COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS
2008/2009 BUDGET REPORT
Presented to the Honourable House of Assembly
The Minister of Public Works and Transport
The Honourable Earl D. Deveaux, M.P.
Communicated in Parliament on Wednesday, 5 June 2008
I am honoured to be here on behalf of the people of Marathon. I would not be here, were it not for their support and I would not be able to carry out my duties without their continued prayers and endorsement
I do not take being a Member of Parliament lightly and the fact that I have been elected twice in two constituencies is a humbling experience.
I respond to the people for their confidence with the best of myself; hard work, dedication and a focused approach to the issues of the constituency.
While I am not always able to say yes to every request, I seek to address each concern in a tangible way.
Our program to assist each household with removal of derelict vehicles, old appliances and waste which accumulates in the neighborhood and yards is the first of an integrated approach we have adopted to achieving dynamic, liveable neighborhoods. It keeps us in touch
The Marathon Newsletter and our many outreach efforts are designed to ensure that we stay in touch.
I am grateful for the support of the team of dedicated officers and friends who work tirelessly to make the load lighter.
Marathon, like the rest of our Country bears witness to the results of our efforts to provide better governance
· Drainage Wells
· Paved Roads
· School projects
· Old Trail Paving
· Removal of Vehicles from Strachans Auto
The people of The Bahamas currently face numerous fiscal challenges amidst today’s tenuous financial climate. A sense of economic uncertainty pervades segments in our society as global markets steadily decline; the value of the $B dollar – pegged to the $US dollar – continues to weaken; growth in the tourism sector become increasingly competitive; and the cost of living – which includes food items, energy, and fuel – continues to escalate. In addition, environmental threats like Climate Change have the potential to undermine local resources.
In light of this economic backdrop, I renew our commitment to the standards of “good governance.”
An article by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) characterizes good governance by eight (8) guiding principles, namely:
1. Good governance is PARTICIPATORY; that is citizens are well informed.
2. Good governance is also CONSENSUS ORIENTED in that it seeks to mediate the various interests of civil society in such a manner that serves the best interest of the whole community. It requires a long term perspective in terms of what is needed for sustainable human development; and takes into consideration the historical, cultural and social context of the community.
3. EFFECTIVENESS and EFFICIENCY are also tenets of good governance in that processes and institutions produce results that meet society’s needs while maximizing available resources. This includes sustainable use of natural resources and environmental protection
4. Good governance demands ACCOUNTABILITY to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions.
5. TRANSPARENCY goes hand in hand with accountability; decisions must be made and enforced in an environment based on rules and regulations that are easily understood by the larger society.
6. Such RULES and REGULATIONS provide the fair and legal framework for good governance and should be enforced without partiality; thus minimizing corruption.
7. Also of importance, good governance is RESPONSIVE; it requires institutions and processes that serve its citizens in a reasonable time frame.
8. Finally, EQUITY and INCLUSIVENESS in governance will help ensure all members of society feel they have a stake in the development of their community, and have equal opportunity to improve or maintain their well being.
The Government of the Bahamas which I am privileged to serve is committed to these ideals.
As demonstrated in today’s budget report by the Rt Honourable Prime Minister, many of the actions and initiatives planned by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport for the 2008/2009 fiscal year are aimed at making the principles of good governance a reality.
In particular, there are several incentives, program initiatives, and legislative measures designed to empower Bahamians and provide citizens the opportunity to release their innate potential to improve their well being.
As a nation, our history of colonialism, slavery, and oligarchy predisposes us to a society whereby citizens are liable to overdependence on Government for their welfare, resulting in a dulling of individual initiative and reduced ambition.
In the 2008/2009 fiscal year, the Government of the Bahamas will promote opportunities for individual initiative; facilitate a development climate that is conducive to the expansion of existing businesses while providing opportunities for new entrepreneurs to enter the market; and provide the necessary legal policies, economic, and organizational tools needed to increase the productivity of enterprise.
In inspiring civil society to build and generate wealth through individual greatness, the Government of the Bahamas will also focus on building greater competence and efficiency in the public sector in order to facilitate and expedite the work that private citizens need to do.
