47th anniversary of independence – the first two decades of 2000s

Having changed its governing party once, after 19 years of independence in 1992, the new century ushered in a 20-year period during which the Progressive Liberal Party and the Free National Movement would, in turn, lead the government for five-year periods.

Recession in the U.S. economy following the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks proved to be short-lived. Americans quickly returned to international travel and investment.

Eager to maximize benefits to The Bahamas from buoyant American and world economies, expansion of direct foreign investments was aggressively promoted.

In a three-year period, more Bahamian real estate had been sold to international persons than had been sold during the preceding 10 years.

Development of new resorts were approved in Cable Beach at Baha Mar, at South Ocean, at Albany in southwest New Providence; and at Baker’s Bay and Winding Bay in Abaco, among others.

Three hurricanes impacted parts of the country between 2003 and 2005. As a result, the tourism economy of Grand Bahama was shattered and has yet to recover.

The Bahamian economy was seriously impacted by the Great Recession.

Tourism receipts shrank and planned resort developments in western Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Exuma, Long Island and Rose Island lost their funding.

Dramatic job losses were recorded in the economy.

Seeking to create jobs in the economy, a massive public sector road and infrastructure improvement program was undertaken. And, an Unemployment Benefit Scheme was introduced.

Nassau’s Harbour was deepened to accommodate the largest new class of ocean cruise ships.

The U.S. Departure Terminal, the Domestic and International Departure Terminals and the Bahamas Customs and Immigration halls were constructed at Lynden Pindling International Airport and the Leonard Thompson International Airport constructed at Marsh Harbour, Abaco.

Arawak Cay was extended to accommodate Nassau’s Cargo Port at the new A.D.P. Port, a public-private undertaking that provided for ownership participation by the general public.

A new customs warehouse facility was constructed on Gladstone Road.

The Nassau Straw Market, destroyed by fire in 2001, was reconstructed.

Two new government administrative buildings were constructed, one on Grand Bahama and another on Abaco, and the government-operated school plant was further expanded and upgraded.

Small community hospitals were designed and construction commenced on Abaco and on Exuma, the new operating theaters were constructed at Rand Memorial Hospital on Grand Bahama and a new Critical Care Block was constructed at Princess Margaret Hospital.

The unpopular privatization of the telecommunications company, a decade after it was first proposed at the end of the 1990s, was completed.

The telecommunications sector was liberalized and a new telecommunications company was licensed to provide both hard-line and cellular phone service.

Today, the level of internet penetration in The Bahamas is amongst the highest in the world. This has immense significance for education and health.

A referendum to garner support for the legalization of the numbers business failed in 2013 but the business was legalized anyway. A second referendum in 2016 seeking to end discrimination in the constitution also failed.

The National Health Insurance Primary Care Programme complimentary to the National Prescription Drug Programme was implemented.

High levels of crime in the community, with origins in the illicit drug trade of the 1970s, persists, defying multiple government and civic interventions.

Challenges, the result of poor management and inadequate maintenance of the electrical plant on New Providence, climaxed last year, leaving portions of the capital without electricity for extended periods of time.

And, today, The Bahamas is faced with the most serious challenges since independence: the near complete destruction of the second and third largest economic centers of the country and the COVID-19 pandemic.

To be continued. 

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