“We have much to be proud of; we have much to celebrate. Let us move resolutely towards another 40 years solidly rooted in the foundations of our founding fathers with momentum carried by our young people ably guided by all of us laboring in the vineyards to forge a common destiny for our peoples.”
Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, former secretary general CARICOM on the 40th anniversary of CARICOM

This past week, The Bahamas hosted the 44th CARICOM Heads of Government at a meeting of leaders from around the Caribbean.

In addition to the prime ministers of the 15 independent member countries that comprise CARICOM and the five associate member nations, delegations were also present from Canada, the United States of America, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Arab Emirates, and the African Export-Import Bank.

Most of the meetings were held at Baha Mar in Cable Beach, although Atlantis on Paradise Island hosted the opening ceremony on Wednesday evening.

The sessions were very productive by all objective measures, and the conference delegates left The Bahamas with a renewed sense of hope and accomplishment.

Therefore, this week, we will Consider This … what lies in store for the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration beyond the CARICOM Heads of Government meetings?

It’s better in The Bahamas

During several sessions, this author noted with pride that The Bahamas put its best foot forward for this event. Delegates to the conference repeatedly applauded the world-renowned hospitality for which The Bahamas is celebrated.

While many Nassauvians braved the inconvenience of rerouted streets and detoured thoroughfares and the resultant traffic jams that accompanied them, the strict security measures implemented were a small price to pay to ensure the safety of our visiting guests at these meetings.

Apart from the police overreacting to a small protest in the vicinity of Baha Mar on Wednesday, the entire meeting was executed flawlessly from a security perspective.

Prime Minister Davis at the top of his game

However reluctantly, even his most critical detractors will admit that Prime Minister Philip Davis was at the top of his game this week. Not only was he the quintessential host, but he also demonstrated his chairmanship of CARICOM with superlative aplomb and panache.

Bahamians will not long forget how his immediate predecessor embarrassed Bahamians when that former prime minister articulated how he would eradicate the corruption in Bahamian public life at a meeting of the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru.

What a difference a day makes.

By contrast, last week serves as a constant reminder that elections have consequences.

Therefore, Bahamians are justifiably proud that Prime Minister Davis was currently at the helm of state for this meeting.

This author was fortunate to have attended three bilateral meetings with delegations to the CARICOM meeting with Prime Minister Davis and several of his Cabinet colleagues, and can attest, without equivocation or reservation, that the prime minister conducted himself in a superb manner that would make us all incredibly proud.

There is no question that Prime Minister Philip Davis was masterful during the entire meeting and should be commended for representing us exceptionally well.

The importance of this meeting

There were many important sessions at the 44th CARICOM Heads of Government meeting. Two that stand out especially included the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the delegation that former Senator John Kerry, the United States special presidential envoy for climate change, led.

Trudeau spoke on the importance of urgently addressing the illegal immigration issues regarding Haiti.

Kerry echoed many issues related to the existential threats to island states that Davis and Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley have repeatedly addressed.

Two other important meetings were held, and presentations were made by Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah, president of the African Export-Import Bank, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the WTO.

Oramah took the opportunity to meet privately with Davis, several Cabinet ministers, and other Bahamian stakeholders on trade.

He informed the plenary session that the African Export-Import Bank has allocated three billion dollars for the Caribbean to promote and increase trade with African countries. CARICOM would be well advised to use these funds to expand trade beyond the region’s traditional trading partners and include African countries in this endeavor.

Similarly, Okonjo-Iweala addressed the need for the Caribbean to take advantage of the benefits that can result for the region by accessing trade opportunities derived from the WTO.

As we already noted, The Bahamas was the center of attention at the CARICOM 44 Heads of Government Meeting this past week. The government and people of The Bahamas should be incredibly proud of what was achieved this week in Nassau, as well as what rewards will be reaped in the future from seeds sown this week.

As chairman of the CARICOM 44 Heads of Government Meeting, the prime minister has once again placed our nation at the center of the dialogue on matters related to Caribbean unity, regional and international trade prospects, the impact of climate change on island states, immigration issues, and how we can leverage and maximize our regional partnerships for the benefit of the people of the Caribbean, including The Bahamas.

Beyond CARICOM 44

Now that CARICOM 44 has concluded, the government’s attention must again turn inward. Several important national issues must now become the primary focus of the PLP administration in the years that remain in its tenure in office.

The government must immediately turn its attention to determining what it will do to ensure the sustainability of the National Insurance Board. It must also address how we will reform our national health system to ensure that all Bahamians have access to the appropriate level of healthcare, including life-saving pharmaceuticals.

The Davis-led administration must urgently address what bold measures it will implement to ensure that the anemic Grand Bahama economy is transformed from life support to full recovery.

Progressive measures must be taken to enhance economic empowerment for Bahamians, ensuring that our citizens have access to capital for business formation and expansion and to broaden the middle class. Similarly, we must find creative and innovative ways to alleviate the high cost of living.

Our uniformed forces must innovatively and realistically address what appears to be a society that has become inundated by accelerated violent crime and the depressing, debilitating fear of crime.

As we approach our 50th anniversary of independence, we must double down on our efforts to ensure that we take advantage of this golden opportunity to showcase our successes of the past 50 years. More importantly, we need to use this once-in-the-lifetime-of-a-nation opportunity to articulate a workable, realistic vision for the next 50 years.

Finally, we must honestly and directly address one of the most intractably pernicious and invidious challenges that confront us: poverty in The Bahamas.


Having experienced an excellent week at CARICOM 44, we should applaud our successes. However, we must not rest on our laurels but recommit ourselves to the fact that every new day brings new challenges. Our success will be measured by how we address those challenges head-on and find their solutions.

And in the final analysis, we will ultimately be rewarded if the solutions we provide are workable and sustainable and will improve the lives of our fellow citizens.

• Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Bahamas, Advisors and Chartered Accountants. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to pgalanis@gmail.com

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button