This is a particularly important goal for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. As stewards of the built environment, we directly affect, influence and either positively or negatively impact economic opportunities, quality of life, health, land and water resources, and the sustainable development of our environment. The “good governance” principles of responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, equity and fairness, rules and regulations, transparency, participation, consensus, and competency are crucial to the work we do at every level every day.
There are numerous examples around the world where even the poorest of people are able to improve their quality of life, well being, and change their circumstances when offered incentives to do so. The great economist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus who founded the Grameen Bank for the Poor discovered through his work that charity is not the answer to poverty as it only helps to perpetuate it; rather it is the unleashing of the energy, creativity, and potential of each human being that is the greatest adversary to poverty.
Rising energy and food costs are affecting the most susceptible in our society. In response, the Government has provided direct incentives to individuals and businesses so that they can respond to these threats. At the same time, Government is enhancing the social safety net to ensure the most vulnerable are protected from external factors in these difficult times.
SUMMARY OF 2008/2009 BUDGET ALLOCATION
Members of this Honourable House would be aware that my Ministry has in its portfolio, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Physical Planning, the Department of Road Traffic, the Bridge Authority, the Montagu Beach and Foreshore and the Straw Market.
As well, my Ministry has responsibility for: Relations with the Water and Sewerage Corporation; Relations with BEC; Relations with the Petroleum Industry; Oil and Natural Gas; and Development of Renewable Energy Alternatives. The Hon. Phenton O. Neymour, Minister of State for Public Utilities in my Ministry has delegated responsibility for these areas.
A quick summary of the Budget allocations for 2008-09 show that:
MINISTRY OF PUBLIC WORKS & TRANSPORT
· My Ministry has a staff compliment of 279 persons;
· The PE and Allowances budget allocation is $4,442,355 an increase of $117,305 over last fiscal; and
· The total budget allocation, PE plus Recurrent is $8,397,080;
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
· The Department of Public Works has a staff compliment of 1,294 persons;
· The PE and Allowances budget allocation is $20,435,803 an increase of $1,687,907 over last fiscal; and
· The total budget allocation, PE plus Recurrent, is $21,045,778.
DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICAL PLANNING
The Department of Physical Planning has a staff compliment of 39 persons;
· The PE and Allowance budget allocation is $1,108,550 an increase of $465,000 over last fiscal; and
· The total budget allocation, PE plus Recurrent, is $1,262,150.
DEPARTMENT OF ROAD TRAFFIC
The Department of Road Traffic has a staff compliment of 341 persons;
· The PE and Allowances budget allocation is $4,645,074 an increase of $245,015 over last fiscal; and
· The total budget allocation, PE plus Recurrent, is $7,091,275.
I wish to note that there have been significant increases in the PE budgets of the Departments of Public Works, Physical Planning and Road Traffic. These increases reflect my Government’s commitment to staff these departments with skilled persons, in particular technical expertise, so that they can effectively and efficiently fulfill their respective mandates for improved infrastructure, building control and inspections, land use planning and zoning and improvement in traffic flows and traffic management throughout our islands.
We have already identified and secured approval to employ two engineers who will take up their posts in August this year. They will be posted in Abaco. Next month we will be placing ads to recruit a number of engineers; quantity, land and building surveyors; physical planners and physical planning inspectors, as well as trainee draughtsmen.
The process is well underway to restructure and strengthen the Departments of Public Works and Physical Planning thereby ensuring that they are more effective and efficient in carrying out the mandate of my Government and serving the public. This increased capacity and efficiency coupled with the new Bills that we will be bringing forward for a new Town Planning Act and a new Private Roads and Subdivisions Act will result in substantive improvements relative to land use and development in our country, maintenance of Government buildings, new construction and maintenance of existing infrastructure i.e. roads, airports, etc., traffic management and flows and customer service.
SUMMARY OF 2008/2009 CAPITAL BUDGET
I now turn to my Ministry’s Capital Budget.
The Capital Budget allocation for my Ministry is $87,203,685 an increase of $25,269,703 compared to the 2007-08 fiscal.
