Coronavirus
BAH | Sep 17, 2021

Bahamas PM concedes defeat in polls overshadowed by COVID-19

/ Our Today

administrator
Several environmental advocacy groups have collectively written to Bahamaian Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis for his administration to reconsider oil and gas drilling off the southwestern coast of the commonwealth. (Photo: Facebook @OPMBS)

NASSAU (Reuters)

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Thursday (September 16) conceded defeat in the general elections on the Atlantic island chain reeling from a surge in COVID-19 cases and slump in the tourism-dependent economy due to the pandemic.

Minnis called his challenger Philip Davis to congratulate him and his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) on winning the poll.

“I offered him my best wishes as his government now faces the continued fight against COVID-19, and the restoration of our economy,” Minnis, the leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) party, said in a statement.

Minnis had been hoping to become the first prime minister in 24 years to win a second five-year term.

Bahamian Prime Minister elect, Phillip Davis

But Davis’ PLP gained momentum with a campaign focused on what it termed the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak and the economy, which has seen unemployment surge to an estimated 20 per cent and the fiscal deficit balloon during the pandemic.

“In the morning we will rise as one nation and meet the challenges ahead,” Davis told the media after Minnis conceded. “Thank you for seeing the possibilities of what we can build together for our children and grandchildren.”

Some 119 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Wednesday (September 15), taking the active number to 1,679 in the nation of just 400,000 people, while the positivity rate has hovered around 25 per cent for the past six weeks.

Julian Rolle, chairman of the Public Hospitals Authority, told Bahamian media it had become difficult to staff healthcare facilities properly given about 5-10 per cent of staff was quarantined due to exposure to the virus.

Prime Minister Elect Davis to face many formidable challenges

Minnis had argued that the PLP cannot be trusted with reviving one of the most prosperous economies in the Atlantic-Caribbean region where tourism accounts for around 50 per cent of output and 60 per cent of employment.

Under his watch, the Bahamas received a record 1.8 million visitors in 2019 and outgoing Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said he was targeting 1 million air arrivals for 2021.

Davis’ PLP now faces some formidable challenges in office due to COVID-19 and its continuing health and economic impact.

“The reality is that we don’t have much wiggle room left. There won’t be a honeymoon for a new administration. It’s going to be right about the business because there’s a lot we have to right.”

Gowen Bowe, chief executive of Fidelity Bank

The scattered archipelago stretching from just off eastern Florida to near Cuba is also still rebuilding after being pummeled in 2019 by Hurricane Dorian, one of the strongest Caribbean hurricanes on record, which killed at least 74 people and left many others missing.

The national debt stood at $10.356 billion at the end-June 2021, according to the Bahamian Ministry of Finance, which forecasts a $951 million fiscal deficit for 2021-2022.

Gowon Bowe, chief executive of Fidelity Bank (Bahamas), a publicly traded bank, told Reuters: “The reality is that we don’t have much wiggle room left. There won’t be a honeymoon for a new administration. It’s going to be right about the business because there’s a lot we have to right.”

Comments

What To Read Next