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Pm: I Will Meet Protest Leaders

Prime Minister Perry Christie.

Prime Minister Perry Christie.

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

AMIDST a defence of his government’s performance this term, Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday told organisers of today’s “We March Bahamas” protest that he was “painfully aware” that the country has suffered tremendous setbacks.

In advance of what has been foreshadowed to be a major protest against governance, Mr Christie released a five-page response to the protest organisers that itemised reform initiatives and made the case that many of those setbacks were “beyond” his administration’s control.

Organisers of today’s demonstration issued a list of 23 non-partisan demands to the Prime Minister’s office - and those of several of his Cabinet ministers - on Tuesday.

Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald also released a statement yesterday defending his effectiveness in his post in the face of calls for Freedom of Information legislation and an overhaul of the education system.

March organisers have called for a public response to their letter on the steps of the House of Assembly later today, as the group moves in to occupy Rawson Square.

In his letter, Mr Christie told the group that his government remains “resolute” in its commitment to build and a peaceful, economically progressive and politically enlightened society, and invited organisers to a meeting at his office at a “mutually convenient time”.

Mr Christie stressed that his government has always worked and continues to work towards it core goal of improving the quality of life of all its citizens.

Promoted as a silent protest, “We March” will start at Arawak Cay at 1pm today.

The protest has attracted significant support from activists and civic organisations, as well as the support of the country’s two umbrella unions, the Obie Ferguson-led Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the John Pinder-led National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB). Opposition Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday encouraged all Bahamians to participate in the “people’s march”.

In a post on FaceBook, Dr Minnis wrote: “I encourage all Bahamians to participate in the “Black Friday” March beginning at Arawak Cay at 1pm Friday November 25th. Please wear black. This is the people’s march. No political paraphernalia.”

Lead organiser Ranard Henfield yesterday projected that the number of participants could reach into the thousands.

In what could be seen as an attempt to dampen those efforts, Mr Christie last night detailed several current efforts being promoted or prioritised by his administration to advance the status of life for Bahamians.

Referring to the National Plan document, Mr Christie indicated that his administration was operating with the view to address “many, if not all, of the issues” presented by the group in its letter.

Mr Christie wrote: “This Plan was based on discussions with persons from all across The Bahamas and the political spectrum. It tackles the critical issues facing our country and develops a true agenda for sustainable progress in our country.”

He continued: “I am pleased to invite you and representative of your group to attend a presentation of the preliminary first draft of the Plan. I invite your input into this document so that together we can continue to make this a truly collaborative effort transcending partisan and other divisive differences.

“I believe that we can and must continue to develop our philosophy of governance, emphasising increased accountability and transparency. At the same time, we must strengthen the institutional framework of governance, emphasising the deeper involvement of our people in a more participatory democracy, one that allows our people greater say in the formation of major policies that will guide our economic development and social transformation.”

Mr Christie said his government is steadfast on governance reform through the National Development Plan, as it looks to address public service reforms; a revision of General Orders to help ensure greater efficiency and accountability in the delivery of public service; the implementation of a Freedom of Information Act and an Open Government Strategy to ensure greater transparency throughout the government; conflict of interest rules to govern politicians and public officials; the need for enhanced financial management and planning so as to ensure prudent, efficient and honest use of public funds at all levels of government and the need to create a regime for Campaign Finance Reform.

All are concepts that the Christie administration have mentioned since coming to office but have been slow to introduce or advance.

Mr Christie claimed that he is “deeply conscious” of the need to deepen the country democracy. He said his government is actively considering the improvement in local government as a tool for meaningful development throughout the Family Islands.

He also made mention of better mechanisms to ensure the more efficient management of New Providence as well, with new ways for civil society to be more involved.

Addressing the labour force, Mr Christie prefaced his comments by noting the “series of brutal external economic blows and devastation from natural hurricane disasters in recent times” and its affects on the tourism and financial sectors.

The Centreville MP said it has become more clear that the Bahamas must compete on its business environment and the efficiency and productivity of its labour force.

His comments come as his administration remains locked in several labour disputes, with issues becoming so severe that labour unions committed themselves in recent weeks to participate in today’s march.

Mr Ferguson said last week it was “stupid” for voters to support a government that was working against their interest, referring to the current government’s inaction or lack of support in recent disputes.

