Two days after leading his party to a decisive win at the polls, Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis on the weekend pledged to govern with transparency and to be a unifying force as his administration works to address the country’s greatest challenges.
“We are going to listen. We are going to consult widely. And we are going to bring people together,” said Davis, who received his instruments of appointment during a ceremony at Baha Mar on Saturday morning.
“That is the best way to make progress as a nation. No leader and no government should be isolated from the people.”
He added, “I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable.”
The new prime minister, who was officially sworn in by the governor general in a private ceremony on Friday, pledged at the public event on Saturday that his administration will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few.
“We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people. We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it is not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people.”
Davis said, “There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us. It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there.”
After winning only four of the 39 seats in the House of Assembly in 2017, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) on Thursday won 32 seats in what many viewed as a redemptive victory.
Former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis was re-elected in Killarney. Only three of his former ministers were elected: Iram Lewis in Central Grand Bahama, Kwasi Thompson in East Grand Bahama, and Michael Pintard in Marco City.
The Free National Movement (FNM) also won St. Barnabas, St. Anne’s and Long Island.
In 2017, the FNM secured 35 seats to the PLP’s four.
On Saturday, the new prime minister told the audience, which included former Prime Ministers Perry Christie and Hubert Ingraham, “If we work together towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are indeed possible for our country and our people.
“But no government can do great things on its own. I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people.”
The Davis administration ascends to power as The Bahamas suffers through a brutal wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and tries to balance a fragile economic situation.
“Our new administration comes into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before,” Davis said.
“In recent months, as I traveled the length and breadth of our beautiful country, many people shared with me their stories of hardship, and need and despair.
“Against that backdrop, we face the many crises borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic: tragic numbers of our people are becoming ill and dying, our hospitals in a state of collapse, our doctors and nurses and other frontline workers pleading for support to shore up our healthcare system.
“The economy is also in decline as we face an historically high deficit and debt. The news of the downgrade yesterday underscores the severity of the fiscal crisis and the urgency of moving quickly to address it.”
Moody’s announced the downgrade one day after the general election.
It downgraded the government of The Bahamas’ long-term issuer and senior unsecured rating to Ba3 from Ba2 and maintained the negative outlook.
Davis said on Saturday he is also “deeply concerned” by the challenges in education.
“Thousands of young Bahamians have missed out on their education during the past few years – first because of the displacement caused by Hurricane Dorian, then because of the way the COVID-19 crisis has been managed,” he said.
Davis noted that some individuals have questioned why his government would want to serve “when the problems are so difficult”.
“But my team and I offered ourselves for public service precisely because these problems are so difficult and precisely because we believe that we have the right vision, the right policies and the right team to take this country forward,” Davis said.
“We will not fail if we keep the best interests of the Bahamian people as our guiding north star.”