NASSAU, Bahamas, CMC – The Bahamas is celebrating its 38th year of political independence from Britain with Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham indicating that the country has emerged into a vibrant democracy and international business centre.
The Bahamas obtained its political independence from Britain on July 10, 1973 and this year’s celebration is being observed under them theme “38 years – United in Love and Service”.
Ingraham told citizens that during the past 38 years the chain of islands have ‘ evolved from a small colony on the periphery of the British Empire into a vibrant democracy and international business centre, proud of our social and political stability and determined to broaden economic opportunities for every citizen.
“Our success to date is manifested in the fact that we enjoy one of the highest per capita incomes among countries in the Americas.”
But he said in recent years, the Bahamas like other developing countries, have endured economic hardships due to the fallout from the global economic recession.
“ In the face of such adversity we responded by in ways reflective of the theme of this year’s anniversary celebrations. We preserved public sector jobs, increased social assistance programmes, introduced an unemployment benefit, implemented a short term jobs programme, implemented a jobs training programme and accelerated planned infrastructure projects so as to improve service to the Bahamian people while protecting private sector jobs and serving as a catalyst for more job creation.”
The Prime minister said that those initiatives were now being expanded to include new job readiness training, a new jobs creation programme and special targeted initiatives to support small and medium size businesses.
“These will all contribute to our planned return to economic prosperity as the world economy and our own continues their recovery.”
But Ingraham said that this year’s independence celebrations are marred by a continued high incidence of crime and that while his administration has mounted a multifaceted response to the problem it is increasingly important that all Bahamians unite “in sending a clear message to the small minority of persons who break our social contract of good neighbourliness and who choose to live outside of the law, that we will neither tolerate nor excuse their criminal behaviour.
“In this regard, we should all recall and reflect upon the important role that the extended family and the neighbourhood have played in our development as a people who are open and welcoming, who share easily and who believe that service is a virtue.”
The Prime Minister warned Bahamians that there will be “many challenges in the year ahead (including) achieving economic recovery and expansion, protecting our environment from degradation in the face of climate change and sea level rise, safeguarding the supply and cost of energy and of food and winning our war on crime.
“We are a hardy people, self-reliant and bolstered by a long tradition of resourcefulness and self-reliance. So as we celebrate this 38th anniversary of our independence we recall those qualities,” he added.
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