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Cooper sworn in as DPM; becomes minister of tourism, investments and aviation

Chester Cooper was sworn in as deputy prime minister and minister of tourism, investments and aviation on Saturday.

He said he was “honored and humbled” by the appointments.

“I assure you, I have no delusions about the enormity of the task before us and what it entails,” Cooper said.

“We are beset with a raging pandemic that must be brought under control. We are in perilous waters as our economy is depressed and we have major financial commitments to fulfill. And we confront that without a clear understanding yet of the true state of our government finances.

“Businesses are on life support and Bahamians from all walks of life are crying out for change and hope. We still have a deep level of inequality that has left too many in need.”

He said government relations with many in The Bahamas’ business and investment community have “frayed”.

Cooper said there is a sense of fear about the way forward.

“We need to guide our country with steady hands,” he said.

“So, in my role, I will be resolutely focused on creating an investment-friendly environment, growing our industries and our economy to create jobs and opportunities for our people.

“We have to work to make sure people do not go hungry, that people are safe within their communities and that the wealth of The Bahamas becomes more common.”

Cooper said there is no shortage of work to do.

He said the Davis administration is “well-positioned and well-equipped to do it with your help”.

Cooper promised to work diligently as deputy prime minister to support Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis and “bring everything in my disposition to the Cabinet and Parliament of The Bahamas”.

He said these are “trying times” for The Bahamas.

Cooper noted that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has swept into power with a great majority.

“We will not forget that our predecessors had an even greater majority, yet they were rejected by the Bahamian people,” he said.

“We will learn from their example. We must be gracious in victory. We must not become distracted by the trappings of office. We must not seek to punish those who did not support us. We must commit ourselves to service.

“We are here to serve our people, they are not here to serve us. We must commit to being efficient, attentive and result-oriented. We must listen to the will of the people and adjust our own agenda accordingly. We must be honest and transparent with the people’s business.

“We must not say one thing and do another. We must try with all our might to fulfill what we have promised. We must be candid with one another and the Bahamian people.

“Realizing that a large portion of the electorate did not vote in the last election, we must work to restore their faith in good governance and our democracy. We must bring focused energy and pool our strengths.”

Cooper, who serves as deputy leader of the PLP, was one of 32 PLP candidates elected to Parliament during the 2021 general election.

The Free National Movement (FNM), which secured 35 seats in the 2017 general election, only secured seven seats in the House of Assembly.

The FNM’s loss came after former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis decided to call an election eight months before it was constitutionally due.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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