Two years in, Davis touts achievements 

Prime Minister Philip Davis and members of the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) marked their second anniversary in office over the weekend with Davis declaring at a service at Mount Tabor Church yesterday that his administration has the opportunity to build on the progress it has made “to drive real change throughout our nation”.

While stating that Bahamians are striving and staking their claim to greatness, the prime minister said “there is also a frustration that has set in”.

“We want to see more income equality, peaceful communities, food security, improved public healthcare, and more opportunities for Bahamians to own homes and successful businesses,” Davis said.

“The desire to see progress on these national challenges is what inspired me to enter politics and continues to motivate me to this day.”

He added, “Two years ago, when the PLP came into office, we said that we were not here to maintain the status quo. We were here to lay the foundation for big changes as we take steps toward a fairer and more prosperous society for all Bahamians.

“Our first priority was to drive the recovery of the economy and job market, strengthen the healthcare system, and reopen schools.

“So many people were suffering financially, going hungry, and praying for better days. We moved immediately to expand support to those who needed it the most while rolling out a new, data-driven approach to combatting COVID-19.”

He said that within months “the economy roared back to life”, and “we began seeing major progress as hope returned to our nation”.

The prime minister added, “With the recovery well on its way, we began laying the foundation for change in those early days by increasing the national minimum wage, lowering customs duties, investing in food security, and taking care of our public servants by increasing salaries and decreasing backlogs.

“We invested in clinics, airports, and roads on various Family Islands to pave the way for economic growth. Tourism arrivals are now at record levels, unemployment is at its lowest levels in 15 years, and Bahamians are getting the opportunity to own their own homes through our housing developments.

“We are securing the future by advancing the global conversation on climate change and developing practical solutions to finance our progress toward climate-resilient infrastructure and renewable energy for cleaner, cheaper, more affordable power generation.”

Davis said the outcome being experienced was “not inevitable”.

“There were those who gripped by fear, warned that opening the economy would worsen the pandemic,” he said. 

Upon coming to office on September 16, 2021, one of his first acts as prime minister was to extend the existing 9 p.m. curfew to 11:59 p.m.

The economy was otherwise already open, growing by 14 percent that year.

The prime minister also said yesterday, “There were those who were afraid that increasing the minimum wage would slow down employment. Even experts were afraid, predicting that the tourism industry would take years to recover; some even predicted that the cruise industry would never recover. But look at God. The economy is booming, we are thriving, and it is now up to us to use this opportunity to build a better tomorrow for all Bahamians.”

The Bahamas National Statistical Institute (BNSI) reported in June that the unemployment rate in The Bahamas was recorded at 8.8 percent in May 2023.

That was the first Labour Force Survey conducted since December 2019 when unemployment was recorded at 10.7 percent on New Providence (the only island where the survey was conducted after Hurricane Dorian impacted Grand Bahama and Abaco).

At the start of this year, the government increased minimum wage in the country from $210 per week to $260.

The prime minister has continued to tout this as an important achievement, along with the early decision to lower value-added (VAT) tax from 12 percent to 10 percent — though putting VAT on previously zero-rated items attracted much criticisms.

Davis said yesterday, “We now have the opportunity to build on the progress we’ve made to drive real change throughout our nation. It’s what our nation needs, and it’s what our people deserve. I am a firm believer that through God, there is nothing that we cannot do when we come together as one, united, just as we are in fellowship today.

“The way forward is promising. It will also have its share of difficulties. Very few things worth achieving are easy. One thing you can be sure of when it comes to this PLP government is that we will never stop fighting on behalf of the Bahamian people. That is a promise we will always live up to.”

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Candia Dames

Candia Dames is the executive editor of The Nassau Guardian.

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