Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis at the FNM celebration for one year in office. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis last night took on his critics who say his administration has got off to a slow start, expressing confidence it has accomplished much already and is laying a foundation for future progress.
He said those who say the government has accomplished little are furthering their own "selfish interests" over the Bahamian people.
"I've been asked repeatedly what have we done and that we got off to a slow start," he said, speaking during a rally celebrating the one year anniversary of the Free National Movement's landslide election victory. "I want them all to hear that if you want to construct a building the first thing you do is clear the land. Nothing is seen; in public the building is moving slow. Next thing you do is lay the foundation. Nothing is seen; the building is moving slow. But come next year we will be out of the ground."
Dr Minnis provided a laundry list of what he considers the FNM's successes, from "stabilising public finances" to "addressing official corruption."
"For the first time since the Great Recession of 2008, we are seeing healthy and sustained economic growth," he said.
The International Monetary Fund this year credited recent economic improvements to the improving US economy and the success of Baha Mar; the FNM opposed Baha Mar's new leadership until after last year's election.
Nonetheless, Dr Minnis said: "More Bahamians are getting a job. But we still have a long way to go. We can achieve historic reform and revitalisation of this country together. Those who seek to divide us out of their own selfish and narrow interests, they are more loyal to their cause than they are to the needs of the Bahamian people. Those who say we have accomplished little have purposefully closed their eyes and ears because it is in their interest to sow discord."
During last night's rally, government ministers and parliamentarians promoted their successes as they see them.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest talked about the government's fiscal consolidation efforts. He said the administration "increased revenue collection by $25m", "reduced expenditure by $67m", and "reduced the GFS deficit by 92.3m".
Attorney General Carl Bethel said his office, with the help of the Law Reform Commission, produced new bills at a robust pace, including "more than 30," 18 of which have passed Parliament so far.
Some administration officials spoke of the past year while also pointing to goals for the next one.
"By this time next year, every single school in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is going to be 100 per cent digitised," Education Minister Jeff Lloyd said. "This coming summer we are going to build a brand new school in southwest New Providence, a primary school taking on 650 children; (we will build a) brand new school in Mathew Town, Inagua (and a) brand new school is going to be built in Gregory Town, Eleuthera..."