He indicated that as the country makes needed adjustments, it must be careful to preserve its strong labour traditions.

However, Mr Christie stated: “My party throughout its history has been inextricably linked with the labour movement. I cherish this long vibrant fraternal tradition. It is one that I am personally determined not to betray.

“Though we have our differences from time to time, it would be good to remind ourselves that virtually every major legislative and policy advance in relation to trade unionism and workers’ rights over the years was championed by a Progressive Liberal Party administration, bearing in mind that our contraction and labour costs are high than elsewhere in the region.”

In his lengthy letter the Prime Minister also addressed his administration’s effort to limit government spending, reduce government debt and arrest the scourge of violent crime throughout the country.

Mr Christie indicated that the country’s tax models do not yield enough in taxes to offset the cost of running the country.

He said the introduction of major platforms and his administration’s commitment to “budget tightening” mechanisms, the government is seeing “some significant success.”

With regards to crime he added: “Crime remains a very major concern of Bahamians. No one is immune from the effects of crime. My government is determined to effect a major reduction in crime by dealing with the social troubles of our nation - from drug abuse to broken homes and high youth unemployment.”

“Our people must feel safe again - on the streets and in their homes. This is the only way to improve the quality of life on a sustainable basis. As a government we are resolute in our commitment to achieve this goal.”

Addressing the economy, Mr Christie told organisers that he shares their concerns on the challenges facing the county, particularly the impact of unemployment of the lives of many Bahamian families - calling this issue as “source of great distress”.

To that end he added: “Although opportunities for the development of non-traditional sectors to drive growth and create entrepreneurial and ownership and ownership opportunity are opening up, I really agree that the process of opening a business needs simplification. My government is actively working to remediate this problem. In so doing, we must also improve access to capital for Bahamian entrepreneurs to ensure the development of an ownership economy.”

He added: “We must also empower Bahamians by engendering a culture of savings and investment from an early age so that our collective capital can be used to create an economy that is for Bahamians and owned by Bahamians.”

Mr Christie also said that his government intends to move “earnest towards” the creation of an efficient land registry to reduce land disputes and to clarify who own lands in The Bahamas.

Lastly, the Prime Minister made mention of his administration anti-poverty policies and programmes, initiatives geared toward increasing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities as a source of life sustenance; increasing the availability of safe and affordable housing and the revitalisation of our traditional communities; improving access to affordable and nutritious food with our communities for healthier lives; and strengthening the resources and capabilities of our social services institution to better assist Bahamians in dealing with poverty generally and the sudden financial shocks and dislocations such as were recently experienced with Hurricane Matthew.

In closing, the Prime Minister said he hopes his meeting with organisers will engender “serious and mutually respectful dialogue aimed at bring them closer to a common aim and purpose - improving the quality of life of Bahamians”.

Comments

alfalfa 3 years, 2 months ago

Mouth can say anything, and you are good at it. I suggest you start off by enforcing a few laws that already are in existence on all MPs who do not comply. Paying of taxes, prosecution for non-payment of same as well as outstanding utility bills, enforcement of the public disclosure laws, and implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, are good starting points, then maybe we can believe some of this crap that you keep articulating.

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't know if Dr Myles was a prophet or not, I think sometimes people say things that are obvious and when it comes true as it clearly would have the word "prophet" gets bandied about. But anyway

"“I speak prophetically; you watch my word, in the next 12 months from the day of July 10, 2014 there shall be magnificent changes that no one can control. There shall emerge in the next 12 months leaders you never saw before. There shall be young men and women emerging whose ideas will blow your mind. And they cannot wear the old armor anymore. They shall walk with a new mentality. They will have a spirit upon them. It will be a spirit of God. And they will take us into the next Bahamas. I speak to you with my whole heart that God is saying the time for a new leadership has been birthed. It has arrived.”"

Could it be? Our Carmicael started in October 2015. A few months over 12 months, but the fire was probably burning before they went public.

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 2 months ago

Do not let the Devil fool you about any meeting. BEFORE you meet with anyone, LAY OUT THE TERMS FOR THE MEETING TO EVEN TAKE PLACE, the first of which is "Fire Alfred Grey". If he fires Alfred Grey (and any other pre-condition) he shows he's meeting in good faith. Do not do what Minnis did and run down to the PM's office only to be neutralized. Afterwards the rhetoric was "we don't know what Minnis complaining about, we agreed to XYZ". Don't be Dr Minnis.

