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This Week with Prime Minister Christie
Mr. Christie then flew to Jamaica early Tuesday morning to address the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference in Kingston. The Prime Minister talked about accountability, transparency and financial literacy. He told the conference that in the 21st century, citizens must have “basic financial skills” and “understand how investments and insurance fit into their personal financial plans and national development goals and plans as well.”
Addressing the issue of ease of doing business, the Prime Minister pointed out that The Bahamas ranks 106 in the world in this category but only through positive reforms can countries hold their position or move up the index.
“It is a truism that only through the implementation of positive reforms can nations hold their place or move up this index” said Mr. Christie. One such reform is the online platform at the recently rolled out by the Office of the Registrar General to allow for company incorporations and obtaining certificates of god standing online.
The Prime Minister returned to the capital in the early afternoon to chair his weekly Cabinet meeting.
On Tuesday evening, 19th January 2016 at the C.V. Bethel Senior High School, the Prime Minister addressed supporters at a public meeting. In addition to calling the attendees leaders and urging them to vigorously defend the party, Mr. Christie addressed three governance issues of national import.
On Baha Mar, the PM told supporters that he wrote the President of the China Export/Import Bank about the urgency to complete and open the stalled project. It was urgent because many Bahamian jobs were on hold, Bahamian contractors were owed millions of dollars for services rendered and several hotel operators are interested in taking over the resort.
On the crime front, the Prime Minister warned that the new crime strategy could infringe on personal freedoms and civil liberties as the police would be authorized to conduct search and seizure operations with reasonable suspicion. Also, there will be no difference between the police and the defense force in fighting crime under this new plan.
On National Health Insurance, the Prime Minister decried the high number of avoidable deaths each year because Bahamians do not have adequate access to affordable healthcare; the number quoted in the Sanigest report was 700. Mr. Christie pointed out that doctors questioned the government’s course of action in the event of a discovery of a catastrophic illness during a routine medical exam and medical tests. He said that his government will establish a $25 million fund to pay for catastrophic illnesses.
On Wednesday the Prime Minister attended a sitting of Parliament where a resolution to borrow $33 million finance public service reform was debated. The resolution was pursuant to section 3.1 of the IDB Act. There was unanimous agreement on the bill.
On Thursday morning, 21st January 2016 at the Melia Resort the Prime Minister delivered the keynote address at the 25th Bahamas Business Outlook Conference. He addressed the current national issues such as Baha Mar, the economy generally, tax reform, National Health Insurance and crime. The Prime Minister again called for constructive engagement on NHI, not war of words in the press. On Baha Mar, he assured delegates that a resolution was close, he was unapologetic for his optimism on Baha Mar and revealed that Sol Kerzner (who recently submitted a revised proposal) and the Mohegan Sun are among the high profile suitors for Baha Mar. The theme was “A Bold Agenda: the next twenty-five years.”
Later Thursday evening the Prime Minister addressed delegates at the Hotel and Tourism Marketplace trade show. The venue was Atlantis on Paradise Island.
On Friday, Prime Minister Christie accepted the 2015 Person of The Year award from Jones Communications International; he shared the honour with Central Bank Governor John A. Rolle. The awards luncheon was held at the Melia Resort. The Prime Minister was named Person of The Year principally because of his handling of the economy and the success of the government’s medium term fiscal consolidation plan of which Value Added Tax implementation was a principal component.
In his response, the Prime Minister referred to the consultative and collaborative process undertaken by his government in introducing Value Added Tax (VAT) as an example to again explain his philosophical approach to governance in the wake of the public and at time acrimonious back and forth verbiage over National Health Insurance (NHI).
“There is no need in this country for people to talk to the government from Mount Olympus. There is no need for aerial political bombardment. All you have to do is sit in an office in good faith and say ‘Prime Minister’ or ‘Minister, I disagree.’ Why would any government want to waste its time fighting a medical profession or an insurance agency. Government works on the best advice given to them.