My Ministry is embarking on an ambitious capital agenda this fiscal year. There are two major capital projects that are being undertaken, namely the New Providence Road Improvement Project and the Harbour Dredging project.
The NPRIP project is in keeping with my Government’s commitment in its 2007 Manifesto to “complete the New Providence Road Project”.
The Harbour dredging project is necessary to accommodate the large cruise ships that will be entering RCCL and Norwegian Cruise Lines’ fleet next year. This project, scheduled for completion by the fall of 2009, will ensure that the port of Nassau remains a premier cruise destination for the major cruise lines.
Other priority major capital works for this fiscal include:
¨ Completion of the Magistrates’ Court Complex;
¨ Construction of the new terminal and completion of the new runway at Marsh Harbour, Abaco;
¨ Road construction in Eleuthera, Current Island and Harbour Island;
¨ Completion of the Craft Market on Prince George Wharf;
¨ Completion of the Registrar General’s offices at the old City Market site on Market Street; and
¨ Works for replacement of the causeway connecting Great and Little Abaco with a bridge.
I will come to the details and scope of these projects a little further down in my communication.
2007/2008 ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND INITIATIVES FOR 2008/2009
Street signs and various road marking supplies and materials were provided to Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma, Andros and Eleuthera. My Ministry is also assisting the Ministry of Tourism and Avaition with their signage programme for the Family Islands, as well as assisting the Nassau Tourism Development Board with appropriate signage for downtowm Nassau.
On New Providence, some 960 street name, 49 directional and 350 road safety signs were installed, as well as 702 thermoplastic road markings..
During the last fiscal, New Providence was divided into four road patching zones: north, south, east and west. Patching works in these zones was done by my Ministry’s in-house road patching crew as well as by contracted private companies. From 1 July 2007 through the end of March this year, the in-house crew completed road patching works valued at $743,932.55, while the private contractors completed works valued at $318,733.45.
The Government owned Bahamix continues to average about $700,000 per month in road paving work and asphalt sales. During the period July 2007 through March this year, Bahamix paved/repaved a series of roads in New Providence. The total length of roadway paved was 38.27 miles. I hope the effort on my ministry with respect to road paving is evident to New Providence motorists.
Contracts have recently been awarded to pave sections of East Street and Collins Avenue and it is proposed to pave that section of Bay Street in the Cable Beach area from Goodman’s Bay west to Ruby Avenue.
This fiscal we have maintained some 1000 “deep” wells along with 850 catch Pits throughout New Providence. We have acquired some GPS equipment which has significantly assisted us in locating the drainage wells, the updating of the current inventory and mapping of drainage prone areas. This information facilitates better planning for drainage works.
My Ministry has undertaken the refurbishment and in some cases replacement of sidewalks throughout New Providence. Many small contractors were hired and the public is able to benefit from having safer streets. This work continues.
Bay Street Intersection Improvements
To address the traffic situation on the northern coastal roads of New Providence – from Blake Road in the west to Fox Hill Road in the east – a Bahamian professional engineering and project management consultancy firm has been contracted to do traffic studies, civil infrastructure designs, bid document preparation pre and post contract services, and project management, to facilitate the execution of various junction upgrades along these roads.
Twenty-two intersections along the critical corridors of West Bay Street, Bay Street, Shirley Street, East Bay Street and the Eastern Road have been identified for improvement. The primary objective of the consultancy is to ensure that the intersection upgrades are integrated into the existing road network, in accordance with the design philosophies of the Government of The Bahamas. The proposed intersection upgrades, therefore will not increase travel friction, but facilitate the movement of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, as rapidly and as safely as possible, with minimal environmental impacts.
I will now speak to the New Providence Road Improvement Project and the Nassau Harbour Dredging projects.
New Providence Road Improvement Project
The Inter-American Development Bank recently approved increased funding of $100 million to the Government’s loan to complete the New Providence Road Improvement Programme (NPRIP). The NPRIP calls for better regulation of traffic movements, rationalization of ground transportation routes, and enforcement of traffic laws.
Currently my Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Attorney General is in final preparations to sign a contract with Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles to complete the roads and water mains replacement.
