Categorized | Featured, National News

Government Unveils Ambitious Agenda


The Christie administration unveiled its ambitious legislative agenda yesterday as Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes read the Cabinet-prepared Speech from the Throne which addressed crime, the economy and social programmes.

The governor general read that the government’s five-year roadmap seeks to reduce violence and crime and build a safer Bahamas.

Secondly, the government intends to build a stronger economy that generates jobs, deepens and broadens Bahamian ownership and produces a higher standard of living.

“Those twin imperatives will dominate the agenda for action of my new government,” Sir Arthur read.

“At the same time, however, my government will also move as resolutely as fiscal realities allow to implement the full range of programmes, legislative proposals and policy initiatives promised in the platform entitled ‘Charter for Governance.’”

The government said it has already implemented two of its promises in its first week of governance – the creation of the Ministry of Grand Bahama and the restoration of the Ministry of Financial Services.

As part of its crime legislation, the government will implement the Urban Renewal Programme and Commission, a National Crime Management Agenda, Provisions to the Police Act, a National Intelligence, a National Firearms Control Strategy and Firearms Department and database, Witness Protection programme and School and Tourism Policing.

The government also said it will re-equip and reposition the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) to more effectively combat menaces.

“Violence and crime corrode the very fabric of a nation. They must therefore be attacked and eradicated at the root if we are to build a secure and prosperous society. My government is absolutely determined to pursue this objective with unbounded energy, imagination and unwavering dedication,” Sir Arthur read.

The government also plans to go full steam ahead with its mortgage relief programme.

It says it will work with clearing banks and other institutional lenders to develop a financially sustainable mortgage relief programme aimed at assisting distressed homeowners.

In addition, the government will seek to bring employment pension funds under closer regulation and supervision to ensure that pension funds are duly protected. The government will also look to stimulate the real estate market and plans to make good on its commitment to lower the maximum rate of stamp duty on land sales from 12 to 10 per cent.

The government also intends to enact amendments to the Subdivision Act, Rental Control Act and pursue the expansion of affordable housing especially for lower income Bahamians.

“My government regards this as a social priority that requires focused and sustained attention,” Sir Arthur read.

When it comes to the economy, the Christie administration said it is focused on private enterprises as it believes that should remain the primary engine of job creation and entrepreneurial opportunity in the country and that tourism and financial services, supported by industrial expansion, fisheries and agricultural production should be the chief areas of economic activity in the country.

“In this regard, my government is committed to the formulation and execution of policies that will encourage private investment in these areas while maximising job creation and career development for Bahamians in the shortest possible time,” the governor general read.

The government says that it is also of the view that the current tax system is “inadequate to meet the needs of a modern 21st century society.” “My government will therefore launch an extensive review of the Bahamian tax system with a view to proposing alternative means of taxation that address the problems of the current system while providing the government with a stable, buoyant and adequate source of revenue to meet its governance obligations to the Bahamian people,” the governor general read.

In Grand Bahama, the government plans to implement a number of initiatives including the grant of special concessions to promote the economic development of the island. In that vein, the government plans to extend the Hawksbill Agreement – which exempts businesses from taxes – to east and west Grand Bahama.

In an effort to revitalise the country’s tourism industry, the government intends on tapping into the Asian and Latin American markets, focusing on the refurbishment and redevelopment of downtown Nassau and creating opportunities for Bahamians to own their own hotels through a National Resort Development Initiative.

The government also intends to create ambitious programmes for agriculture, education and health among other things. “As my government now sets about the urgent tasks that I have just outlined it shall be forever mindful that in all things God must come first and that without him at the centre of our efforts, we labour in vain,” Sir Arthur read.

“My government shall also remain mindful of the need for complete integrity in the stewardship of the people’s affairs. Its commitment in this regard is absolute and will remain so.

Finally, my government believes in Bahamians and in the capacity and determination of the Bahamian people to overcome all the many challenges that lie before us. Armed with a common purpose and united in patriotism and love for one another, we shall indeed overcome and achieve for our nation the greatness that is its destiny.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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