Friday, Aug 23, 2019
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Poor communication from government

Dear Editor,

Leslie Miller and Damien Gomez are right about one thing: the communications effort around NHI has been poorly done.

This isn’t the first time this issue has been flagged. The gender equality referendum, the gaming referendum and the Baha Mar crisis have all revealed a severe weakness in the government machinery – it’s inability to persuade the Bahamian people.

On the face of it, the Bahamian people should be excited about a National Health Insurance, but we constantly hear people saying we don’t know what it is, we don’t know why we need it and we don’t know how it will benefit us.

There may be a host of reasons for this, and the Bahamian government is not the only government in world struggling with a communications issue. However, as the world becomes more complex and private interests remain better coordinated around their messaging than government bodies, the legitimacy of governments and the faith in their ability to affect change that matters to everyday people will continue to be shaken.

Our government has no centralized communications unit, specifically responsible for educating the Bahamian people and promoting its policies, like a Press Secretary or Office of Public Engagement.

There is no office or person exclusively responsible for coordinating policy work across government ministries, like a Chief of Staff for example. These have become vital instruments of government in modern democracies because governments realize that while citizens must keep themselves informed, if governments intend to be successful they must also engage with their citizenry in strategic and persuasive ways.

 

– Joey Gaskins Jr.

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