A provisional sum of US$6,700,000.00 is also being provided in the contract for the possible extension of the Sir Milo Butler Highway from Carmichael Road to Cowpen Road.
Mott MacDonald is being retained as project managers and Halcrow will be retained to undertake road design services. Land acquisition issues will be disposed of as early as possible this fiscal.
Nassau Harbour Dredging
As I previously stated, a major capital project being undertaken this fiscal is the dredging of the Nassau Harbour. This dredging is necessary to accommodate the arrival of new larger cruise passenger ships that the cruise lines wish to have call at the port of Nassau in the fall of 2009. These works will also ensure that The Bahamas maintains its competitiveness as a cruise destination port.
The Joint Venture Consultancy of George Cox & Associates of the Bahamas and SHAL Consultants of Canada is currently contracted to do the hydrographic survey, geotechnical studies of material to be dredged, determine the quantity of material to be dredged by locations, identification of disposal sites for the the dredged material and other preliminary works that have to be done leading up to the tender for the dredging works.
Uses being considered include: extending Arawak Cay Westward or creating a second artificial island connected to mainland to accommodate a relocated container port, extending Potters Cay to the west, and extending Woodes Rodgers Walk east to Armstrong Street to creating a promenade bounded by restaurants, specialty stores, and entertainment establishments.
It is anticipated that the dredging of the Harbour would begin by the end of this year and completed by September of next year.
In addition to the Harbour dredging, we will also be installing mooring dolphins and new bollards on the piers and making some structural refurbishments to Prince George Wharf.
Other Civil Projects
Other civil projects that will be done this fiscal include:
We will undertake road construction works in South, Central and North Eleuthera, Current Island and Harbour Island. Bids have been received from potential contractors for these works, the bids have been evaluated and currently consideration is being given to the award of contracts to do the roadworks.
Tropical Storm Noel Repairs
Work will be undertaken to do the necessary repairs required as a result of the damages caused by Tropical storm Noel to the islands of Long Island, Cat Island and Exuma.
Marsh Harbour Airport
We will complete the new runway at the Marsh Harbour airport.
Works will be started for the replacement of the causeway connecting Great and Little Abaco with a bridge. This replacement of the causeway will open up the creek that separates Little Abaco from Great Abaco, which will reverse the environmental damage done by construction of the causeway and reestablish this important marine resource nursery and fish migration route.
Bridges, Docks and Seawalls
· Dock repairs will be undertaken on the salt pond and Simms Docks in Long Island
· Repairs will be made to the Ferry Bridge in Exuma
· Repairs will be undertaken to the dock at Three Island, North Eleuthera
· The seawall at Lowe Sound Andros will be completed
· Work will begin on the new dock at Millers, Long Island
BUILDINGS AND EQUIPMENT
Building Maintenance and Equipment Maintenance
There is ongoing demand for preventative maintenance and upkeep of Government buildings and equipment. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has expended more than $1.5million on various projects during the 2007-08.
Building Construction and Repair
There are numerous building construction and repair projects slated for New Providence in the 2008/2009 fiscal which will provide employment opportunities for Bahamians and stimulate the construction sector:
¨ Completion of the Magistrates Court Complex
¨ Begin work on the Supreme Court / Court of Appeal
¨ Complete the Registrars General Building / Business License Unit / Valuation Unit at the old City Market site on Market Street
¨ Complete the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation’s office building, Bolam House
¨ Continue with the ongoing renovations and restoration works at Government House
¨ Complete the Government Printing Building renovations and air conditioning works
¨ Eugene Dupuch Law School
¨ Complete the T.G. Glover Primary School for a school opening in January 2009
¨ Complete the Faith Avenue Junior High School for the September 2008 school opening
¨ Complete the new classroom block at C.H. Reeves
¨ Complete the Authentic Craft Market on Prince George Wharf
¨ Construct a new Government Office Complex
Summer 2007 School Repairs
At the start of last fiscal, my Government authorized the Ministry of Finance to provide my Ministry contingency funding in the amount of $6,704,500.00 for the construction of new classroom blocks, Administration Buildings and toilet blocks. These works took place at S. C. McPherson Junior High here in New Providence, the St. Georges High School in Grand Bahama, the L. N. Coakley High School and Roker’s Point Primary School in Exuma, and the Arthur’s Town High School in Cat Island.