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

Maybe the organizers of the March should offer free phones for people to come out to march and Perry Christie should offer free phones for them to stay home...just saying (comments based on the number of persons who got out their beds at 4 a.m.,in Nassau and Freeport, to catch BTC's phone give-a-way..even the police couldn't restrain them in Nassau. Freeport was more well behaved.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 2 months ago

Under a normal Westminster Parliamentary System of Government, like the one in the U.K., Crooked Christie would have long ago been forced to step down. But sadly the leadership apparatus of our main political parties has been too easily corrupted by the likes of Crooked Christie, Arrogant Ingraham and more recently, Dimwit Minnis, and we have for the most part a dupable voting population incapable of discerning right from wrong. These three egocentric megalomaniacs (Christie, Ingraham and now Minnis) learned from Ruthless Pindling that only two things need be done to defeat our country's system of government and rule with impunity: (1) become a de facto dictator of their political party thereby enabling them to appoint candidates for elected office who are loyal to the party's leader above all else, including the well-being of the Bahamian people; and (2) dumb down the voters by granting citizenship to the poorest and least educated foreigners possible while at the same time creating and maintaining a D- public education system for the vast majority of future voters.

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MassExodus 3 years, 2 months ago

He could talk shit!

He has singlehandedly put this country back decades. We our now a legitimate 3rd world country. The PM says this is "beyond" his government???? What the F do we pay him for??? Those are the wrong god damn words Mr. PM! If these problems are "beyond" your government please step down immediately and allow someone else to attemp to address all our pressing issues!

Stop wasting our time and ruining our future.

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DDK 3 years, 2 months ago

Who WRITES Mr. Christie's fantasy speeches?

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DonAnthony 3 years, 2 months ago

Top of the List- Alfred Gray has to Go! He is an affront to the Bahamian people. We demand accountability of this government or it will be voted out.

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Sickened 3 years, 2 months ago

I truly hate this son of a bitch and the vast majority of his absolutely corrupt cabinet. Above all, I hope this march today gives all of these useless sub-humans heart attacks and strokes.

And when they die, I hope that the Bahamian people are in their Will, because we need the hundreds of millions of stolen money back!!!!

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Honestman 3 years, 2 months ago

Christie just does not get it. The time for talking is well past. This demonstration today is about Bahamians proving to ourselves that WE HAVE THE POWER! We have allowed corrupt politicians to rob and pillage not just our assets but our children's future. We have allowed them to feel comfortable that they can get away with doing what they like without having to be accountable to the people who elected them. We have allowed politicians to treat us with contempt. To them, we are only the dumb electorate who will put up with all the abuse they inflict on us because we don't know any better. Today must be the day that we shake them out of their comfort zone. March together Bahamaland. WE, THE PEOPLE, HAVE THE POWER..

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The_Oracle 3 years, 2 months ago

DO NOT MEET THE PM, and certainly not in his office! It is the surest way to undermine the movement. Next will be photo ops and claims that the movement is on his team! How will you refute that? It will appear the leadership of the movement has sold out. Let him come out in the street and say what he will to Everyone! This march is potentially only the beginning, not the end. Keep it peaceful people!

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TalRussell 3 years, 2 months ago

Comrades Stop What You Were Planning Today. There's no longer a need to Black Friday March On, when it is such a rarity for a PLP PM and one his own senior PLP Crown Ministers who for almost 5 years have ducked transparency by government and miraculously within but a few remaining months their political mandate's expiration acknowledges they are “painfully aware” that the country has suffered tremendous setbacks under their mandate. Suspiciously so, some may see this as Perry & Jerome's last minute attempt at "crowd control?"

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Honestman 3 years, 2 months ago

Tal, it's too early for whisky? What the heck are you saying?

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TalRussell 3 years, 2 months ago

Comrade Honestman, once I start reading these hereto Tribune blogs, it's never too early for whisky o'clock.

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licks2 3 years, 2 months ago

THAT HORSE HAS LEFT THE GATE A LONG TIME AGO. . .PLUS OUR PM HAS PROVEN NOT TO BE A MAN OF HIS WORD. . .I SAY DON'T MEET WITH HIM. . .HE IS MOST LIKELY TO SWITCH ON YA IN SHORT ORDER AFTER YA STOP THE MARCH!

