New Year’s Address 2013
The Honorable Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, MP
Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition January 3rd 2013
My fellow Bahamians, residents and visitors to our beautiful island home, good evening, and a Happy New Year. As we say good-bye to the old, and welcome the new, we do so with great hope, and anticipation, that the New Year would usher in new possibilities, and new opportunities.
As we look forward to the New Year, we would be remiss if we did not reflect on some of the events that made 2012 memorable for our island nation.
Bahamians and indeed people around the world clinched in their seats as the golden knights took Olympic gold in the Men’s 4×400 meter relay, proving to the world that hard work, and co-operation wins not only the race but the heart of a grateful nation. This victory was but one, of many sporting achievements from our young athletes. We surpassed many personal and national records in the Olympics, Carifta, and other meets throughout the world, etching our athletic prowess in the history of the sporting world once again.
2012 was a year for many glorious achievements in sports and youth development. A proud nation celebrated and opened its world class sporting arena, named after one of our greatest sporting legends, the now deceased Thomas A. Robinson. Even though, the nation recently mourned Tommy’s death, we were pleased that he realized our gratitude for his accomplishments – he received his flowers in life.
We must continue to develop our youth and sports in our country, for it is through this development that we become a nation, building a future for the youth. It is important for us to empower, not stifle our youth, for their potential will become our crowning glory.
In 2012, many projects and buildings started to take shape and form amongst the architectural landscape of our great nation. One such project was the ground breaking of the new wing at the Princess Margaret Hospital, which will in time, help to bridge the divide and usher in e-health which through technology will create One Bahamas, where key elements of healthcare services are delivered via technology throughout our archipelago.
This is the time when many make resolutions and set personal goals for the upcoming year. It is time for the Bahamas to set its own goals to ensure we have the flexibility to stay competitive in the major industries like tourism and banking. However, more importantly, the Bahamas must not only set goals, but set policies to make these goals attainable – so that we can seriously develop, encourage, and nurture budding sectors of our economy. For without this injection of vitality, funding and direction from the government, these goals would be but a dream, and we as a nation would never realize the great potential these sectors harbor for growth and sustainability.
Bahamians from all walks of life wish the best for our island home. I have listened to your cry, and share your views. It is an economic fact that when the middle class expands, the growth potential for the entire economy increases. I urge the government to do more to expand the middle class, not stagnate its earning potential. As more people move from employees to employers, there will be more spending in the economy; there will be more jobs available for those who seek employment.
When the Free National Movement government left office, we were on the path to a sustained economic recovery. Even as we went into the General Election of 2012, we knew that after May 7th, continuation of that recovery would require a wise combination of efforts to grow the economy and government income, while protecting consumer and investor confidences.
The recent downgrades by the international rating agency Moody’s, raises alarming concerns about the international community’s lack of confidence in this new government’s ability to steer that prudent path to sustainable growth.
While the government might be failing, I can assure you that we in the FNM understand that we are all in this together. You can depend on this responsible opposition to do all that it can to work with the government to help steer the country back on course.
With much of 2012 being a difficult financial year for many citizens of our country, we watched many developed nations erupt in civil outrage as their financial institutions, and economies suffered devastating results. Many of our citizens were laid off, lost the earning potential of the primary source, and suffered great personal hardship. It dampens the spirit of the entire nation when so many suffer, but this unfortunate event causes many among us to realize their potential, as the basic human spirit of survival and achievement grows stronger in times of adversity. It is during these times that Bahamians show what they are made of. For it is this same spirit that would set the course for this upcoming year – You must show the government that you need a light – and you will find the path. You should share this path with your neighbor, so that he learns the way, to find his inner light and steer a new path, one unique to himself. For this process is the true way for us as a nation to grow, expand and succeed – it is through the government’s investment in infrastructure, education, science and technology, that new paths will be developed, new minds will be expanded, and new possibilities will be realized.
Business and government must work together to improve the economy of this great nation.
I heard your cry and share your view; there must be bi-partisan efforts made to correct the challenges of the past. We must learn from our mistakes, and remove the party colors that blind our decisions, and adopt the national colors that unite our people as One Bahamas. As we celebrate our milestone 40th independence in 2013, let us be reminded of the significance of the colors of the flag of our Bahamas. The black represents the vigor and force of a united people, with a triangle that points towards the enterprise and determination of our Bahamian people, to develop and possess the rich resources of the sun, sand and sea depicted in the gold and aquamarine. This makes us unique, this is who we are Bahamas. We must go back to basics, and teach this to our children, so that they not only know, but appreciate from whenst we came, and when united, where we can go and what we can achieve.
Bahamians, it is time for us to look deep within ourselves, to decide if The Bahamas of today is what we want tomorrow.
I issue a challenge to you to make this New Year, one in which you make a difference. One such effort is with respect to crime. Crime is not a political issue, but a national one. Criminality has persisted at an alarming rate across our nation. While it is a government’s responsibility to protect its citizens, crime prevention first begins in the home, by instilling Christian values in our children. It is our collective responsibility to be our brother’s keeper, but more importantly, we must all strive to do what is neighborly, and encourage other members of our society to contribute to anti-crime measures.
This time of year is intended to celebrate the greatest gift to mankind, the birth of our Savior Jesus, but that focus has been taken away for many who have been affected in some way by criminal elements during the yuletide season and throughout 2012. While crime is reportedly down by six percent overall, according to crime statistics up to November 8 2012, crime against the person has risen over last year. This was led by an increase of 18 percent in armed robberies.
Our country has again bared witness to the loss of far too many young men, women and children. To the more than 100 families who are grieving at this time, my heart remains with you. We must provide relief from this state of affairs, and when it comes to this national issue there should be no political divide.
We are all hopeful that the suggested anti-crime measures brought forward by the government will reduce the crime rate. This administration has re-launched Urban Renewal which they suggest will strengthen the relationship between the police and our community. We trust that they are right. The government and the Opposition must combine our best efforts, if we are to realize that crime can be prevented, and not simply responded to. Faced with an unparalleled rate of violent crime the Free National Movement introduced harsher penalties and mandatory minimum sentencing in its package of anti-crime legislation in 2011, giving more strength to the judiciary and the police. The FNM government laid the foundation to curb the incidences of violent crime in our country.
You can be assured Bahamas that we will continue to do our part. We must also continue to focus on instilling positive values, education and affirming life skills. These are important long-term solutions to the crisis our country is faced with.
We must develop bi-partisan solutions to this epidemic, if it can be demonstrated that urban renewal is working, we will do our part to help the government build on it and develop other programs to compliment its efforts. However, the facts of the program must be brought to light so that we can together address its challenges and combat its shortcomings.
The previous FNM government was strong and clear with the laws, resources and objectives provided for and given to the armed forces that protect us all – we must build upon this structural framework, add to it the social elements encompassed in urban renewal and marry those with the spiritual and the numerous positive outreach programs provided by our churches in an effort to make a dent, not only in crime, but also in the criminality of the young mind.
My fellow Bahamians, for our country to move forward, we must learn from our past. For our country to steer upward we must channel outward, for our country to continue onward we must work together.
These are not mere words, this must resonate within the hearts and minds of all who want a better Bahamas.
Bahamas, we should all be preparing for a better future, a future for our young people; every parent’s dream is for their children to have a better life. That is my dream, a vision of a better Bahamas, this should likewise be your vision, and the goal of all young people should be for a better future.
Happy New Year Bahamas, let’s make this year better than the previous, let’s make this year a milestone not only for independence, but for our interdependence on each other, so that our great nation will move forward, upward, onward together.
Goodnight, may God bless each and every one of you and bless The Bahamas.