In addition, school summer repair works valued at over $17 million were undertaken throughout the Bahamas resulting in a smooth opening of our Public Schools in September 2007.
Family Island Projects
In Grand Bahama Island and the Family Islands the following capital works will be done this fiscal:
· Construction of a new terminal at the Marsh Harbour and begin works for the construction of new terminal at the Stella Maris, Deadman’s Cay Airports in Long Island and a terminal at the New Bight Airport in Cat Island
· Construct Government office complexes in Grand Bahama and Abaco
· A Gymnasium in Eleuthera and in Abaco
My Ministry held a Contractors Seminar in New Providence on 10 November, 2007 to discuss Government Bidding and Tender procedures, the proposed Contractors Bill, and Construction Finance and Insurance. The Contractors Bill is been reviewed by the stakeholders. Once comments are reviewed the draft will be presented for further consideration by the government.
The Buildings Control Division’s statistical reports indicate that over the first half of the 2007/08 year building application approvals for New Providence were down by 82 permits over the preceding ½ year 2006/07 to a value of $128.8 million dollars representing a 7.6% decline. However building permit fees collected improved by 8.9% over the same period of the previous year.
Building Construction Starts for the first ¾ of the fiscal year, July 2007 to March 2008 also showed a decline of 4.8% with a lower value over the same period of the previous year amounting to just less than 1% with a value of $147,090,143.00.
The number of Building Completions over the same ¾ fiscal year period. This also showed a 4.8% decline. However its total value amounted to $234,606,902.00 indicating a 32% increase over the previous year period.
Preliminary statistical information from many of the Family Islands also forecasts a decline in building approvals.
My Ministry is still facing the challenges to provide improved services to the general public. The implementation of the on-line computer tracking system has been encouraging however many architects, draftsmen and applicants are not fully utilizing the on-line tracking system to their advantage. I am advised that many of our stake holders still prefer to come into the Buildings Control Office of the Ministry of Works to inquire on the progress of their building permit applications.
My ministry has joined forces with other government departments and agencies to participate in the pilot program announced by the Rt Honourable Prime Minister to achieve quantifiable improvements in customer satisfaction. The first phase of this programme has already begun with the implementation of the customer surveys in the Buildings Control Division.
In order to complement improved customer response, my ministry will seek to employ additional staff in key technical areas left vacant due to staff transfers to achieve more effective and efficient service to the general public.
DOWNTOWN NASSAU REVITILIZATION & REDEVELOPMENT
I will now focus on downtown Nassau revitalization
As stated by the Prime Minister the Right Hon. Hubert Ingraham in his 2008/2009 budget communication on May 28, 2008, the City of Nassau which is undoubtedly the economic, political, cultural, and historic centre of our nation, is currently in serious decline having fallen into a state of disrepair and urban blight. The revitalization of the City of Nassau is a high priority of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and there are several projects planned which are designed to breathe life back into the heart of the city.
The City of Nassau Revitalization Act
The Act will focus on capital investment in the city of Nassau over the next five years, provides for the exemption of real property tax, customs duty and exercise tax in respect to supplies imported for the purpose of a capital investment in the City of Nassau. Such investments will include the construction of buildings for residential or commercial use; and also include the renovation, repair or upgrade of residential and commercial buildings. The Act will serve as a catalyst for renewed investment in the City of Nassau.
Arawak Cay Down Home Fish Fry
My Government is committed to developing and upgrading the Down Home Fish Fry to the standards which would be required to make it a first class cultural venue and attraction for Bahamians, residents and visitors.
In this regard the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine resources in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and my Ministry will undertake the necessary capital works and those other priority matters related to utilities and health issues that need to be address.
Phase I of improvements to the Western Esplanade, which involves restoration of the beach, parking, and landscaping are currently being completed. This project is being done by a partnership between Rotary International and Kerzner International. It is being funded by private enterprise, and is proceeding in accordance with plans prepared by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
Two additional phases will complete the project. These phases will continue with physical improvements to the west down to the Down Home Fish Fry.
