Sunday, May 31, 2020
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Steady progress in governance

In the modern Bahamas no governing party should overestimate its popularity.

The last administration to be reelected was Hubert Ingraham’s Free National Movement (FNM) in 1997. The economy was roaring then, hitting seven-plus percent growth in the late 1990s.

The FNM under Dr. Hubert Minnis won big on May 10, 2017. The party took 35 seats. The PLP was only able to win four. Perry Christie, the sitting prime minister, lost his seat.

At that election there were several high priority matters in the mind of the people, along with permanently retiring Christie.

Between 2007 and 2017 there were five murder records. The worst year was 2015 when there were 146 murders. Bahamians were frustrated with the level of violence.

In the first full year of this administration (2018) there were 91 murders – a decrease of 25 percent from the previous year.

The Christie years were of mix of recession and stagnation. The former governing party was unable to bring forward policies to help grow our economy that was so badly hit by the 2008 recession.

Times have been better of late. The economy was projected to grow by more than two percent in 2018 and 2019. And tourism is booming.

Last year a record 6.6 million tourists visited, an increase of 7.9 percent compared to 2017. Tourism is our main industry.

The stopover segment was bullish, too. Air arrivals increased by 16.7 percent.

The landfill in New Providence is a public health threat. It was not properly maintained by successive administrations.

The Minnis administration signed an agreement with New Providence Ecology Park (NPEP), which is comprised of Waste Resources Development Group WRDG and Providence Advisors, for a $45 million multi-phased landfill redevelopment.

It is hoped the project ends the fires and environmental dangers at the site. A hand-over ceremony is scheduled for today at the landfill.

In Grand Bahama, the Christie administration left the Grand Lucayan all but closed with no buyer in sight. This government is getting closer to a final deal.

A letter of intent was signed between Lucayan Renewal Holdings Ltd. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) and the Mexican ITM Group for the purchase of the resort for $65 million, and redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour.

The first phase of the development is projected to cost $195 million over two years with the creation of approximately 2,000 jobs.

It will take several months to negotiate a final deal, but the parties and government seem serious about moving forward.

Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) signed a contract with the Finnish group Wartsila to install 132 megawatts of power at Clifton Pier. It will cost approximately $95 million.

The new plant is expected to lead to more reliable electricity supply and lower fuel charges on customers’ bills, according to BPL officials. It should be finished by the end of the year.

By no means is this list exhaustive. There are other major developments across the archipelago.

The Minnis administration is not perfect. No governing party is. What it is, though, is better than the Perry Christie-led PLP Bahamians voted out in 2017.

As you assess your government, take a look at what is being done. The PLP and its operatives would have you think nothing good is happening in The Bahamas. That’s not true.

When election day comes three years from now, if you think enough was accomplished, give the FNM another chance. If not, there’s Philip Brave Davis’ PLP. But remember, if you choose them you’re choosing the same group that governed from 2012 to 2017. And you had so, so many problems with them.

Political and econom
From Mar-a-Lago to B