Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert A. Minnis is preparing the country for a digital public service, and for financial stability in the event of natural disasters – both in keeping with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He delivered the Charge during the Signing Ceremony for IDB Loans for: Government Digital Transformation to Strengthen Competitiveness, and The Contingent Loan for Natural Disasters, in Ballroom A of Meliã Nassau Beach resort on Monday, April 8, 2019. “Today, The Bahamas takes another significant step towards digital transformation,” the Prime Minister declared.
The loans are designed to modernize and digitize public services and
The foremost goals are to foster
The Prime Minister also confirmed that government services will be made easily available online to the residents of all major islands. Adding that, “We cannot only be Nassau-centric. Moreover, we must prepare Grand Bahama for the dynamic, new economy developing on that island.” The IDB Country Strategy with The Bahamas (2018-2022) aims to support the country in achieving a sustainable path of higher growth in a fiscally prudent manner. Some of the priority areas include enhancing public sector effectiveness and supporting resilient infrastructure for growth.
In its rationale for the loan, the Inter-American Development Bank notes, “a country’s competitiveness depends greatly on its ability to limit the burden of dealing with the public administration.” Government procedures will call for greater use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by the public service sector and by the public, he said. “The government will employ a ‘once only’ policy so that when one government agency owns or has a document or a bit of data every other agency will be prohibited from requesting the very same document again and again and again. This is ridiculous and unfair. The new system will be designed for inter-operability in which requisite data will be verified by the system,” the Prime Minister said.
The recently-launched Prime Minister’s Stakeholders Roundtable is made up of public and private sector partners to help shape, monitor and guide this transformation programme. “We are also exploring a consultancy within the region for the development of our National Information and Communications Technology strategy and digital agenda,” the Prime Minister said. Regarding The Contingent Loan for Natural Disasters, the Prime Minister drew reference to the report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) on the impact of Hurricanes, Joaquin, Matthew and Irma on The Bahamas “The direct damage, losses and additional costs were approximately ($828M) Eight Hundred and Twenty Eight Million Dollars,” the Prime Minister said.
In this vein, he stated that The Bahamas is preparing to better respond to natural disasters and thus minimize the potential loss of life and damage to property. “We must maximize our ability to recover as quickly as possible in order to quickly get our communities and the economy back on track following catastrophic events. A key part of any readiness plan is to have access to resources as quickly as possible to speed up response and recovery efforts.” The Prime Minister explained that this approach is consistent with developing an effective financial strategy to deal with disaster preparedness using the proceeds of the extinguished dormant accounts to set up an independently managed disaster relief fund and signing up once again for the regional insurance fund, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), in order to provide coverage for public infrastructure in the event of catastrophic damage. “Our administration will undertake proactive steps, to ensure that appropriate legislation and policy framework are in place to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and by extension the amount of ex-post resources required to rapidly restore normalcy in the aftermath of a natural disaster,” the Prime Minister said. “I am hopeful that the Bank will assist The Bahamas in this undertaking, along with technical assistance in creating the framework for a holistic disaster relief strategy.”
More images from the signing ceremony below: