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Gray ‘not surprised’ govt still funding BAMSI

  • Former Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V. Alfred Gray speaks with The Nassau Guardian during an interview at his office on Dowdeswell Street yesterday. AHVIA J. CAMPBELL

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Jun 14, 2017

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Former Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister V. Alfred Gray said although the Free National Movement (FNM) gave the impression that it would put an end to the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) if it was elected to govern during the 2017 campaign trail, he is “not surprised” at its decision to continue it.

“I wasn’t surprised, because I think during campaigns, as I have been aware over the many years, people say things that may sound good to their supporters, but when reality strikes, I think people who are reasonable do reasonable things,” Gray told The Nassau Guardian yesterday.

“A lot of promises were made that will not be possible [to keep] by the government.

“I know by now, they are now almost in the reality stage because the honeymoon is almost over.”

The new budget revealed that BAMSI will receive $8 million in 2017/2018.

The former government also budgeted $8 million for the program in 2016/2017.

It budgeted $7.4 million for BAMSI in 2015/2016.

BAMSI was among the programs heavily criticized by the current government.

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said before the government considers cutting allocations for programs like BAMSI, it must first consider human capital and fully review each program.

Gray said this is a good thing. He said he is hopeful that the government will make only improvements to the program.

“When we left office a couple of weeks ago, I had always anticipated that the FNM would not be wise to discontinue with the BAMSI operation,” he said.

“It would certainly be expected that they would make whatever minor adjustments they think is necessary, but during the campaign, I got the impression that they were not willing to carry on with the BAMSI that we know.

“Today, though, I got a different view from the budgetary exposition, in the sense that they are not only carrying it on but they seem to have embraced it.

“That’s good because this country needs a BAMSI.

“I expect that the future at BAMSI will be bright.

“The build out at BAMSI is about 98 percent complete, for the most part.

“The school is highly operational.

“The staff were all excited and anticipating, and I believe school closes this month, and during the summer break they will do whatever they need to do to make whatever adjustments they need to make but certainly to improve whatever we left in place will be my expectation.”

In its 2017 manifesto, the FNM pledged it would “legislate policy to establish, equip and appropriately staff BAMSI to function as a National Agriculture and Fisheries Research Institute (NAFRI) under the auspicious of the University of The Bahamas”.

BAMSI, whose Andros campus the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has labelled as one of its most important initiatives, has been heralded as a vehicle to reduce the nation's reliance on food imports by as much 10 percent, approximately $100 million in food import produce.

The Bahamas imports more than $1 billion worth of food every year.

However, the costing for the project to date remains unclear.

As of October 2014, the investment in BAMSI had reached $23 million, according to the Christie administration.

Whether it has managed to reduce The Bahamas’ reliance of food imports and by what margin remains unknown.



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