By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Perry Christie said yesterday that it has become increasingly clear that The Bahamas must undergo a series of self-examination processes to achieve higher global standards.
As a part of his clarion call to the nation to adhere to the proposals being developed by the National Development Planning Unit, Mr Christie said The Bahamas must come to grips with the “great deal of heavy lifting” yet to be done as the country continues to move forward.
The Centreville MP, who was speaking at the opening of the Inter-American Development Bank’s joint national development plan seminar, said the only way to improve the Bahamas’ current position would be through true self-analysis in the public and private sector.
He suggested that modern times present the need for governments to be more transparent in their operations.
“Particularly at a time in The Bahamas where we are faced with complex issues and increasingly so, where the absolute necessity for understanding what is happening in the outside world is even more profoundly important than it has ever been before in our history and where the challenges of government have been able to be ignored by not having them confront you,” said Mr Christie.
He added: “If we do not make a number of changes now, that divide will widen and we will be left behind and many of our citizens will feel even more marginalised. So there is this compelling urgency of making decisions now that are important to The Bahamas. There is a small window of opportunity to make some very hard choices and key changes. All changes take courage in government particularly as you approach general elections.
“The accountability, whether at my level, the ministerial level, the permanent secretary level; accountability is important. Knowing and having the capacity to do the job is critical. And you must clearly be able to meet the standard that is so vitally important today.”
As proposed, the Vision2040 National Development Plan would address systematic flaws that exist in both the public and private sector, aiming to, for the first time, drive social, economical, environmental and governmental reform from a national, non-partisan platform.
Mr Christie said the plan once implemented would give successive administrations something to aspire to.
Crime and poverty
Addressing crime through the prism of the 2040 plan, Mr Christie said the future of the fight against crime must be built around programmes crafted and maintained by data.
“Lives are extinguished with an unimaginable degree of callousness,” he said. “Good, up to date data is essential if we are to understand the root causes of crime.”
Mr Christie said the value of information is key to combating the criminal element as it presents platforms to both measure and manages programmes and procedures.
“When the data suggests that a programme is not working let us discontinue that programme and redirect resources towards effective interventions. We have seen the importance of data driven solutions to those agencies fighting crimes, but it is not just limited to these agencies, data is vital to all government agencies,” he added.
“We can address crime and the fear of crime through innovative, data driven programmes guided by clear, well executed strategies leveraging the best technology as we move to a smarter Bahamas.”
Touching on the issue of poverty, Mr Christie described it as a circumstance that “robs” the Bahamian society of the potential of the human spirit and “blights” communities.
He cited statistics released in 2014 that show that 43,000 persons or 12.8 per cent of the population live in poverty. Of this figure, roughly 20 per cent are estimated to be children.
“This is probably the most critical point in our country,” he said.
According to Mr Christie, scores of Bahamians that now find themselves in poverty have now lost the will to move out of it.
“Today, all too often we have become hostage to poverty and the incentive to escape from it have been dulled and the will of people have been sapped. And so governments therefore have more and more been designing and devising interventions into people’s lives to provide a connection point to survive it – unemployment, homelessness – all of the social interventions that have been introduced.”
He also launched what he termed a 30-day challenge of public service innovation.
He challenged public service employees to submit ideas that could either strengthen existing services, improve an existing programme, propose a new programme or policy that could improve the lives of the citizens and residents that they serve daily.
Director of Economic Development and Planning in the Office of the Prime Minister, Dr Nicola Virgill-Rolle said the Vision 20140 plan is expected to be concluded in the coming weeks at which time it would be presented to the public for review.
Following the review process, the document will be reformatted to reflect any necessary changes and then advanced to Cabinet for review and then, if all goes well, implemented as a national plan in part or in full.