Fixing The Bahamas in 24-Hours
If I was Prime Minister of The Bahamas for a day, I would use my 24 hours to impose changes in all of the main issues affecting our country, including national planning, crime and criminal justice policy, monetary policy, education policy, enterprise policy, and economic development policy; specifically, I would:
- Assemble a general national council comprised of Bahamians and paid foreign experts to act as a ‘loya jirga’ of sorts to enhance greatly the thinking to address our most intractable problems (the PM’s recent pronouncement on crime was an embarrassment, frankly). Its first task will be to envision and compile a long-term plan for the country.
- Start a national sovereign fund which will be the nation’s ‘savings account’ and which will have three main contributors: tourism, gambling and foreign inward investment (a small, fixed proportion).
Crime & Criminal Justice Policy
- Outsource the management of the fight against crime, meaning that the job of thinking through innovative solutions would be given to those who have experience of having done so successfully in other troublesome jurisdictions.
- Raise the age of majority to 21 years so that the age of consent, voting and driving are the same.
- Implement a national service (18 months) for young men and women, with no exceptions.
- Make parents and/or guardians jointly liable for the commission of crimes by sub-21-year olds and initiate curfews in times of serious crimes, for example, after the Fox Hill shootings.
- Decriminalise marijuana and regulate tightly sales to adults (>21); thus allowing police officers to concentrate their scarce resources on much more serious crimes.
- Reintroduce capital punishment, particularly the death penalty and at least one other form of capital punishment, perhaps the ‘cat o’ nine tails’.
- Construct at least one new prison on a remote island, at least 50 miles from Nassau.
- Temporarily allow the sale of firearms in tightly regulated shops and raise the legal age of purchase to 25 years; this will also require the repeal of existing gun ownership laws.
Public Sector Management
- Drastically reduce the headcount in all Government corporations and institutions, starting with an immediate 10% reduction across the board, increasing eventually to 25%.
- Freeze Government and public sector salaries for a period of not less than 2 years and invite all public sector personnel over the age of 65 to retire (will include limiting the age of the serving Prime Minister).
- Radically revise the country’s monetary policy, starting with removal of all restrictions on foreign currency exchange and consider devaluing slightly the Bahamian dollar.
- Neuter the Central Bank of The Bahamas and bar the institution from interfering in the market, particularly, the housing sector and meddling with interest rates, which should be allowed to find their own level.
Economic Policy & Market Reform
- Institute wide-ranging labour market reforms, including but not limited to introduction of legislation to limit seriously the power of industrial unions and the banning of unions from operating in our educational establishments.
- Rebalance the national economy and redistribute non-core public services to nearby islands Eleuthera and Andros, eventually relocating a significant portion of non-core services to North Andros.
- Dedicate the major islands to some form of economic specialisation consistent with its resources and/or location and create free trade zones on each.
- Radically revise the country’s unique selling proposition (USP) and leverage this new message to attract FDI in the form of new firms.
- Negotiate the sale of all Bahamian Government/ public corporations including but not limited to Water & Sewerage; Bahamas Electricity Corporation and Bahamasair, recognizing that it is nigh impossible to sell the latter, but this could be effected through special inducements to the firm willing to assume the risk of the ‘project’.
- Negotiate the Hawksbill Creek Agreement and pay off the current leaseholders with a view to offering ‘Freeport’ to new potential partners, who will exercise a bit more ingenuity and resourcefulness in regenerating the nation’s second city.
- Re-open negotiations with the IMF and suspend all IMF-imposed financial regulations including repealing VAT legislation.
- Radically revise the country’s educational policy, starting with extension of school curricula, including longer school days, longer school terms, shorter and fewer holiday breaks, and more specialised schools.
- Re-introduce corporal punishment in all Government schools.
- Convert the College of The Bahamas to a four-year higher education institution and create an additional (southern) campus in Exuma.
- Teach ‘enterprise and entrepreneurship’ in all levels of education and start a new faculty dedicated to the teaching and research of the subject at the College of The Bahamas.
- Create the best environment in the world for starting a new business venture and running an existing business.
- Create a milieu for life sciences and make the country attractive for life sciences firms to conduct research and development, unhindered.
- Wage war against obesity and lifestyle-related illnesses such as type II diabetes.
- Grant amnesty to those illegal residents who can show proof of birth in The Bahamas and fast-track them to full (Passport) status; start repatriation of the rest in conjunction with their home countries.
- Limit the number of vehicles per household to two, except in cases where the household runs a business and can show need for additional vehicles.
- Remove all restrictions on Bahamians to gamble and legalise web shop gambling, part of the proceeds to be allocated to the national fund and the rest to ‘good causes’.
- Reduce growing dependence on the People’s Republic of China and specifically, renegotiate the terms of any financial agreements made.
- Publicly and proudly rekindle our relationship with the United States of America with a view to making it special and unassailable and proclaiming this far and wide to leave nobody in doubt as to where our national allegiances lie.
If I was Prime Minister of The Bahamas for a day (like the three men who have been so lucky), I would do all of the above in my first 24 hours and ‘let the chips fall where they may’! What would you do if you were Prime Minister for a day?
© S3Sgovernment, society