A new Bahamas for a new generation
DR. HUBERT MINNIS
Published: Sep 24, 2013
As I look to the future of our nation, I see an FNM government which is committed to offering Bahamians ownership and opportunity in every facet of society.
Collectively, it appears that after all these years we all stand in a precarious position. This is unacceptable. We are planted at the beginning of another generation of nationhood, mindful that the first 40 years of sovereignty were about equality, race relations and exponential growth; and we stand determined that the next 40 must be about even greater growth, national development and tangible empowerment for all our citizens.
I am a firm believer that we Bahamians are a grateful people. Yes, we welcome job opportunities in the Bahamian economy, but it is now time that more of us own this Bahamian economy. Strengthening the economic vision must be priority number one. The systems which govern our everyday lives must be strategically revamped. Banking, investments, education, health and many others are screaming out for change. I am proud to lead this charge for change.
Ownership, opportunity, empowerment, expansion and growth. No longer must we see foreign investment in any project coming to our shores as complete, without Bahamian participation and/or partnership. Now is the time to bristle at the thought that it’s okay for the average man and woman to toil endlessly creating wealth for lucrative and monopolistic companies which offer very little chance to those same workers to get out from under borderline poverty.
Entrepreneurship must be open, accessible and available to all Bahamians. Bahamian businesses presently face far too many obstacles and red tape when trying to start or expand any commercial venture. Small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, must have easier access to capital to grow, resulting in greater employment of our citizens by Bahamian-owned companies, committed to the building of the economy of this country. Small and medium-sized businesses must be able to receive greater assistance in navigating their way through the basics of commerce. Easily accessible help to navigate licensing requirements and compliance; breaking the code of predatory lending by clearing banks in particular; simplifying loan processes of local commercial lenders – all these actions ensure that a greater percentage of Bahamian business persons can meet the criteria to qualify for loans to start and/or expand their businesses.
Established Bahamian companies must also be encouraged and incentivized by government to foster greater employee productivity, loyalty and industrial harmony, through offering employees greater participation in said company, via limited stock purchases, so that they will receive a direct benefit as the growth and profitability increase.
These ideas may seem far-fetched and almost shocking coming from Bahamian political leadership. After all, considering the way in which we have created the current topsy-turvy economic climate, I can only be effective leading our nation by pledging to make it my business to start moving us in a forward motion to change – change which benefits all citizens of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Taking our country forward
A caring government helps its people. As leader of the FNM and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, I understand this concept; I can accomplish the task of revamping our country.
While I stress the economic situation in our country, I am aware that a fervent commitment to fixing, once and for all, our education and healthcare systems is also necessary in this new Bahamas which I am excited to lead. An FNM government under my leadership has a comprehensive action plan to effect sweeping change throughout the archipelago. I am asking Bahamians to join me in repeating the often used mantras that “Change is good!”, “Change is inevitable!”.
As leader of the opposition, MP for Killarney, as well as leader of the FNM, I assure you that I am against the notion that politics as usual is enough to build the new Bahamas. I assure you that the methods utilized in the first 40 years of nationhood will be a stark contrast to the tools we shall have to use to re-position our nation. The tools and strategies outlined here will guarantee that we survive in a rapidly changing, globally connected and much more competitive world.
My quest to embrace change is clearly evident by my conduct: standing up for anyone’s right to free speech, demanding accountability when our country veers off course, making work for all Bahamians.
Rest assured that each and every stance I take in Parliament, in the constituency I represent, in the party which I lead, is all about greater empowerment of our people and this country which I love: the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Despite my quest to make all these lofty goals a priority, I feel compelled to address recent pronouncements in the press by members of the PLP. As leader of the opposition, it is my job to ensure that each and every decision made by government is in the best interest of all Bahamians. My primary goal is to create a sense of fairness for all citizens.
To suggest, either by subtle innuendo or outright fabrication, that I seek to collaborate, conspire and collude to betray the country that I love is preposterous.
Despite what many opposite would have you believe, as leader of the opposition, I am a part of the Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Every decision I have made in those hallowed halls of Parliament has been in the best interest of my people. I am first and foremost a loyal citizen of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. I am a patriot and will challenge anyone who questions my patriotism.
Patriotism sometimes means doing things that may be unpopular and difficult, but they must be done because it is the right thing to do. As a leader, I firmly believe that we must be on a conscious path to build a more just and equitable society for present and future generations of Bahamians. At times, leadership also means doing the hard things and making hard decisions, which ultimately benefit all of our citizens and not just the select few.
As leader of the FNM, I stand proud on our party’s legacy of stressing the importance of women in political leadership. Our party’s deputy leader, Loretta Butler-Turner, and I stand committed as a strong team, ensuring that we seek to build this country in positive and meaningful ways, while holding this present administration accountable for its actions and ensuring it is honest and transparent in its governance.
We embrace women in the FNM and value their contribution to our developing nation.
In 2012, while announcing our parliamentary team, I made it clear that the FNM seats in the upper chamber would be filled on a rotation schedule, allowing us to team expertise and sage wisdom with youthful, neophyte exuberance.
We are very fortunate in the Free National Movement to boast of a perfect mix of the seasoned, mature and sage with the novel, eager and forward thinking.
The recent announcement by Senator Desmond Bannister to resign his Senate seat was no surprise for the opposition. We thank Bannister for his commitment to being Senate leader for the year that he agreed to and we know his commitment to our parliamentary team is unwavering. Please be aware that my intention has always been to fill the position of Senate leader with a seasoned member of our party and when I announce Bannister’s replacement, all will see that my party has not changed its stance or strategy in the Senate.
• Dr. Hubert Minnis is the leader of the Free National Movement and the leader of the opposition.