By: Eric Rose
Bahamas Information Services
#TheBahamas, June 28, 2022 – During the press conference on his return from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda, the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Hon. Philip Davis noted that as he closely followed the news from the Bahamas the previous week, he had been able to speak candidly with other CHOGM leaders about what was happening in the Bahamas, versus what was happening in their country.
“I was able to learn some of the ways they are tackling the same challenges and some of the ways they are creating new opportunities for their people,” Prime Minister Davis said, during the briefing in the VIP lounge at Lynden International Airport. Pindling, June 27, 2022.
Among those present at the press conference were the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation, Hon. Chester Cooper; Minister of Health and Wellness, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet of Prime Minister David Davis; Minister of State to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda; police commissioner Paul Rolle; and Ms. Ann Marie Davis, from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Wife.
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, like many other small island states, the Bahamas is beset by global challenges, which are not of its own making. He said the activities of major nations create and exacerbate pressures on the economy and national development of the Bahamas.
“Whether it’s the pollution of the industrialized world that ultimately results in storms like Hurricane Dorian, or the behavior of authoritarian leaders that cause global instability, CHOGM has provided an opportunity to directly challenge some of these leaders,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“In my contribution to the Business Forum, where I was one of the few leaders to be invited to give a presentation, I insisted that “none of us will succeed if we try to do the things on our own.’,” he added.
“It’s a similar point I made to the people of the Bahamian early in our administration: that our country will only succeed if we all work together, in partnership,” Prime Minister Davis continued. “The meetings and discussions we had at CHOGM clearly reinforced this point: By working together, we can accomplish much more than trying to go it alone.”
Prime Minister Davis said he was pleased to report that his government’s international efforts were “bearing fruit”.
He said: “Our voice is heard. Other countries want to strengthen their relations with us. Other world leaders and business people want to invest in us. And international organizations want to help us.
“We are at an ‘inflection point’, a time when we can see our fortunes change. We are now in the kind of discussions where we can not only make our needs known, but also have our demands honored.
Prime Minister Davis noted that the whole idea of the Bahamas was changing and people wanted to do business with the nation.
“This kind of influence and these kind of results became possible because of our decision to make our foreign policy work better and better for us,” he said.
“For example, the pressure we have exerted in terms of funding and support to protect ourselves against the impact of climate change, this pressure is working,” Prime Minister Davis added. “Soon we will be able to say more about the specific offers of funding and support we have received.
“In terms of the big picture, there is still some way to go before polluting countries meet their stated obligations; but slowly and surely, the Bahamas are starting to take advantage of it.
Prime Minister Davis underlined that during CHOGM 2022, his government established formal diplomatic relations with its host, Rwanda, as well as with Tuvalu and Gabon.
“We are grateful to the President of Rwanda, who extended special courtesies to us,” he said. “The first day we were there, we were honored when he invited me to escort him to the opening session and named me, the Bahamas, as his special guest.”
“The next day, we were all deeply moved to visit a memorial in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, paying tribute to the millions of people who died in the 1994 genocide, just 28 years ago,” the Prime Minister added. Davis. “On this site alone were buried some 250,000 people, more than half of our population. I cannot describe the feeling of walking on such sacred ground.
“Witnessing some of the horrors of that time, and now seeing the modern state they have since built, brought tears of sympathy and admiration.”
“We can take what we have learned and apply it to our own national development,” Prime Minister Davis continued. “And they are eager to learn from us how to develop their tourism industry.
“As so many countries do, they recognize the Bahamas as world leaders in the industry.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that his delegation had also held a number of meetings with other countries and organizations.
“Discussions covered multiple issues, as diverse as emerging threats from new health challenges, such as microbial infections, and how to secure energy supply,” he said.
“We have also actively participated in events developing strategies to improve and promote the rights and well-being of young people and women.
Prime Minister Davis said he was proud to see the Spouse’s Office “so engaged in the Women’s Forum.”
“Issues affecting women in particular in the Bahamas were well represented, from ways to get better and fairer employment, to addressing issues of gender-based violence,” he said.
Prime Minister Davis stressed that in his delegation with the President of Botswana, they agreed to support each other, with Botswana helping the Bahamas to develop its livestock industry, and the Bahamas offering support, again in the development of tourism.
“As with so many African leaders we’ve met, we recognized each other in each other’s faces, people who not only look like us, but remind us of specific individuals back home,” Prime Minister Davis said. . “And as the President of Botswana has said, they want to reconnect and strengthen ties with our brothers and sisters who were so cruelly taken from us hundreds of years ago.
“He accepted our invitation to attend some of the celebrations surrounding the 50e Anniversary of Independence, and in return, invited us not only to engage in technical matters of common interest, but also to know a little about their culture.
“If we continue on this path and succeed in making the Bahamas a kind of bridge between the Caribbean and Africa, the opportunities for Bahamians and the Bahamas will continue to multiply,” he added.
Prime Minister Davis said that over time he hopes many more Bahamians will be able to visit, and even work for a time, in some of the countries “with which we share so many ancient ties”.
“We were delighted to organize a dinner for a small number of Bahamians who already live in Rwanda or neighboring countries,” he said. “Travel certainly expands the mind, and our country will be richer from the kind of exposure these experiences will bring to each of us.”
Prime Minister Davis said that as part of broader discussions on strategies for managing the economy, tackling crime, improving housing and access to financial services, better protecting and managing of the resources of our oceans and seas, the voice of the Bahamian people was heard loud and clear and people expressed their enthusiasm to work with the nation.
“We have already issued a statement on the results of CHOGM,” he added. “We were particularly pleased with the re-election of Patricia Scotland as Secretary General.
Prime Minister Davis noted that the Bahamas was playing an “extremely active role” in encouraging others to join the nation in its support. He pointed out that, behind the scenes, for many months, some States tried to go against the convention and refuse the automatic re-election of the first female Secretary-General, whom he described as “a woman strength of the Caribbean”.
“We not only thought it was unfair, but we also benefited from several of his initiatives, such as the ‘Commonwealth Blue Charter’,” the Prime Minister said. “Their recent Ocean Action report, ‘An Ocean of Opportunity’, contains a lot of things that can benefit the Bahamas.
“I encourage you all to read it.”
“I also encourage you to read the official documents produced by the leaders, including the Final Communique, the Leaders’ Statement, the Commonwealth Living Lands Charter, the Sustainable Urbanization Declaration, etc.,” he said. added.
“At the moment, these documents may seem remote from the struggles that so many of us face every day.
“But these agreements, they will help guide and shape our future.”
Prime Minister Davis said if Bahamians want to safeguard and protect their future, then these are the kinds of actions the nation must “start taking today.”
“We return home inspired, confident that we have worked hard, productively and effectively on behalf of the Bahamian people,” he said.
“And of course it’s always good to be home.
CAPTION OF PHOTOS: Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Philip Davis speaks, June 27, 2022, in the VIP lounge at Lynden Pindling International Airport, during a press briefing on his return from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), in Rwanda. (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)