Improvements are slated for the Straw Market tent site to provide a cleaner and more attractive environment in keeping with the redevelopment of the City of Nassau. The existing tent will be replaced with one that is better ventilated and more translucent for better lighting. Proposals and quotes have been received for the tent replacement and these are currently under review by technical officers in the Departments of Public Works and Physical Planning.
Authentic Bahamian Craft Market
The Old Customs Building at Prince George Dock is being reconfigured into a Bahamian Craft market to address the congestion that currently exists at the Festival Place Welcome Centre, and to provide a venue for Bahamians interested in selling indigenous Bahamian goods and craft. The Market will showcase various Bahamian authentic craft and artifacts and serve as an informational area for visitors.
Technical Officers in my Ministry have prepared drawings and scopes of works for the conversion of this building into an Authentic Bahamian Craft Market. The design will create an “open” environment with wide aisles to accommodate the pedestrian traffic.
This Market will be completed this fiscal and will accommodate some three to four hundred.
Downtown Urban Park
My Ministry has put together a team of urban planners and architects from my Ministry to the design and develop an urban park at the Old Straw Market site in the City of Nassau. This park will provide much needed open greenspace open space in the heart of the City of Nassau, providing a venue for casual entertainment.
The park, which will be completed this fiscal, will include, benches, planters, gardens, and indigenous shade trees.
Kerzner International has produced detailed drawings and plans for the restoration of the Montagu Beach area, including the addition of groins for beach re-nourishment and accommodation for fish vendors and public ramps. Some dredging works are also called for. I proposed to initiate this project in the second half of this fiscal year.
Downtown Revitalization Steering Committee
My Ministry, in collaboration with the Nassau Tourism Development Board, recently commissioned a joint public/private task force to drive the revitalization and sustainable redevelopment of downtown and the City of Nassau. The Task Force will advise and support matters related to the immediate, interim and long-term steps which must be undertaken to improve, stimulate, revitalize and transform the city of Nassau and surrounding areas; and to facilitate the implementation of key transformational activities.
Ads have been place in the local newspapers to recruit a Managing Director and Executive Administrator for the Task Force. The responsibilities of the Managing Director will manage the day to day activities and ensure the successful fulfillment of the Task Force’s mandate which includes production of a master plan for the Nassau waterfront, drawing on resources such as the EDAW Study, Historic Nassau Study and Living Tradition; and establishment of an authority or management mechanism such as a Business Improvement District to coordinate economic development, facilitate public and private development and liaise with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in the synchronization of development.
There has been good response to the ads and the applications for the positions advertised are currently being reviewed and evaluated.
The initiatives that I have highlighted toward the revitalization and redevelopment of downtown and the City of Nassau together with the:
· Incentives provided for in the City of Nassau Revitalization Act
· Nassau Harbour dredging project that will provide for larger cruise ships to call on the port of Nassau;
· Creation a water front boardwalk from the Prince George Wharf east to Armstrong Street from the dredged material;
· The prohibiting the movement of containers and other commercial vehicles within the City of Nassau during normal working hours; and
· Removal of the container freight terminal from the downtown area
Will fast track the transformation of the City of Nassau and downtown area into a dynamic and vibrant residential, cultural and shopping center for resident of New Providence and a tourism Mecca for our cruise and over night visitors.
I now turn to development incentives for the Family Islands.
FAMILY ISLAND DEVELOPMENT
Sustainable development requires that all parts of The Bahamas receive focused attention. Balanced growth and development on the Family Islands has the potential to transform the quality of life for Bahamians by providing improved opportunities for diversification of our economic base. Incentives are provided through The Family Islands Development Encouragement Act to stimulate and encourage investment on targeted islands.
The Family Island Development Encouragement Act will provide for concessions for selected family Islands:
¨ Duty free and Excise Tax free import of all construction material to be used for the construction of a new building; or for the rehabilitation, remodeling or extension of a new or existing building; and
¨ Duty free and Excise Tax free import of any machinery used for the clearing of land for farming or construction carried out in any of the Family Islands specified.
