PM Davis: Early Indicators ‘Suggest Grounds for Cautious Optimism’

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Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis speaks, during his Opening Contribution to the Debate on the Mid-Year Budget Statement, in the House of Assembly, on March 16, 2022. (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

By: By Eric Rose/Bahamas Information Services

During his Opening Contribution to the Debate on the Mid-Year Budget Statement, in the House of Assembly, on March 16, 2022, Prime Minister and Min. of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said that the period covered by the Statement only covered two and half months of his Government’s time in office, so it was too early for the full effects of many of its policy changes to have manifested. However, he noted, many early indicators suggest “grounds for cautious optimism.”

“Bahamians are overwhelmingly welcoming the fresh approach of our New Administration,” Prime Minister said. “There is a new-found sense of hope that their lives, and the life of the country, will improve.” He added: “We’re starting to dig out from under the rubble. Our economy is finally moving in the right direction. We are hard at work, implementing our ‘Blueprint For Change’, the policy platform which includes our ‘Economic Plan’ and our ‘COVID Action Plan’.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that, at the end of October of the past year, a month or so after his government was elected, it presented a Supplementary Budget in order to re-allocate government resources to priority areas; prioritize immediate relief for the Bahamian people; and lay the foundation for a “robust recovery” of the Bahamian economy.

“Six months in, we have made important progress,” he said. “We ended the Emergency Orders. We ended the curfews. We have conducted tens of thousands of free COVID tests. We have distributed hundreds of thousands of free, medical-grade masks.

“We ended the expensive travel health visa for Bahamians,” Prime Minister Davis added. “We hired more nurses. We paid healthcare workers what they were owed.

“Our hotels are filling up and our businesses are open. We’ve got our children back in school, and employees back to work.” Prime Minister Davis said that competence and compassion in government matter; but that was only the beginning, and so much work remained.

“We look forward to announcing significant new policies and new investments in 2022,” he said. “We can’t afford to stand still.”

“In a time of climate change, geopolitical turmoil, and global pandemics, we need to adapt, to innovate, to grow, to diversify, and to transform,” he added. “Take prices — global prices have been rising, as demand outstrips supply; the Russian invasion of Ukraine puts upward pressure on oil and food prices; and COVID outbreaks in China are having an impact on manufacturing,” Prime Minister Davis continued.

“Therefore, for Bahamians, the effect of the reduction in VAT to 10%, which falls just outside this reporting period, has been blunted by rising prices caused by global economic conditions.” Prime Minister noted, however, that many Bahamian families were still really struggling.

“Eleven thousand households are currently receiving food assistance,” he said. “We know we need to reach more.”

“We need to be flexible, and continue to adjust public finances in ways that maximise opportunity and minimise negative impacts for Bahamians,” he added.

“In addition, the technical teams at the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Social Services, are preparing to introduce a nationwide RISE programme, which will provide substantial benefits to many Bahamian families.”

While concluding his remarks, Prime Minister Davis said that his government would continue to bring forward policies that were “purposeful and
compassionate.”

“We have already done things which others said were impossible, and we’re only getting started,” he said.

“Because we have our faith, because we have our families, and because we have each other, we are building a new, inclusive future,” he added.

“May God Bless The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”