to not only enjoy the 50th Independence as spectators and citizens, but we thought it equally important for Bahamians especially those in the creative field to have the chance to be a part of that history as well” explained Leslia Miller-Brice, Chairman of the Independence Secretariat.
To participate, design hopefuls must complete the online entry, and release forms using the QR Codes provided on the Celebrate Bahamas social media pages. There, they will also be able to upload mockups of their various concepts. The nationwide search will allow each participant to enter as many ideas as they’d like into the respective competitions. Those submissions will then be narrowed down to ten.
“We’ve commissioned a talented panel of graphic designers and communications specialists to help us choose the best of the best,” Miller-Brice noted.
Once selected, the public will be given the chance to vote for their favorite concepts via the secretariat’s Celebrate Bahamas social media pages with the top three logo concepts fetching a prize of $1000, $500, and $250 respectively and the top three theme concepts with a prize of $500, $250, $100 . The competitions are now officially open and will close on October 10th 2022 at 11:59 pm.
“We are very excited to see our people really showcase their interpretations of what the 50th Anniversary of Independence means to them. We are looking for interesting use of symbolism and creativity in the overall concept” Miller-Brice said.
About Logo & Theme Competitions
- Open to all Bahamian citizens
- More than one submission is allowed
- Open to all ages
○ If under 18, Legal Guardian must complete the release form
Prime Minister Davis Highlights His Government’s First-Year Accomplishments
By ERIC ROSE
Bahamas Information Services
#NASSAU, The Bahamas, September 29, 2022 – During his Statement on the First Year Anniversary of his Government, in the House of Assembly, on September 28, 2022, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said that the accomplishments of the past 12 months had only been possible because the Bahamian people “stepped up and stepped forward, and worked with us.”
“We are grateful for their trust and confidence, and the partnership we have forged bodes well for the positive national development of The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Davis said.
He added that, although his Government had accomplished a lot in the first year, but there was still “so much to do”.
“We are making good progress on many of the commitments which we made in our ‘Blueprint For Change’,” Prime Minister Davis noted.
“But the war in Ukraine which started back in February, and COVID-related manufacturing and supply chain issues in some of the major markets, have combined to create a new and very serious emergency: a global inflation crisis, which has driven up prices across the world,” he added.
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, for a long time now, the cost of living in The Bahamas had been too high. Also, with global inflationary pressures driving prices up across the board, life had become unaffordable for so many Bahamian families.
“The Government is working hard to help the country recover and to provide relief from these multiple crises,” he said. “At the same time, we are also working to bring about the big, transformative changes which will make us stronger, less vulnerable to future crises, and bring us closer to fulfilling our national potential.”
Prime Minister Davis then reviewed some of the highlights of what had been accomplished during the past year, as having been so absorbed in the day-to-day, he pointed out, it was “instructive to step back and look at the big picture”.
In the area of Health, Prime Minister Davis noted that, even before coming into office, they made the point that the economic crisis the country faced could not be fully tackled until the COVID-19 health crisis was being well-managed.
At the time, he said, The Bahamas was performing “very poorly” on regional comparisons regarding the management of COVID.
“We knew our country could do much better,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“We introduced free testing – something the previous government said couldn’t be done – distributed almost one million free medical-grade masks, hired more doctors and nurses, and began to upgrade local clinics,” he added.
“Our commitment continues, with new industrial agreements with the Bahamas Nurses Union, which include salary increases and retention bonuses,” Prime Minister Davis pointed out. “This is simply the right thing to do for those who have done so much to save lives during the pandemic, often at great personal risk to themselves.”
In the Public Service, Prime Minister Davis said, his Government had also settled and was continuing to settle outstanding promotions and regularizations for public sector workers.
“We negotiated union agreements, with The Bahamas Educators, Counsellors, and Allied
Workers Union; The Bahamas Customs, Immigration and Allied Workers Union; The Bahamas Union of Teachers, The Bahamas Nurses Union, The Bahamas Educators Managers Union: we have completed those agreements,” he pointed out.
“It is important to note that these negotiations resulted in the largest-ever remuneration for Bahamian workers in the Public Service,” he added.
“And we approved the return of annual increments for public servants along with an increase in public service pensions.”
Prime Minister Davis stated that, as he indicated earlier, higher prices were squeezing Bahamian households. Therefore, his Government was implementing multiple policies to address the issues which contribute to the high Cost of Living.
He pointed out that the most direct tool his Government had to affect the cost was by reducing import duties and monitoring price controls.
“In the past year, we have therefore reduced import duties on dozens of food items, including healthy options like fruits and vegetables,” Prime Minister Davis said.
He added: “We have lifted the import ban on Canadian beef, which will lower cost of meat to consumers. We have expanded the list of food items on the price control list and have also hired new Price Control Inspectors to ensure compliance with price regulation requirements.
“These are measures which bring some immediate relief, but we know we also must take big steps to reduce reliance on expensive foreign imports.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, in Agriculture, his Government had committed millions of dollars in new investments for food security initiatives, which meant the nation would grow “a lot more of what we eat right here at home”, and create opportunities in Bahamian ownership and employment. He added that his Government had also introduced duty-free concessions for parts to repair fishing and farming equipment.
