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Prime Minister Davis Highlights His Government’s First-Year Accomplishments

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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)

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PM Davis: Loftus Roker embodied the ideals of a statesman

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By ERIC ROSE
Bahamas Information Services

Hon. Philip Davis


NASSAU, The Bahamas
– During his remarks at the state funeral for the Hon. A. Loftus Roker, on May 31, 2024, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis raised the question as to what was a statesman, as all in attendance reflected on the life and legacy of “one of The Bahamas’ most distinguished public servants.”

“A statesman is not merely a politician; rather, he is one who, with vision and courage, shapes the destiny of his nation for generations to come,” Prime Minister Davis said, during the event held at Christ Church Cathedral.  “Loftus Roker embodied these ideals through every chapter of his remarkable life.”

“Born in the humble surroundings of Delectable Bay, Acklins, Loftus’s journey was one marked by resilience, determination, and a profound commitment to justice and national progress,” he added.  “His parents, farmers who also engaged in fishing, instilled in him the value of education and hard work – an ethos that defined his entire career.”

Prime Minister said that Mr. Roker’s tenure as Minister of National Security and Immigration was characterized by his “bold and transformative” policies.

“His leadership during this pivotal time was not only about enforcing laws but about defending the sovereignty and welfare of our nation,” he noted.  “He was an unapologetic ambassador for our sovereignty, a voice of moral clarity in the cacophony of political discourse. When he spoke, we listened, we paused, and we often re-evaluated our approaches.”

Prime Minister Davis added:  “Beyond his public roles, Mr. Roker was a guardian of our historical integrity and a protector of many insightful political secrets – some of which he took to the grave. His candor was legendary; it was his trademark and his gift to us. He never shied away from telling the truth, however uncomfortable it might be, choosing integrity over convenience every time. I, too, was a recipient of his forthright critiques – a testament to his commitment to the party he loved and the ideals he upheld.”

Presentation of National Flag to family by PM Davis

Prime Minister Davis noted that, reflecting on his “incredible” journey and contributions, they recalled his early foray into politics – “a daring run for office before he was legally old enough to do so.”

“This bold move was not just a youthful transgression, but a declaration of his readiness to serve and lead, setting the stage for his lifelong dedication to our nation’s governance,” he said.

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that it was his profound privilege to stand with Mr. Roker in Pompey Bay, Acklins, in August of 2023, where his Government recognized his lifelong service to The Bahamas by renaming the Acklins Central High School in his honour.

“This act not only commemorated his legacy, but also reconnected it with the soil of his birthplace – tying the past with the present in celebration of a life well-lived,” he stated.

Prime Minister Davis added: “Today, as we honor Loftus Roker, we ask again: What is a statesman? He was a statesman because he was unafraid in his honesty, and unyielding in his principles. He navigated the complexities of leadership with a rare blend of toughness and grace, ensuring his voice was heard, his presence felt, and his vision realized.

“So, what can we learn from Loftus Roker’s approach to politics and life? His life teaches us about the courage to speak the truth, the duty to protect our sovereignty, and the integrity to maintain our moral clarity.  He was a true gentleman, a wise counselor, and a fearless leader.”

Prime Minister Davis said that, as they said farewell to “this stalwart of Bahamian history”, they should remember his indomitable spirit and his profound contributions to their beloved nation.  Mr. Roker’s legacy, he added, will continue to inspire and guide us, reminding us of the impact one dedicated individual can have on the destiny of a nation.

“Again, I ask, who is a statesman? He is Loftus Roker – a man whose life answered that question resoundingly,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “May his story continue to inspire us, and may his wisdom light our paths forward.”

Governor General, HE the Most Hon. Dame Cynthia Pratt

“He was not just a part of our history; he helped to write it,” Prime Minister added.  “As we mourn his passing, we also celebrate the indelible mark he has left on our hearts and our nation.”

He stated that Mr. Roker’s memory will continue to inspire, his deeds will guide future generations, and his vision will always “illuminate the path forward.”

“Farewell, my friend. You have taught us much, and your story will continue to teach future Bahamians about the essence of true leadership,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “Rest assured, the pages of history will remember you; you have written your story well.”

“May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival, and lead you to the Holy City Jerusalem,” he added.  “May you rest in peace.”

Prime Minister Davis continued: “On behalf of a grateful nation, my wife Ann-Marie; Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. I. Chester Cooper and his wife ; my cabinet and parliamentary colleagues, and on my own behalf, I express heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Roker, the Roker family and all those who loved him on the passing of this great patriarch.

“May he rest in peace.”

