EDITOR, The Tribune.
IN a few short weeks the FNM administration, led by the Hon Prime Minister, Hubert A Minnis (FNM-Killarney), along with other Bahamians, will be celebrating one year since that party’s return to office. They have made a few missteps and the PM has demonstrated that he is incapable of coherently and decisively articulating and initiating public policy initiatives. It is to be remembered, however, that while he, the PM that is, is regarded as a good medical doctor, his leadership style leaves much, in my view, to be desired.
A recent poll indicates a slippage in the public support for the FNM and some ‘concerns’ about the PM. I am a New Deal PLP and the Hon Philip ‘Brave’ Davis,QC (PLP-Cat Island) is my beloved and well respected political leader. Having said this, however, the FNM and Minnis, barring an Act of God, will govern The Bahamas for the next four years. It is, therefore, in the interest of all Bahamians that they, in fact, succeed with getting our wonderful country and our people, collectively, on the right track.
Dr Minnis appears to be a hard headed individual and may not be prone to ‘listening’ to what might be good advice. May I, with your leave, suggest six public policy initiatives which they should roll out and restore the electorate’s confidence in them.
(1) The communications organs of the government are failing, big time, to effectively package and disseminate the ‘message’ and ‘mission statement’ of the administration. The PM, as primus inter pares (first among equals) has the clarion responsibility to revamp these organs and put in place individuals who are able to craft coherent and motivational initiatives. The Bahamas Broadcasting Corporation should have been privatised long ago. Bahamas Information Services is in shambles and it would appear that that entity is a mere repository for known and alleged FNM party hacks. The Press Secretary, my good friend, Anthony ‘Ace’ Newbold, is in over his head.
(2) Public Works, between the public and private sectors. are critical to jump start the local economy, especially here in New Providence and Grand Bahama. The central government claims to be strapped for cash. It would be a win/win situation, for example, government could invite credible building contractors and developers to submit proposals to conceptualise; arrange financing and actually build residential homes in subdivisions to be developed from Crown Grants of land.
A new and modern Main Post Office is badly needed, not only to service Bahamians but also as a touristic draw when visitors come to New Providence. Again, the government could allow a long term lease of the current site at East Hill Street to a consortium of private investors. This consortium would then build a brand new building, with private funding, while having a Heads of Agreement with the government for it to lease space in that structures for assorted governmental ministries and agencies.
(3) New centrally located mini hospitals are also badly needed in both the Western District/ City of Carmichael and up in the Eastern District/ City of Fox Hill. In most cases, especially where one may have no reliable means of transport, it is too far and it takes too long to get to the PMH. It is possible that individuals have died or may die as a result of the distance and time involved. This is unacceptable. Again, the government could invite assorted consortium of medical practitioners to partner with it to conceptualise; design and build a state of the art facility on Crown Land but the government would be obliged to staff the facilities and install equipment. The consortium would share the profits on a percentage basis with the Public Hospital Authority.
(4) Job creation by the government is at a saturation point. The Civil Service is simply too huge and it sucks away too much governmental resources without an appreciated level of productivity and efficiency. Entrepreneurs must be encouraged, big time, so as to allow the private sector to pick up the slack in employment. In that vein, the central government should partner with the web industry, et al, to set up a Venture Capital Fund that would receive injections of monies from them both. The funds would then be managed and allocated by a nonpartisan professional administrators. This would, in my view, get the PM and the FNM much needed breathing space and generate considerable good will and political points.
(5) Land is economic wealth. The PM, as Minister responsible for Crown Land, should appoint a commission to consider granting or conveying a minimum of one acre to ‘qualified’ and ‘right thinking Bahamians’ in the Family Island of their origin and, if possible a half acre track to others who are confined to New Providence. Once the grant/conveyance is made the individual would have a minimum period of time in which to either construct a home or a commercial building. This would result in massive construction and instant employment of hundreds and thousands who are in the construction and development industries.
(6) Shuffle the cabinet and replace those individuals who have already proven to be in the wrong portfolio. The PM and his advisors should know just who they are so I will not, at this time, opine on that.
And so, we all should wish the FNM to succeed going forward. It is largely up to the Hon Prime Minister, however, to get a grip on his administration; restructure and re-brand the core mission statement of his party and government and, critically important, transform himself, no matter how difficult, into the mode of a real and inspirational leader. To God then, in all things, be the glory.
ORTLAND H BODIE Jr
April 14, 2018.