Philp “Brave” Davis, addressing the decisions of the Minnis Administration.
Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philp “Brave” Davis, addressing the media and viewers via social media Tuesday morning, said the decisions of the Minnis Administration are threatening to turn the clock back on the progress the country has seen in its 47 years since independence.
He was notably referring to the FNM government’s severe cuts for education, it’s apparent disregard for putting Bahamians first and its seeming lack of planning where food security is concerned, among other things.
According to Davis, what Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and his cabinet have displayed in only three years in office goes against the promise of independence.
“The promise of independence was more than just freedom from colonial rule. It was also the promise of self-determination, the right to lead lives of dignity and purpose. It was the promise of unlocking for the first time, real economic opportunity and empowerment for all of our people,” he said, adding that at the heart of that promise to empower Bahamians was and remains - for the PLP - the provision of education for all.
“Education is not a cost; it is an investment in all of our futures,” the PLP Leader stressed.
He said slashes to the current education budget – which significantly impacts the University of The Bahamas – threatened to slash pportunities for the next generation and determines the viability of the University for the future. Massive cuts in scholarship benefits and funding for UB to the tune of just over $16 million will deny thousands of students a tertiary education, asserted Davis. “This is not only regressive, but totally reprehensible,” he said.
He said if The Bahamas is to meet the challenges of the current health and economic crises, and seize whatever opportunities are available for a better Bahamas, investment in education must be continued and expanded.
He added that the recent decision to essentially fire junior doctors just completing their required year-long internship, particularly at a time when COVID-19 still poses a major threat and professionals in the health care industry are very much needed, makes no sense.
“We should be building our health capacity,” he said. “We need trained doctors on every island a partnership training programme in place to ensure that our young doctors receive the specialized training necessary to adequately address the health needs of our people.”
Speaking to the issue of Baker’s Bay, Davis said the Minnis Administration’s allowance of some 135 Work permits for Mexican nationals to enter the country and work on the property goes against the country’s Bahamianization policy and to add insult to injury, it’s happening when there are high numbers of unemployed Bahamians in The Bahamas. He pointed out that Bahamians built Baker’s Bay and he suggested that if they built it, they can repair, renovate and restore it.
“The excuse of insufficient qualified Bahamians has run its course and is totally unacceptable... This decision flies in the face of Bahamianization, an immigration policy that was established under the PLP which formed the foundation for the professional, merchant and middle classes in this country,” explained Davis. The government he said ought to revisit its decision.
Looking toward the way forward, the Cat Island Member of Parliament noted that as a people, independence could not be discussed seriously without addressing the issue of food security. The FNM, he said, has yet to articulate a clear policy on BAMSI and its role in national food security.
“Mr. Pintard, the current Agriculture Minister, is at odds with the stated objection of BAMSI by its previous chairman, so which is it,” questioned Davis as he sought to give his stance on the matter.
“The Bahamas needs to build its food production capacity and BAMSI is the vehicle to achieve this through education, research, training, development and extension.
“Surely,” he continued, “if that industry supported 10,000 jobs and 90,000 acres under civilization in 1978, the economic empowerment opportunities are boundless in a post-COVID-19 era.”
Wrapping up his weekly press conference, the PLP Leader noted that the next PLP government will put education for all at the center of its administration’s policy focus.
“This was and still is one of the major promises of Independence.
“This is a very serious time for our country – and this FNM government continues to fail the people. The Progressive Liberal Party stands ready to offer the kind of competent and compassionate leadership the country is crying out for,” he said.