Government held Over-the-Hill Community Development White Paper town hall meeting

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Prime Minister Minnis addresses the town hall meeting at Bethel Baptist Church, May 2, 2018.

 Prime Minister Dr. the Hon Hubert A. Minnis took his vision for a remodeled Over-the-Hill area to the historic Bethel Baptist Church, Wednesday night, where scores of Bahamians got first-hand insight of policy objectives for the project.  The Prime Minister underscored the importance of Over-the-Hill White Paper Town Hall Meeting, held at the oldest Baptist Church in the country located on Meeting Street, which is part of the proposed revitalization development.  “I am pleased to see so many of you here tonight taking part in this process of consultation to give your feedback and voice your opinion on these plans,” he said.  The Prime Minister first introduced the White Paper in the House of Assembly on April 25, 2018, outlining his Government’s policy objectives for the rejuvenation of the historic Over-the-Hill Community.  It marked the beginning of a two-month consultation process on the plans that were outlined. The White Paper was published in local newspapers. It was in 2014 when the then Leader of the FNM spoke of his vision to transform the inner city communities, not only for the Over-the-Hill area.  “My vision was broad, and included any areas experiencing issues such as high levels of crime, poverty and social decay,” he said. “But as we all know, every journey begins with the first step, and what you are seeing today is the first step in that process.”

The Prime Minister stressed that the proposal is not just a tax exemption plan, but a “bold new initiative” designed to provide financial assistance to residents and businesses in the area.  More importantly, he added, the White Paper outlines a plan to not just “give a man a fish”, but it presents a plan to “teach a man how to fish”. The White Paper seeks to do just that, lend a helping hand.  The plan calls for six key pillars, designed to fully restore the Over-the-Hill community communities.
These areas include:
• Social Empowerment;
• Economic Empowerment;
• Rejuvenation;
• Smart Technology;
• Green and Sustainable Technology; and
• Programmes for the Youth and the Elderly.

“While I am prepared to drive the process, my team will execute the action plan and ensure its full implementation,” the Prime Minister said.  For those persons and businesses outside the Bain and Grants Town, or Centerville zone, he urged them not to lose hope.  “As this is all new, we are simply beginning a process, to create a blueprint or model.  We will reach out to other communities in due course,” he said.  The Prime Minister said that is confident that through this process, initiatives will be introduced, designed to restore these communities. He encouraged residents to provide suggestions and give their feedback on how their respective communities can be improved.  “After all you are the ones who live in these communities,” the Prime Minister said.  Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle, the Lead for the Government on the National Development Plan Vision 2040 and Director of Economic Development and Planning, and Marlon Johnson, Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance outlined various aspects of the project.

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