“We are facilitating direct cash subsidies and concessions for poultry farming, to reduce the reliance on foreign imports,” Prime Minister Davis said. “For the same reason, two new slaughterhouses have been commissioned for New Providence and Eleuthera.
“And the re-opening of packing houses, after four years, will assist farmers with feed, fertilizers and other tools.”
In terms of Affordable Housing, Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government had “picked up the ideological baton” begun under the Pindling-Hanna era, and once again, wanted to support Bahamians in owning their own homes.
“In this first year, we made available 47 new affordable homes in New Providence, in Pinecrest’s first phase of development,” he pointed out. “New housing developments in New Providence and Abaco are also underway, along with a new housing initiative at Ocean Hole in Rock Sound, Eleuthera.”
“We have expanded concessions to first-time homeowners, which includes the purchasing of land, building and purchasing a house, and renovating existing structures,” Prime Minister Davis added. “We increased the level of exemption for VAT on homes from $250,000 to $300,000.
“And we also implemented broad-based reduction of duties on building materials.”
Prime Minister Davis said that Energy was a significant part of the monthly expenditure for households and businesses.
He noted that his Government had launched a programme to implement solar micro-grids, rooftop panels and other solar devices, which were to be deployed across multiple Family Islands. That, he said, would benefit up to 17,000 Bahamians.
“Alongside this we have reduced customs duties for solar products,” Prime Minister Davis said. “We have also reduced to 10%, the duty on electric cars which cost under $70,000. And we are well advanced in negotiations of a 61 Megawatt solar facility to decrease the cost of electricity.
“Bahamians deserve cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable energy, and we are working hard to build the solutions that will get us there.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that it had been a priority for my administration to offer both compassion and relief, via both social support and empowerment.
“Our administration is providing substantial support to successful, local feeding programmes run by churches and NGOs,” he said. “The funding for social assistance increased by 50% compared to pre-pandemic levels.”
“We have extended tax breaks and concessions in Grand Bahama and Abaco Recovery Zones,” he added. “We made a $500 lump-sum payment just before Christmas to the unemployed, to provide a little breathing room.”
He continued: “My Government provided relief grants to vendors in Port Lucaya, Downtown Freeport Farmers’ Market, Eight Mile Rock Fish Fry, and Lucayan Harbour and New Bight Fish Fry. We also provided a financial stipend to surrey drivers.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government successfully re-opened schools after two years of online learning.
“And we launched a free WiFi in the parks programme called – Park Connect Bahamas,” he said. “To date, 30 parks across the country have been outfitted with free Internet access.”
“We successfully relaunched Urban Renewal, including the Urban Renewal Band and the Urban Renewal Foundation, which will spearhead a list of social support and empowerment programmes,” Prime Minister Davis added. “The Urban Renewal Small Home Repairs Programme is well underway in Abaco, Moore’s Island, Bimini, Exuma, Cat Island and New Providence.
“And the Disaster Reconstruction Authority launched a Home Assistance Repair Programme in Grand Bahama and Abaco.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, in furthering its commitment to promote Better Government, during the past year, his Government made notable progress on a range of issues.
“We eliminated the travel heath visa which was such a burden to so many Bahamians,” he said. “We enacted legislation concerning the ‘Presumption of death’, in order to allow survivors to more quickly settle the affairs of loved ones, who go missing after circumstances of peril, such as hurricanes.
He added that a Family Island Help Desk was set up in the Department of Local Government to assist local government personnel in navigating red tape, and addressing relevant issues.
“The Revenue Enhancement Unit was re-established to collect over $1 billion in tax arrears through more efficient collection, more effective compliance measures, and enforcement of laws,” Prime Minister Davis noted.
“New carbon credits legislation was passed, which will enable The Bahamas to be compensated for the role that our mangroves and seagrasses play in eliminating carbon from the atmosphere.”
Photo Caption: Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis speaks, during his Statement on the First Year Anniversary of his Government, in the House of Assembly, on September 28, 2022.
(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)
Statement on Road Traffic Department
#TheBahamas, September 26, 2022 – As an integral agency under the Ministry of Transport and Housing, the Road Traffic Department is responsible for the collection of revenue from vehicle licensing and inspection fees.
On an annual basis, the revenue from the Road Traffic Department exceeds 60 million dollars.
This revenue is critical in supporting the programmes and initiatives of the Government of The Bahamas and covers the operating costs of the Road Traffic Department.
To ensure the integrity of revenue collected, numerous processes and procedures have been implemented. Additionally, several audits have been undertaken to ensure that employees act in accordance with the established protocols of the Department.
The Ministry is aware of allegations and discord in the public domain between two employees at the Road Traffic Department.
While it is not the policy of the Government of The Bahamas to publicly comment on internal staff matters, the Ministry takes grave exception to personal allegations against employees being made public while the allegations remain under investigation by independent parties.
Public Officers are reminded of the provisions of General Orders which disallows public statements on any matter.
The Ministry continues to foster and encourage a harmonious and respectful working environment at the Road Traffic Department and all agencies under its remit.
The Ministry remains strongly committed to strengthening the audit and compliance oversight of the Road Traffic Department and will not be deterred its efforts to safeguard the Government’s revenue stream.
September 26th, 2022
Ministry of Transport & Housing
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
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