Islands slated to benefit from the Act include:
¨ Sweetings Cay and Water Cay (Grand Bahama);
¨ Grand Cay and Moores Island (Abaco);
¨ Current Island (Eleuthera);
¨ Cat Island
¨ San Salvador
¨ Rum Cay
¨ Long Island
¨ Crooked Island
¨ Long Cay
¨ Ragged Island and Cays
The concessions available under this Act will stimulate capital investment and the diversification and expansion of the economic base on the selected islands.
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
There is sustained foreign direct investment throughout the islands of The Bahamas.
In keeping with my Government’s policy not to approve any foreign direct investment proposal that may significantly impact Bahamian communities without prior consultation, I, on the invitation of the Prime Minister, hosted a series of town meetings during the last fiscal period to introduce, discuss and get feedback from the public on a number of Foreign Direct Investment Projects:
i. Albany, New South Ocean and Baha Mar projects on New Providence
ii. French Leave Resort
iii. URGO Hotels in Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera
iv. Port St. George/ Caribbean Heights Development in Long Island
All the meetings were well attended and persons in attendance had an opportunity to ask questions and make comments on the respective development projects.
On Thursday, 5 June 2008 we will host a Town Meeting in Cat Islands to discuss and get feedback from the residents of that Island on a proposed Cat Island Golf and Beach Resort.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP
Protection of our environment and mitigation for any environmental impact that investment projects have are important planks of my Government’s investment policy. With this in mind my Ministry has entered into a learning partnership agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Department of Urban Studies and Planning which will call for its team of professional staff, practitioners and students to assist in the development of comprehensive land use and development frameworks for The Bahamas, beginning with the island of Abaco.
As part of the learning partnership, MIT will also assist in the creation of a pipeline of Bahamian planning professionals; the enhancement of planning literacy throughout The Bahamas; and the introduction of innovative planning technologies and models. MIT will also contribute its expertise to specific areas such as economic development, revitalization of the City of Nassau, and review of planning legislation.
On Tuesday, May 27, 2008, I led a Bahamian delegation and hosted the Caribbean Challenge at the Biodiversity Conference in Bonn, Germany. The Caribbean Challenge is an initiative by governments in the region to secure funding for the protection of a minimum of 10 percent of the Caribbean terrestrial and marine habitat by 2010 and 2012 respectively.
The Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), which is recognized by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as a partnership to advance the implementation of the CBD 2010 biodiversity target, assists island states in addressing the challenge in reducing the rate of biodiversity loss, and the programmes of work on island biodiversity and protected areas.
The Caribbean Challenge was officially launched at the meeting by The Bahamas and endorsed by the Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica. This Challenge will result in:
· Doubling National Parks, ten fold increase in funding for conservation, $2 million over the next four years for the establishment of The Bahamas National Areas Trust Fund (Bahamas)
· Creation of a $10 million National Trust Fund, of which $5 million generated by domestic resources (Dominican Republic)
· 10% of marine area effectively managed by 2012; expansion of marine protected areas system to include 20% of marine habitats by 2020 (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
· 20% of marine terrestrial areas by 2015 (Jamaica)
The Bahamas has committed to go beyond 10% and conserve up to 20% of its marine environment under The National System of Protected Areas. The event was a remarkable success. The Nature Conservancy committed to raising $20 million dollars to support the challenge. Additional support in the form of grants, contributions and technical services were committed by IUCN, Germany, KFW Bank, Italy and T he Global Environment Facility.
BIG POND CENTRAL PARK
As part of the original NPRIP loan agreement with the IDB and in an effort to offset environmental impacts of the NPRIP project, a Master Plan was developed in 2001 by ICF consultants for the development of green and open space at the Big Pond site adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre.
Currently, with the NPRIP negotiations underway to implement the road project, and in tandem with the development of the National Stadium and creation of a Master Plan for the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport has entered into negotiations with ICF consultants to revise and update the 2001 Big Pond development Master Plan. The updated plan will take into account environmental impacts, and will seek to incorporate park development into the proposed National Stadium and Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre Master Plan.
