The Bahamas Today

The Bahamas Today, is changing literally right before our very eyes. This is so because presently there are a great mixture of sub- cultures within our main culture.

As we change from one stage of our development to the next, we are mindful that our success as a people will be determined based upon our readiness to embrace the challenges of tomorrow. To embrace the future successfully we need to plan for the future.

I was pleased the our Prime Minister, The Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie, has made it a priority of his to ensure that The Bahamas will have the long awaited National Development Plan. Prime Minister Christie appears to be on the road to becoming a Statesman. His legacy is secured.

I have been an advocate for the architecture and implementation of a National Development Plan from as far back as 1992. The late Prime Minister of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas Sir,Lynden Pindling, and I discussed this topic on several occasions. He was all for it and I must give him credit for his support for such an important plank in our development process as a people and country.

I have resorted to resume my Blog Writing to voice my singular opinion on matters of national concern and hopefully it may help in a small way to engage my Bahamian Brothers and Sisters in national debates and issues of the day.

Below is my submission supporting the reason why the development and implementation of a National Development Plan is vital for the continued development and growth of this beautiful country of ours, which we fondly call, The Bahamas.

The Bahamas
It’s Our Future
” Where are we headed as a Nation”

July 10th past we marked our 41st. year as an independent nation, we have come a long way in a very short time but we could have done more, much, much more.
During our 41 years of existence as an independent nation we have achieve much as a people economically, educationally, culturally , spiritually and yes on the international scene especially through sporting activities.
We have excelled in nearly every aspect of our existence except in one very noticeable area. We have yet to “Empower our People” especially our young people to become business owners and employers instead of merely being wage earners as employees.

During our 41 years, we have made a lot of mistakes and we will continue to make mistakes, however, the majority of the mistakes that we have made and will continue to make will continue to manifest itself in the absence of a National Development Plan.

A responsible mariner will never leave the safe confines of a port until he has devised a navigational plan that will take him safely to the port of his choice, why should we continue to run this country without a plan?
Before we begin to celebrate our 42 second birthday as a nation, I wish to ask this question; where are we headed as a nation?
This is a question of great importance, however, it cannot be answered affirmatively either by the government, the opposition nor the citizenry of The Bahamas.

The real reason why this question cannot be affirmatively answered is because as a nation and a people we do not “know” where we are “going” in the absence of National Development Plan to safely guide us. Right now it appears as though we are building an elite society of haves and haves not and this is not good.

In the absence of having a National Development Plan, as a nation, we would continue to flounder, (despite which party governs us) and stay in step with the old outdated nonsensical belief that true development of a country and a people comes purely from economic development via the building of gigantic tourist attractions such as hotels and other mega business concerns to provide attractions and services for an international client base.

We need income and Tourism and Financial Services, are our present mainstay as they provide the needed funds to sustain us, however, as Bahamians, we need balance!

What about the development of our people? what about their future? what about their worth as human beings? Must we continue to be merely servants in our own land? should we not become part-takers of the real wealth of our nation? Will the wealth of our nation be evenly distributed and not for the taking of our “new elite” group?

As a student of Economics, it is my belief that our future as a nation and as a people must be soundly built upon a strategically planned foundation so that every citizen of The Bahamas has an equal opportunity to develop themselves as human beings and to share in the economic wealth of our nation. To achieve this a National Development Plan is the only viable solution.

We must strive for and achieve balance in our approach to development, where we must include all and sundry and exclude no one in our development process. The advice and ideas should be gleaned from every quarter of our small country so that once such a plan come into being it would be representative of everyone not just merely of a chosen few as is the present method of operation of past and present governments.

Politics is beginning to take charge over everything that we do in this country and this is a terrible thing. We need to start embracing the good in our people and our leaders irrespective of our political persuasion. let us take a page out of Martin Luther King’s book, and begin to judge ourselves by the “Content of our Character” and not by our political affiliation.

To achieve balance and natural growth as a country we desperately need and require the implementation a National Development Plan, a plan that would been carefully crafted to achieve the maximum benefit for present and future generations to come.

I believe that the first important factor in our plan must be to account for the wealth of our nation(our resources). We cannot adequately plan to achieve something if we don’t know what we have and the value of what we have( resources).

Our land is rich in resources but we are just ignorant of the importance of the natural resources that we have. We have come to thing only of silver , gold and oil, yes we are now thinking about oil, are the only resources worth considering.

We have an ocean teeming with all species of fish that are indigenous to our region, we have vegetation that has medicinal values for the controlling and or curing of diseases, we have ideal climate, we have underwater scenery, second to none that has been created by nature especially for us. I can go on and on but don’t let us forget our most valuable resource, our people.

The Bahamas, has some of the world’s most brilliant minds, we are just not afforded the opportunities to show off our talents at home. Here, we still harbour the old colonial mindset that “foreign” is better and local is “inferior”.

Whenever, we have a major problem, an idea or a development in mind the first thing comes to the minds of those who lead us, is that, we need a “Consultant’, and what they in turn do? They hire a “foreign” consultant even without first seeking and then disqualifying a Bahamian. Even when a Bahamian Consultant is hired he or she is tied to an international business entity deep down it is merely a front. This is called “window dressing”.

Yes there are times when we will require “foreign” advice but we need to start developing our own advisors. We will forever be depending upon outside advice to assist with the development of our country. The development of The Bahamas should be the responsibility of Bahamians all and sundry.

We have Cuba to the south of us that we look upon as a competitor with regards to tourism, while we should look at Cuba as a trade partner.

