For Immediate Release
“Our time in government was transformative. The tremendous evidence or our work is manifested on every island and cay in this country. I am humbled and proud to lead this Party given our record. While the FNM has not always gotten it right, our heart has been in the right place”.
(Dr. Hubert A. Minnis)
On this the 22nd Anniversary of the tremendous and historic first victory of the Free National Movement in the General Elections held on the 19th August, 1992, we pause to reflect upon the transformative achievements of the three successive FNM governments elected by the Bahamian People.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister the Rt. Hon Hubert A. Ingraham the FNM firstly consolidated the dream of Democracy which motivated the visionary founders of our Party. We immediately moved to reinvigorate the Bahamian economy by renewing the economic vitality of Freeport and indeed the entire island of Grand Bahama by renewing the tax exemptions in the Hawkesbill Creek Agreement; and in re-vitalizing the National economy by attracting the massive re-development of Paradise Island through the attraction of the Sun International investment, and by the creation of targeted tax exemptions which led to the development of Bone Fish Lodges, and small Bahamian owned touristic resorts throughout the Family Islands. BAIC and the Bahamas Development Bank were reformed and reinvigorated to provide systematic and meaningful assistance to hundreds of start-up Bahamian-owned business.
The Arawak Cay Fish Fry was developed as a world renowned Cultural Centre by the FNM, after the PLP led debacle of massive Conch poisoning in 1991/2 led to the collapse of economic activity on Potters Cay. Hair Braiders were licensed, regularized, and established on the Prince George Wharf, after generations of being run off Bay Street by the PLP government.
The FNM rebuilt the World Famous Nassau Straw Market, which the PLP had allowed to stand in ruins for five years.
Under the FNM, the minds of Bahamians were freed from censorship and government control by the opening of the airwaves to private Bahamian-owned Radio and Television stations. The World of information was opened to every Bahamian household through the introduction of a Nationwide Cable Television system.
It was the FNM which opened up a world of academic opportunities to thousands upon thousands of Bahamians, firstly with the Educational Loan Programme, and more recently with the system of National Scholarship Grants of up to $10,000.00 per annum to thousands of deserving students studying at the College of The Bahamas and colleges and universities abroad.
The FNM modernized the systems of securing Annual Motor licensing, getting rid of the long and arduous lines which made life such a misery every March for many thousands of Bahamians every year. The FNM modernized, rationalized and removed political interference from the process of Shop and Business Licensing; and allowed for the obtaining of Business Licenses for Home-based businesses such as Hairdressing and Nail Technicians.
The FNM has now greatly improved traffic flows and has eliminated the clogged roads and intersections which made the daily commute to and from school and to and from work, such a national nightmare for so many thousands of Bahamians. Now, Bahamians travel on highways and smoothly cross and re-cross the Island of New Providence, from East to West and North to South.
In terms of social development the FNM removed all discrimination against children in the Laws governing Inheritance and the disposition of property on death, removing the old Rule of Primogeniture, which benefitted only the first born son, and providing for equal rights for all children. The FNM provided legal recognition and status for outside children by the enactment of the Status of Children Act.
In 2002 the FNM took a stand for Women’s Rights and for the equality of every Bahamian man, woman and child. We took a stand on the high Constitutional principle that all Bahamian men and women should stand in full equality in matters relating to the Nationality of their Children, whether they are born in or outside of The Bahamas, or in or out of wedlock; equal treatment of spouses of all Bahamians.
Today the PLP, which voted for and then opposed the FNM’s attempt to secure equal rights for Bahamian men, women and children, is seeking to achieve the FNM’s vision, which they opposed in 2002. There is nothing different in substance between the PLP’s effort today, and the FNM’s effort in 2002. Today the PLP have matured to the point where they can now embrace the FNM’s vision and initiative, and seek to attain the equal status of Bahamian men and women which they had so bitterly opposed in 2002.
On behalf of the Free National Movement I wish to thank those thousands of Bahamians who on three occasions entrusted the government of The Bahamas to our care. We believe that we have always faithfully discharged that trust and vow our enduring love and commitment for and to the continual advancement of every Bahamian.
As I said at the Celebrations of this Anniversary held at the Voice of Deliverance Church, “While the FNM has not always gotten it right, our heart has been in the right place”.