“The industry – the doctors may disagree with that advice but you cannot, you cannot, ever stop a government from executing on a project that is manifestly and undeniably in the best interest of people in this country who are the most disadvantaged.”
Consistent with seeking the best advice on NHI, Mr. Christie revealed that he has invited world renown consultants from the UK, the US and Canada to conduct “another examination at what I’m doing (with NHI).” He said he advised them to take ownership of their advice to him because he intends to act on their expert advice.
Transport Minister provides update on F.I. emergency lighting network
The Minister of Transport and Aviation announced this week that the Emergency Lighting System at the Deadman’s Cay Airport, Long Island which was damaged during Hurricane Joaquin has been fully restored by the Department of Civil Aviation. The Department also carried out remedial works at the Colonel Hill Crooked Island Airport and over the next few days will complete repairs to San Salvador International Airport, the Crooked Island Airport and the Spring Point, Acklins Airport thereby restoring full capacity for emergency flights to these islands and to the respective communities.
Griffin: R.I.S.E. to give families “a fighting chance to rise out of poverty”
As the government continues its fight against poverty through welfare reform, Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Griffin told Parliamentarians on Wednesday that the government is consolidating its assets to more comprehensively assist Bahamian families receiving government assistance.
She was addressing Parliamentarians at a working lunch at the Hilton Hotel during the House lunch break.
By combining the assets of the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development and the Department of Social Services, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health, this comprehensive approach is designed to give families receiving assistance from the Department of Social Services “a fighting chance to rise out of poverty.”
“Ultimately, the reform will ensure that as an agency, we (the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development through the Department of Social Services) are more responsive, efficient and effective in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable,” Mrs. Griffin said.
“A cash grant to qualified households will give the beneficiaries of RISE the flexibility to manage their funds to the optimal benefit of their homes.”
The RISE Programme, also known as the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, is part of the Government’s Social Safety Net Reform Programme and is aimed at promoting human capital development, while alleviating poverty by focusing on changing behaviours in order to improve educational achievement and a healthier lifestyle among poor households.
The National Insurance Board (NIB) held a compliance symposium for its inspectors and other stakeholders. Topics covered were “The importance of NIB” and “Compliance: A historical perspective.” The keynote address was delivered by the Minister of Labour, National Insurance and the Public Service, the Hon. D. Shane Gibson.
A number of leaders from the local trade union movement held a demonstration outside of Parliament on Wednesday to protest the increase in fees for basic cable services granted to Cable Bahamas Limited (CBL) by URCA. The labour leaders also accused CBL of breaking the labour laws of The Bahamas by failing to recognize labour unions. They further accused CBL of demoting four Bahamian workers to accommodate four foreign workers and would like to see CBL fully staffed by Bahamians.
Minister for the Environment and Housing the Hon. Kenred Dorsett test drove a 100% electronic Nissan Leaf car on Wednesday of this week. This line of cars is being sold by Easy Eco Cars, owned by Ms. Pia Farmer
On Thursday of this week, The
Bahamas Supreme Court dismissed an application for summary judgment submitted by Cable Bahamas Limited. The summary judgment was to determine liability in a fuel spill at the Rubis gas station on Robinson Road. Cable Bahamas filed the application on the grounds of negligence and nuisance on the part of Rubis with respect to the oil spill.
Byran Woodside, former Pinewood Member of Parliament for the FNM, State Minister in the Ingraham government, attorney, petroleum marketing expert and businessman officially joined the PLP on Thursday. Mr. Woodside addressed the National General Council of the PLP at their monthly meeting. Also addressing Councilors was Mr. Norris Bain, the FNM candidate for Marco City in the 2012 general elections
A severe weather system developed over the central and northwest Bahamas on Thursday prompting school closures on the islands of Andros, the Berry Islands, New Providence and Grand Bahama on Friday.
About the author: Elcott Coleby is a Deputy Director at the Bahamas Information Services. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry (B.Sc) and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). He provides frequent commentary on public policy and communicates the works of the government. Address all comments to the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org