We also make remarks that we would rue the day when Cuba opens up again and regain it’s status of being the tourist mecca in the region. We should have plans in place to capitalize on Cuba when it indeed opens up.
Yes we have wealth in many natural forms, but the jackpot question is, do we have the expertise to fully exploit these resources for our benefit as a nation and people?

The answer is an astounding no! Why? because our educational system has been flawed for far too many years. By flawed I mean that we expend millions of dollars for scholarships on an annual basis but what are we receiving in return? What are the bulk of the disciplines that our scholarship recipients are desirous towards? Law, Medicine and Accounting! This is truly a great imbalance when it comes to the development our country.

If we had a National Development Plan, we would have been in better position to ensure that we train Bahamians on a balanced scale and place emphasis on areas of priority through a quota system for the awarding of government scholarships.

Thereby forever cultivating bright Bahamian minds that ruefully necessary for the adequacy of gainful employment and for national leadership opportunities that is essential to our nation and people successfully into the unknown future.

The absence of a National Development Plan, contributes to the influx of foreign labour for specialized jobs such as oil exploration, aragonite dredging etc. They come in as consultants and are enumerated handsomely, fully trained Bahamians should be first in line for these jobs.

The absence of a National Development Plan, contributes to the social and economic decay in our society, where crime is increasing at an increasing rate.

With a National Development Plan, the inclusion of a mandatory national service program as espoused by the late Sir Lynden, (my mentor)might have become a reality and perhaps this would have contributed to less crime as well as more opportunities for Bahamians.

The absence of a National Development Plan, contributes to what I call a “Brain Drain”, young qualified Bahamians in disciplines other than those that I have already cited, are not coming home because their knowledge and experience are not required and if they find are successful in finding a niche employment opportunity, then the pay is substandard at best, we simply do not pay Bahamians for our true worth as employees.

Presently, it appears that the only things that are of urgent concern are those things that are of a political nature and the back and forth ranting’s, ravings and bashings in Parliament for “Brownie Points”, at the nation’s development expense.

We need to seriously take into account the future of this country of ours which is being held in trust by us for our future generations. We seem to be casting a blind eye to the true concerns of our country.
People are hurting badly because our leaders are not paying attention to the plight of our citizens, we are too busy paying attention to special interest instead of our people and national interest.

I believe that if we had a National Development Plan, our unemployment rate would not be as high as it is presently because there would have been a broader base for employment opportunities.
Are we focusing too much on Tourism and Banking? perhaps not but then again we are neglecting other vital areas like fishing, farming, entrepreneurial opportunities etc.

The Government, the Opposition and the Press has a vital role in the development of this country but here or late these ambassadors for the future success, development and safety of our nation and people seems to be at war with each other.

I wish to state categorically that we need a National Development Plan; we have talent in this country but we need to find and catalogue and utilize out who has what to offer for the good of all and sundry.

Let us create a national data base to catalogue our talent citizens no matter where they are presently residing in this world, they are Bahamians and they should be sought after first and foremost as architects of our National Development Plan, such a significant undertaking should not be left in the hands of foreign consultants.

We need to produce a new brand/ breed of leaders that are in themselves visionaries and not merely seekers of instant wealth and authors of lofty ideas and ideal only while debating in Parliament. But those who will be movers and shakers on the ground inside and outside of Parliament.

As a people we need and demand that we be led by leaders with brilliant mind and whom are confident and selfless and could be recalled if they do not live up to our expectations of them. With a National Development Plan all these matters should be addressed.

In conclusion, we as a people should refrain from bashing our leaders but strive to support them for they have done and are doing great work on our behalf.

To the present government, I encourage you to do what is right for The Bahamas without fear of being intimidated internally or externally or accused adversely or unjustly; just do your best in what you believe is the best course to take as you guide us to a brighter future.

Remember that it is the people that gave you the job to govern on our behalf, do the people’s job and don’t fall victim to the plethora of authorities on government that appear to sprang up out of their proverbial sleep like Rip Van Winkle overnight. If you fail to do the people’s job, then the people has a right to hire new employees for the ensuing term of governance.

To the opposition, come up with concrete plans that you have envisioned to be sound and necessary to propel this nation to greater heights of success. Stop squandering your limited currency on reactionary measures that is in itself counter productive and a well seasoned recipe for imminent failure.

Conduct your affairs as a responsible entity that is capable of leading this country forward if given the chance. You have a awesome responsibility as the Official Opposition, to ensure that the people’s interest always comes first and that the people’s monies lodged in our Consolidated Fund is accounted for by the government.

Ant to the “Fourth Estate”, you are the Vanguard of our nation, you are there to ensure that the government and the opposition does their respective jobs.

I say to you, please be fair in your reporting, it is a travesty and a mockery of your position in our society, as we build a bridge to the future, if you have or is perceived to have hidden agendas while reporting the state of our affairs as a nation and people.

The Hon. Perry G. Christie, Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham and the Father our The Nation, the late Sir Lynden O. Pindling, has contributed so much on our behalf, let us remember them always and be thankful that we had had these men to step up to the plate and batted for our every cause in the development of this great country of ours, even while neglecting their respective families.

They should be commended for their respective contributions to our nation building process. We have a beautiful country with beautiful people, let us do our endeavor to preserve this tranquil land for our present and future generations to enjoy and prosper in.

Bahamians it is time for us to unite for a common cause, to stop crime, for the economic and social empowerment of our people and a balanced development of this great country of ours.
GOD Bless The Bahamas!

Lionel F. Evans
A proud citizen of The Bahamas.