Opposition urges government to enact policies for entire Bahamas

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The main opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has called on the newly elected government of Prime Minister Hubert Minnis to end the “trash talk from a platform” and ensure that its policies are beneficial to all Bahamians.

Responding to the Throne Speech by Governor  General Dame Marguerite Pindling, on Wednesday, Opposition Leader Phillip Brave Davis said the “government must now enter the real world of governance and not trash talk from a platform.

Opposition leader Phillip Brave Davis
Opposition leader Phillip Brave Davis

“Governance requires hard choices. It is easy as a critic to stand and promote ideas which have no foundation in fact but reality has now hit home.

“We listened intently and the reality is that the Speech from the Throne is an acknowledgement of the transformative foundation already constructed by the Progressive Liberal Party Government,” he said.

Dame Marguerite told legislators that the government has outlined a number of initiatives to deal with the socio-economic development of the Bahamas and that the most urgent priorities in crime fighting are initiatives that focus on prevention, deterrence, and enforcement.

She said the government intends to enact legislation to establish the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and will also enact legislation to address the conditional release of offenders into society through a Parole and Probation of Offenders system.

“My government will enact legislation to establish a Guns and Gang Unit that will focus on dismantling gangs and disrupting the trafficking in illicit firearms,” she said, adding that the new administration will continue to close the gap between science and criminal justice and the quality of admissible DNA evidence.

“Recognizing the influence of the Internet in all aspects of our lives, and the use and misuse of social media, my government will place emphasis on the detection of financial, commercial, and cyber-crimes.”

She said that the new government also recognizes that the education and training of Bahamians are key factors in the progressive and sustainable economic development of the nation.

“We must, with purpose and urgency, address the present national skills deficit, improve sub-standard literacy, numeracy and communication levels in our nation and promote greater inclusiveness in the education of society.

Dame Margurite Pindling
Dame Margurite Pindling

“My government will mandate pre-school learning for all two and a half year olds. We will ensure the availability of adequately staffed and equipped pre- school facilities in all Family Islands where practicable,” she said, adding that the government will enhance the provision of Specialty Education to ensure equity in education and employability of students with special needs.

The Head of State also outlined a number of initiatives in education saying also that the Minnis administration is committed to substantially reforming the Education Act that will allow for the establishment of a National Education Commission.

Regarding the health sector, the government has indicated that it will provide “easy and affordable health care” throughout the country with Dame Marguerite noting that the new administration has reaffirmed that the fundamental premise of National Health Insurance is that eligible residents have equitable access to quality healthcare.

“My government supports National Health Insurance but recognizes that the present roll-out model, which focuses on primary care services, does not address the significant health maladies our country presently faces. My government will therefore extend the focus of NHI to secondary and tertiary health care.”

She said that the government will oversee the incremental implementation of a progressive and functional National Catastrophic Health Insurance Programme.

On the issue of the environment, the new government will enact legislation to establish a Ministry of the Environment to coordinate all national and international environmental obligations and activities.

The Minnis administration also intends to set up a mechanism to respond to environmental incidents and emergencies, and to introduce liability for persons or institutions polluting our environment.

The government has also signalled its intention to reduce the value added tax (VAT) on breadbasket items and has promised to “continue to provide assistance to those adversely impacted by Hurricane Matthew” with special focus being given to the construction of new homes for those persons who meet the requirements”.

The Minnis administration said it will also bring the Child Protection Act 2007 into full force, by establishing Regulations to govern the Children’s Registry and for the creation of the office of Minors Advocate.

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