Remarks: Prime Minister Minnis' Third National Report for 2019
May 21, 2019 - 3:14:32 PM
The Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis
Commonwealth of the Bahamas
(Delivered on Monday, May 20, 2019)
Fellow Citizens and Residents:
Since January I have addressed you in two National Reports.
These reports are intended to provide updates on how your government is working for you.
It is one of my most important responsibilities to inform the Bahamian people as to how your Government is working to improve the daily lives and livelihoods of citizens and residents.
Tonight, in my third report, I wish to update you on a number of matters related to:
Fellow Citizens and Bahamians:
- land reform
- the environment
- health care
- energy reform
- general infrastructure
- digital transformation and modernization.
Since independence in 1973, successive governments established national institutions such as NIB, and built public infrastructure throughout our archipelago.
A major goal of our government is to continue the reform and modernization of our Bahamas through innovative ideas and technology.
One of our major reform efforts on the eve of our Golden Jubilee as an independent nation -- is a revolution in digital technology and the ongoing modernization of government.
This revolution includes much easier access to data and information through user-friendly platforms and applications.
It is often too cumbersome and too difficult for Bahamians and residents to access basic government information.
There must be easier access to information such as: the wide range of economic and tax concessions available for Bahamian investors and businesses, lists of companies and individuals who have government contracts, and other information and data that should be easily available to the public.
It should be easy for Bahamians to go online to report potholes, derelict vehicles, downed road signs and other basic matters.
While Government ministries and departments have made advances in digitization for years, they do not digitally talk to each other.
This puts the onus and the burden on the citizen to do what government should be doing. Government should work for the people -- not the other way around.
We 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.
No longer will the Passport Office or the Ministry of the Public Service ask you for your birth certificate or marriage certificate.
Citizens and residents will only need to carry one card which will be something like a modified version of the NIB card.
We will upgrade cyber security to ensure that your information and the government’s services are protected.
To continue our digital transformation strategy the Government is launching, over the next several months, a pilot project for: passport renewals, driver’s license renewals and the verification of birth and marriage certificates.
Fellow Bahamians and Residents:
Land Reform remains a key priority of our Administration.
Through the Ministry of the Environment and Housing we will transfer several thousand serviced lots throughout The Bahamas to Bahamians over the next several years.
We are working to clear the land application backlog at the Department of Lands and Surveys.
We are restructuring the application process for Crown Land. We will reduce the number of months to attain Land Leases or Crown Grants.
Land reform is not an easy or quick fix. But we intend to ensure that many more Bahamians have access to Crown Land.
Essential to the development of the Family Islands is the grant of Crown Land to Bahamians for lodges and boutique properties; for agriculture; for second home development, and for other purposes.
Fellow Citizens and Residents:
Construction, our second largest sector is set for tremendous growth with private sector mega projects and other projects coming on stream, especially on New Providence and Grand Bahama. These include the redevelopment of ports on both islands.
Capital works by the private sector and government are essential in creating more economic opportunities for Bahamians, including many more jobs and more business for Bahamian vendors.
Infrastructure is not about steel and concrete and other material. Infrastructure is about improving the quality of life for all citizens and providing business opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs.
Toward this end we have launched an extensive roadworks program the length and breadth of The Bahamas and New Providence.
Between 2018 and this month we repaved a number of roads on New Providence. The list includes:
Beatrice Avenue – Prince Charles to CW Saunders Highway;
Bernard Rd.: From the intersection with Village Road to the Fox Hill Roundabout;
Black Sun Close;
Ferguson Street, Fox Hill;
Fifth Terrace – from Montrose Avenue to West Avenue;
Independence Highway - between East Street and Abundant Life Road;
Lewis Street between East St. and Market St.;
London Terrace off Shirley St; and
Madeira St. – from Mackey St. to Montrose Ave
We recently launched the West Bay Street Road Paving and Water System Installation Project.
This Project comprises the resurfacing of West Bay Street, between Blake Road and Old Fort Bay roundabout, as well as the installation of Water and Sewerage water infrastructure. The water works are complete and the resurfacing works are ongoing.
An older person who lives in Gambier told me that this is the first time in over forty years that this section of West Bay Street has been fully redeveloped.
For New Providence to be a modern, smart, urban centre, we need to continue to upgrade the island’s road network.
We are continuing to modernize the network in a strategic manner with the least amount of interruption possible for drivers and for businesses.
I am happy to announce this evening that the design phase for the widening of the Gladstone Road Corridor from two-lanes to four-lanes is about to commence.
The improvement to this corridor will increase the north-south road network capacity which will result in a reduction in delays along this congested corridor during heavy peak hour traffic.
The Government will be seeking proposals from local consultants for the design and supervision of:
-Tonique Williams-Darling Highway, between Bethel Avenue and John F Kennedy Drive.
-The 4-lane highway will continue between Bethel Avenue and JFK Drive; and
-Baillou Hill Road between Soldier Road and Cowpen Road.
We plan to improve the section of road between Soldier Road and Carmichael Road, by increasing the number of southbound lanes, and by widening the section of Baillou Hill Road to Cowpen Road, from two lanes to four lanes.
We will continue with increasing the north-south road network capacity by extending the existing Milo Butler Highway southwards, from Carmichael Road, to Cowpen Road.
The proposed project will comprise a new four-lane dual carriageway together with roundabout junctions, street lighting, drainage, sidewalks, traffic signs, road markings and landscaping.
We are developing a design for the improvement of Coconut Grove between Baillou Hill Road and East Street.
We are developing junction improvements, with the installation of new traffic signals and road widening at: Commonwealth Boulevard and Prince Charles Drive, and Arawak Cay and West Bay Street.
There will also be improvements at the junction at West Bay Street and Blake Road, with the construction of a new roundabout.
We will resurface and rehabilitate the existing Village Road from Village Lane to Shirley Street.
The removal of casuarina trees along West Bay Street between Baha Mar and Sandy Port was recently completed in preparation for the hurricane season.
We have installed a number of sidewalks in various communities in New Providence as part of our initiative to improve the safety of pedestrians
To read full report see attached Prime Minister Minnis - Third National Report for 2019
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