 

(BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

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Tourism Minister commends 153 newly certified Lifeguards

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From: Bahamas Information Services

 

NASSAU, The Bahamas —  “The breathtaking beaches and pristine waters are among the top reasons travellers visit our country. As a leading tourism destination that places the highest priority on the safety and security of its guests, lifeguards play a crucial role in the tourism industry of The Bahamas,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper as keynote speaker at the Lifeguard Certification Graduation Ceremony, May 29, 2024 at Fox Hill Community Centre.

“I am delighted to join you this evening to celebrate the outstanding accomplishment of our newly certified lifeguards.

“Tonight marks the successful completion of lifeguard training of 153 candidates total: 134 from New Providence and 19 from Eleuthera. My understanding is that 64 of the graduates are present with us this evening. The others could not come because they have already secured employment on islands outside of New Providence. That is great news!”

He noted that the graduates have all made a substantial investment of time and effort to fully equip themselves to take on the critical role of lifeguard.

They each undertook 30 hours of training led by American Lifeguard Association certified trainer and examiner Lisa Nixon. From this training, they took away the knowledge and skills required to effectively execute their duties as first class lifeguards. In addition to training in lifeguard skills, they completed 40 hours of BahamaHost training which schooled them in the science of gold standard customer service.

In welcoming them aboard ‘Team Tourism,’ he said: “Graduates, you are coming aboard Team Tourism in the best of times, at a time when our tourism industry is experiencing phenomenal growth. Last year, The Bahamas broke all pre-existing records, reaching an historic high of 9.65 million in visitor arrivals.

“You are joining Team Tourism at a time when our tourism industry is in full expansion in resort development and cruise line investments.  Lifeguards are in great demand at the numerous resorts across The Islands of The Bahamas, on the private islands of our cruise line partners, and our major public beaches.”

Deputy Prime Minister Cooper left the graduates with these messages:

“You will be playing a critical role in our nation’s number one industry. We, collectively, have the deepest appreciation and respect for your contribution to the tourism sector, the sector that powers our country’s economy, providing 60 percent of the employment and 50% of the GDP. Your job as lifeguards is in service to our nation, ensuring the highly valued sense of safety among our guests and residents.

“You each already possess deep deposits of the five key characteristics required to be outstanding lifeguards. I humbly ask that you make a commitment to continually cultivate the quality of reliability, sharpen your communication skills, enhance your leadership skills, update your lifeguard skills and be professional at all times.”

He thanked family and friends for their support of the graduates, and those who played a role in assisting the graduates attain certification.

 

(BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs)

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CIBC Caribbean Announces Walk for the Cure 2024 with $66,000 Donation

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Nassau, Bahamas – On the other side of the thousands of supporters who participate in CIBC Caribbean’s fun-filled Walk for the Cure (WFTC) event every October are the cancer care organizations that use the funds raised to provide essential services all year long.

During the bank’s launch of Walk for the Cure 2024, the $66,000 generated during last year’s walk was presented to the Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Groups of New Providence and Grand Bahama, Cancer Society of The Bahamas, the Cancer Societies of Abaco, Eleuthera, and Grand Bahama, Cancer Association of Grand Bahama and GD Sharing and Caring.

CIBC Caribbean’s Managing Director, Dr. Jacqui Bend, highlighted that the event is “more than just a fundraiser because for many, it is a lifeline of hope.”

“Walk for the Cure provides essential care ranging from scans and exams to support for everyday necessities. Over the past 12 years, we have been privileged to support countless courageous survivors, enhancing the lives and well-being of those battling cancer, their families, and the dedicated organizations that serve them,” said Dr. Bend.

Since its inception, Walk for the Cure has raised nearly four million dollars regionwide, significantly aiding the fight against cancer. In less than five months, WFTC will again span New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Eleuthera, the four islands where CIBC Caribbean has a presence in The Bahamas.

GD Sharing and Caring Executive Board Member, Anita Rolle, said, “We express our heartfelt gratitude to CIBC Caribbean for its extraordinary support and commitment to the fight against cancer. It is because of partners like CIBC Caribbean that we continue to make strides in our mission.”

She added, “This donation serves as a testament to the power of collaboration and the impact we can achieve when we come together for a common purpose.”

CIBC Caribbean encourages individuals, families, and corporate teams to join in the meaningful cause. Individuals and groups can register by visiting any CIBC Caribbean branch or by emailing WalkForTheCureBAH@cibcfcib.com. Donations can be made at any CIBC Caribbean branch or through the CIBC Caribbean app.

 

Photo Caption

Standing from left to right are Anita Rolle, GD Sharing and Caring Executive Board Member; Shantell Cox-Hutchinson, Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group President; Dr. Jacqui Bend, CIBC Caribbean Managing Director; Susan Roberts, Cancer Society of The Bahamas founder; Glenda Whylly, CIBC Caribbean Senior Manager in the Managing Director’s Office and Dr. Williamson Chea, Cancer Society of The Bahamas President.

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