The Big Pond Master plan will aim to create a “Central Park” atmosphere in the midst of New Providence by providing much needed urban greenspace / open space including gazebos, walking-biking-nature trails, and bird watching.
Park development will also provide recreation for adjacent businesses, communities, schools, colleges and universities encompassing Oakes Field, Blue Hill, Tucker Road, and Yellow Elder.
In addition, park development will provide employment opportunities for persons skilled in the areas of sculpture, carpentry, paving, landscape design, and architecture among other trades. There would also be opportunities for unskilled labourers, in particular students. The potential also exists for entrepreneurs to develop recreational based businesses once the park has been completed this fiscal.
Climate change will impact The Bahamas. In fact Tropical Storm Noel was a telling illustration of our vulnerability, with flooding in Acklins, Exuma, Long Island and Cat Island and the loss of a life.
I headed a delegation to and attended the Ministerial Session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 13th Conference of the Parties hosted by the Government of Indonesia in Bali Indonesia from 3-14 December, 2007.
The Conference brought together more than 10,000 participants, including representatives of over 180 countries together with observers from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations and the media.
The conference culminated in the adoption of the Bali Roadmap/ Action Plan, which consists of a number of forward-looking decisions for negotiating a new treaty to combat global warming, which includes measures for preserving tropical rainforests and helping poor countries adapt to a green economy.
My Government is taking the lead in addressing the risk of Climate Change to the Islands of The Bahamas and in the adoption of policies to address and mitigate the effect of Climate Change.
Road Traffic Department
During last fiscal, the Road Traffic Department added several major initiatives to its inventory of priority program/projects. They launched the Bahamas Highway Code Manual, provided for the regulation of Heavy Traffic on Bay Street during Peak Hours and developed a manual of procedures for the outsourcing vehicle inspections.
The Road Traffic Department’s focus is two fold as its mandate is to collect revenue in a timely manner; and advise and assist the Ministry of Public Works & Transport in technical areas regarding traffic management and control.
Ongoing programs include improved and enhanced revenue collection in New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands. The Department has adopted a focused approach to enhance government’s revenue collection.
100 DAY CHALLENGE
In the effort to promote public transportation on New Providence, the Ministry of Public Works & Transport, the Road Traffic Department and the various public transportation providers will initiate a 100-day challenge whereby:
¨ The PTAB and UTC select their best drivers, approximately 50 in total, who will participate in training session on what is expected from them in the 100 day challenge, i.e. be courteous, clean, reliable. These buses will be clearly marked.
¨ Pilot routes have been selected where the Ministry of Public Works & Transport will post the adequate number of “Bus Stop” signs along the route including some shelters and possible lay-bys for the buses
¨ The Road Traffic Department will post the routes and schedules in the news paper along with the initiative to sensitize the public about the program
¨ The Road Traffic Department and the Traffic Police will work together to provide an increased presence on the road.
¨ A survey will be designed to question persons on the various routes at the start and end of the 100 day challenge to compare if their experience has changed over the time frame.
The Bridge Authority
During this budget, the Board of Directors of the Bridge Authority anticipates working in conjunction with the Ministry Works to effect repairs to the bridges (i.e. mainly the eastern bridge). Additionally, there is a need for more office space and the modification of the current building at the northern foot of the western bridge.
In the 2007-2008 budget, Members of Parliament were allotted $100,000 for constituency allowance. At the midyear budget, slightly more than 50% of the MPs had met the prescribed conditions for accessing funding and were able to implement projects in their constituencies to the great benefit of constituents. Their example should be the model for the future.
This was a learning experience for members and clearly challenges will have to be overcome in the new budget year in order for MP’s to provide the kind of assistance to their constituencies as was anticipated.
We can achieve the kind of society we desire, if we have a clear consensus on the type of society we seek. Bahamians are currently facing issues of rising food prices, energy cost and gripped with the fear of crime. Everywhere people demand action; many see hanging as the ultimate deterrent to crime
I wish to share with members a synopsis of an article published in the Wall Street Journal and extracted from the Journal of Science. My summary is intend to reinforce the belief we hold that if you provide good example, clear choices and instill trust in people, you can get predictable results.