With the country gearing up for a general election, Bahamas Faith Ministries Senior Pastor Dave Burrows said the country must set realistic and far-reaching goals that transcend political periods, and that there should be a national strategic plan that transcends political parties and that involves all Bahamians. He said without a vision, people and nations perish.
Burrows penned a communication which he said is not meant to be a comprehensive document, but a contribution to the overall discussion that would further stimulate moves toward a well-planned and researched future. He disseminated to political and activist leaders in consideration of ideas and principles that would place the country in the best position for future success.
In what he called his strategic planning ideas for The Bahamas’ future, Burrows addressed basic needs and provisions inclusive of food, housing/shelter, clothing, health and the economy; as well as the Family Islands, tourism, natural resources, immigration, youth development, values and morals.
“This vision must incorporate at least a 25-year period with periodic reviews and assessments. The vision and plan should cover every aspect of Bahamian life including economic, social, and cultural.
“I have no political affiliation or agenda but do possess a passion for the future of our country. Some of what is shared is for immediate consideration and some are important principles that I believe should be embedded into our framework for the future. Some of these ideas may not be economically feasible in the short term but I believe will ensure long-term viability. No country in the world lacks resources, the only issue is how the resources are managed and distributed,” said Burrows.
As the country rebounds from the most catastrophic and life altering event of this time, he said we face an unprecedented challenge of returning to life with new paradigms and unforeseen challenges that fundamentally affect the way people approach life and business.
“The foremost question on the minds of our citizens is where do we go from here? The other question is how do we go from here?
“According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we all have basic needs that are essential to effective functioning. Without basic needs being met, an individual cannot be self-actualized and meet his or her highest potential. In the same way a country that cannot provide for its basic needs becomes a limited state, especially in times of crisis.”
He also said that no one in The Bahamas should be involuntarily homeless, especially in times of crisis. His suggestion is that all citizens who are unable to afford housing be provided with housing built by the government or in partnership with private landlords where a subsidy is paid directly to the landlord and not to the individuals. He suggests that the act would also include a provision for food vouchers to ensure that no one goes hungry.
Burrows also recommends that a tiered system of National Health Insurance be implemented where all citizens pay into a fund while allowing for those who can afford to, to have supplementary private insurance. He said there should be a universal basic option that covers everyone in the country.
“People should not die because they have limited income and persons who have pre-existing conditions or who are advanced in age should not be abandoned and left to fend for themselves or receive the lowest level of care or no care at all.”
Simultaneously, Burrows suggested a deliberate education and incentive campaign be implemented to encourage healthier lifestyles. And that a way should be found to reduce the cost of healthy foods, with the implementation of a “sugar” or “six” tax on certain unhealthy products.
In is communication, he addresses that there be a deliberate attempt to broaden and deepen the economy.
“Liberalizing the economy essentially means opening it up for Bahamians to benefit in all sectors,” she said. And he recommends the use of the inherent gifts that exists in Family Islands and capitalize on its potential.
“Where feasible, and in line with global trade policies, we must increase taxes on imported items and assist the local farmer and investors to produce the numbers and quality needed,” he said.
“Tourism is inseparable from The Bahamas as a major industry and thus will always play a prominent role in our development. As a result of the pandemic, it might look different, especially in the short term, but people will always want to come here, and we cannot dislodge the foundation of our economy but instead look to supplement it.”
National productivity he said should become priority and that everyone who is able to, should work.
“Idleness is as debilitating to a country as any other illness or social ill. Every citizen should be productive in some way, whether it is a service job for an agency or some service that is needed in the community. Whether it is physical work or work through technology or social media, everyone should have a productivity requirement, unless they are totally disabled or incapacitated and unable to do any work.”
For the future, he said it must be ensured that resources benefit the Bahamian people and “owners” of the land.
Resources such as solar energy (and other green energy) he said need to be immediately expanded and accommodated through aggressive legislation allowing for the incorporation and utilization of solar energy into the local grid with a view to having solar energy become the dominant form of energy by 2030.
Of all the resources The Bahamas possesses, he said the most important are the people and the young people carry the greatest potential.
“Anything we achieve economically can be easily destroyed if our young people do not possess the values needed to ensure that our population and guests are safe.
“We have seen what is possible when young people are engaged in productive activity like sports, arts, culture, business and inspirational pursuits. The Bahamas has produced world-wrenowned athletes, entrepreneurs, entertainers and professionals and the key to our future success is the implementation and support of programs and entities that place our youth in the best position to succeed.”
Burrows said the country’s focus should be dual and that the youth must be developed and trained to be leaders and excel in every profession; and on the other hand, programs and training must be in place to rescue those who have fallen victim to gangs, substance abuse and crime.
“The plans for nonmilitary national service should be revisited and reformulated to ensure that our young people are involved in service to the community and in the process infused with the values of community building,” he wrote.
VALUES AND MORALS
And while he said morals cannot be legislated, law and order, he said, can.
“Our nation will only succeed if our citizens possess the values that create order, compassion, and fairness. If we have a morally corrupt citizenry, every institution will be contaminated, and we can never achieve our goals. To this end, continued and expanded engagement with the church in general and bodies such as the Christian Council are essential to maintain this moral and spiritual focus.”