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MonkeeDoo 3 years, 2 months ago

I think that Christie can take the March today as an Opinion Poll, like the one he held on Gambling and Web Shops. He is clearly sweating bullets and you know the house is air conditioned.

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thomas 3 years, 2 months ago

I think that after the US issued a statement those persons here who were ignoring this movement decided to react to it.

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MonkeeDoo 3 years, 2 months ago

I do believe that the mood of the people in this country ( evidenced these last few days ) will overcome future elections being bought by one party or the other. The Chinese and the web shops have been counteracted. This is a great day for the Bahamas. Maybe a new Independence Day. November 25th in perpetuity. !

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gangof4 3 years, 2 months ago

LoL.....what a clueless jackass Perry has become.

It's quite obvious that he must mastabate to the sound of his own voice!!

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Tarzan 3 years, 2 months ago

"Mr Christie told the group that his government remains “resolute” in its commitment to build and a peaceful, economically progressive and politically enlightened society,"

Really??? How about starting with why we cannot employ a floating power station that would have an immensely positive environmental impact, and would reduce our power bills by 50%? Oh, I forgot, Christie cronies are making millions hauling the dirty bunker fuel that is polluting our beaches and bankrupting our nation.

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TalRussell 3 years, 2 months ago

Comrades! Do we really need a Black Friday Protest when across The Bahamaland 82.275% of the population have long thoughts this and all previous governments serves only the privileged enough to be politically or economically connected to the hipbones of those in power or seeking to cease control over the powerful governing instruments. Do you really believe the people will matter any measurable amount after the Black Friday Protest?
And ... So, I was very afraid that instead of a dressing all in black in a mass demonstration about exactly what I am not sure, why not depart from our dependence on the crumbs from the tables of the politicians - PLP's and FNM's.
March or Protest, all you want, the politicians from both sides of the isles Peoples Honourable House of Assembly, will never invite you and your family into their privileged political membership club.
Comrades, I would join your March/Protest, if and when it's a Black Day Against A Broken Colonial System...and not just against your pick from the political personalities.
Stop protesting to the beat of the Talk Show Hosts who want you to Protest but only to their own political beat.
The Talk Show Hosts, are the peoples newest political enemy menace. When they tell you Black Friday has no bias political agenda....don't believe them.

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licks2 3 years, 2 months ago

Tal. . .go take a peek down on Bay Street. . .the house has been overtaken/overran. . .town in shut-down for the rest of the day. . .the PLP is over in this nation. . .there are thousands of people that have the town clogged. . ."everybody talking about a new day in the morning. . .new day in the morning. . .that's today"!

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Economist 3 years, 2 months ago

What is significant is that so many Bahamians have come together. This could, I hope, be the beginning of a new awareness that we can stand up together for a better Bahamas.

A united population is a political force that must be listened to by wayward leaders.

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Honestman 3 years, 2 months ago

If the People are really energized they can bring the country to a standstill through peaceful demonstration and force the government into an early general election. It's that simple.

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SP 3 years, 2 months ago

............ No Meeting & Dialog With Fork Tongue Christie! Time For Talk Is Over ............

THROW HIS ASS OUT!!

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 2 months ago

Don't ignore the call for a meeting, they will use that in their rhetoric as well, "we offered to meet, they just want to make noise". Deliver the list of conditions for a meeting to take place, things that are doable and can be done in the short term. "Fire Alfred Grey" for example, release the Bahamar details, moratorium on webshops, closure of webshops violating zoning laws

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licks2 3 years, 2 months ago

Please tell us why must we meet with a man who will not abide by any promise made, change anything that his party don't like or want and who don regard the voice of the people?

WE DON NOT TRUST HIM. . .WHY MEET WITH HIM. . .HE WILL JUST LIE AND GO RIGHT BACK TO DOING WHAT HE FEELS LIKE. . .TO HECK WITH US!

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SP 3 years, 2 months ago

........................................... List Of Demands For PM Christie .....................................

1) STFU

2) Get Lost

3) Take all your lousy, good for nothing, theiving ministers with you

4) Don't let the door hit you in the ass

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