In his first public lecture under the auspices of the University of The Bahamas’ Government and Public Policy Institute (GPPI), Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis QC foreshadowed the completion of a national development plan for The Bahamas, announcing at the Meet the Policy Makers Lecture held on Tuesday 12th July that the draft plan is to be re-examined.
A part of Prime Minister Davis’ address was an historical reflection on the evolution of The Bahamas from pre-independence to a modern nation state. He also affirmed the value of long-term planning.
“Without a National Development Plan, the government of the day has to make decisions and choices, most of which are based on short-term needs. Given our five-year electoral cycle, it is easy to spend money on visible outcomes which might be sufficiently impressive to inspire a few votes. But the money might be better spent on less visible outcomes, such as improving coastal defences, which would prevent long-term coastal erosion,” he explained.
“Without a Plan, governments would also have to start every initiative from scratch, obtaining basic data, formulating options, and consulting the public before determining a course of action. Any rigorous planning exercise, done properly and well, helps to ensure success. It does not guarantee it, but without a plan, success is likely to be far more elusive.”
He pointed out that his administration’s approach to implementing a plan for national development will be impacted by the context which has been inherited, our values and the priorities guiding his administration.
He also espoused the principles of economic dignity and economic justice.
“By giving everyone a chance to earn a fair, decent income, everyone will prosper. What does this mean in practice? We will work to make the system of taxation fairer. We will work towards ensuring that workers earn not just a minimum wage, but a liveable wage. Complete economic equality is an unrealistic goal. What is achievable, however, and morally compelling, is to protect that which I believe to be the common denominator of humanity: the joy of life itself,” Prime Minister Davis said.
On the matter of his administration’s priorities, Mr. Davis identified education as the path to empowerment and prosperity, access to affordable and reliable healthcare, growing a strong economy, and a cultural and social paradigm shift. The Blueprint for Change outlines a substantial number of policies to recover, rebuild and revolutionize The Bahamas, he said.
According to the prime minister, his administration has considered the limits and possibilities of a National Development Plan and reviewed the approaches of previous governments.
In his remarks, GPPI Executive Director and Senior Policy Fellow Mr. Zhivargo Laing said the prime minister’s address was on a topic of seminal national importance.
“On the cusp of our nation’s 50th anniversary of independence, it is our honor to host this important national forum, one which we believe provides excellent dialogue for national policy education,” said Mr. Laing. “We are even more privileged to have for the first time the Prime Minister of our country to present a public policy lecture on a topic critical to our national development.”
A comprehensive process that engaged the feedback and insights of a wide cross-section of the Bahamian society led to the development of a first draft of a national development plan that was unveiled in 2016. A final document has not been completed. Entitled, Vision2040, the draft focuses on four main policy pillars: the economy, governance, social policy and the natural and built environment.
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