Monday, Feb 24, 2020
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PM: Public sector reform imperative

Prime Minister Perry Christie insisted yesterday that tough decisions must be made to reform the public sector in order for The Bahamas not to be left behind.

“During this term in office my government has sought to be agents of change. We have been addressing several major challenges that should have been tackled many years ago,” Christie said while addressing an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) seminar on governance.

Christie lamented the state of the business environment in The Bahamas.

“Our business environment, unfortunately, is known for its red tape and bureaucracy. Our agencies are too often likely to say, ‘come back another day’, [rather] than advise how to achieve the desired outcome,” he said.

The Bahamas ranks 106 out of 189 countries in the World Bank Group’s “Ease of Doing Business” 2016 Fact Sheet.

Christie said reforms are imperative in order for The Bahamas to remain a “vibrant service-based economy”.

The prime minister indicated that there must be a zero tolerance for corruption in government.

“Many of our systems are antiquated, often manual and paper-based. The burden is borne by the taxpayer who must also bear the cost of deficient services,” he said.

The prime minister said he hopes at some point to see The Bahamas in the top 50 countries in terms of ease of doing business.

However, he pointed out that tough decisions must be made to achieve that objective.

“All changes in government take courage particularly as you approach the general election,” Christie said.

“If we do not make a number of changes now, that divide will widen and we will be left behind. Many of our citizens will feel even more marginalized.

“So, there is this compelling urgency of making decisions now that are important to The Bahamas.”

Christie said decisions should not be made in isolation.

“It is an absolute necessity of The Bahamas not to continue to operate in silos,” he said.

The prime minister also indicated that The Bahamas still has room for improvement.

“We have not reached the level of sophistication yet, where leaders are prepared to compete against each other in public and stand up and demonstrate to the public whether they have the capacity to manage a country,” he said.

“So, you find it difficult to get whoever is the leader of the opposition to stand on the same platform as me and then openly discuss and debate where we are going.”

Last year, Christie indicated that he was open to debate Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis. However, that has not happened.

Christie announced a new initiative intended to spur creativity in the public service.

He branded it as the “30-day challenge for public service innovation”.

“Each agency is hereby requested to submit ideas by the 31 of July, to strengthen service delivery to improve a program that is currently being offered or to propose a new program or policy that will improve the lives of citizens [and the] residents they serve within the next 30 days,” he said.

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