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Bahamian Politics Last Updated: Aug 18, 2020 - 7:57:54 AM

PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper MP in response to National Address by PM Minnis
Aug 17, 2020 - 10:52:11 PM

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August 17th, 2020:

Tonight, we listened with great interest to see what news the Prime Minister would bring to Bahamians, and to see what plans the government has in place to address the urgent health and economic crises currently facing our country.

I have been in close consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, and he has authorized me to issue the following statement.

The soaring number of COVID-19 infections in our country is full testament to the fact that the government’s approach is not working.

This cycle of lockdowns and curfews which Bahamians have been made to endure for almost six months, simply isn’t working.

The suffering caused by the economic hardship is forcing many people into destitution.

This latest lockdown, imposed without any warning, seems especially cruel. What are people to do who simply do not happen to have enough food, water and other basic necessities at home tonight?
What are essential workers who were at work today when food stores, pharmacies and gas stations were open to do now?

The Prime Minister should at least have given people a chance to prepare. Even hurricanes come with more warning.

The fact that the Prime Minister still refuses to answer any questions about his decisions and actions is inexcusable.
If he is so confident that what he is doing is right, why not accept questions from members of the press, who have clearly taken the trouble to inform themselves about this pandemic?

Simply issuing orders through national addresses is widening the trust deficit and undermining confidence in his authority.
This is not what the writers of The Constitution intended.

The Prime Minister often referred to what is happening in other countries, but every single other country in the world has a better recovery rate than The Bahamas.
We must urgently learn from them, and make strenuous efforts not to be the worst-performing country, but instead, the best.

It did not have to be like this.

As we have said repeatedly since April, the science is clear that the key to success is in widespread testing.
We are still only testing people with symptoms.
This is simply too late as the virus is spread before people develop symptoms.

A better economic plan to support families, households and businesses must also be implemented.
Lurching from week to week, and month to month as we have been, is simply not working.

Finally, once again we urge the Prime Minister to change course, and establish a proper Competent Authority, as envisioned in The Constitution, made up of experts and sector specialists, who can bring better decision-making to get on top of this crisis.

As ever, the Opposition welcomes the opportunity to engage in meaningful consultation with the government to support better decision-making and actions in the interests of the Bahamian people.

We thank the Prime Minister for his good wishes for those members of our team who have been directly affected by this virus.

In a similar spirit of Bahamian brotherhood, we extend our best wishes to the many members of the government and their staff, who are currently in quarantine or isolation suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 virus: the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, The Minister of Education, and the many public offices throughout which this virus has spread. We pray that they and their families are safe and well. As we all know, this virus does not discriminate.

We continue to offer our heartfelt thanks to all the healthcare workers, and all those working on the frontline to help fight the spread of the virus.

We also extend our thoughts and good wishes to the thousands of Bahamians who are also suffering from the health and economic effects of this crisis, and pray that the Almighty God bestows his blessings, mercy and wisdom upon us .

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