The Bahamas - Domestic policy



The Bahamas is considered to be one of the thirty-seven high-income countries of the world. The principal sources of that income are tourism and offshore banking. Tourism alone accounts for more than 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs almost half of the archipelago's labor force. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector, accounting for 15% of GDP, due to the country's status as a tax haven and offshore banking center.

The PLP's platform on domestic issues includes securing the financial services sector, promoting real estate development, energizing tourism, subsidizing agriculture, improving the investment climate for Bahamian investors, addressing issues of residency, preserving the environment, creating jobs, and introducing a national savings program.

Christie appointed a full sixteen-member Cabinet (including three women), repositioning the preexisting ministries to respond more effectively to national priorities. Among his appointees was Cynthia "Mother" Pratt, who became the first woman Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security.

Christie also set about fulfilling election campaign promises. In December 2002, he introduced a bill in Parliament to amend the real property tax. By increasing the exemption on real property in an escalating real property market, he aimed to collect more revenue. He created a Constitutional Review Commission to reform the Constitution. For the first time Bahamian women would participate in the constitutional process, having been excluded in 1972. He also called for parliamentary reform, as the procedures had not been revamped in 273 years. Three e-commerce bills introduced by Christie were passed. The primary objective of these bills was to develop an "environment of integrity" and "legal certainty… to inspire confidence in on-line commercial activity."

With a crime recidivism rate approaching 70% and a recent Amnesty International Report calling prison conditions in the Bahamas inhumane, Christie considered prison reform a priority. In 2002, his Prison Reform Commission issued a report that included a strategic review of the prison, a security and safety audit, and a draft inmate handbook. Christie predicted that these reports would impact the entire Caribbean region and that they provided a comprehensive assault on deviant conduct in the Bahamas.

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