The House of Assembly Select Committee on Natural Resources made its first site visit this past week to North Andros.
Why it matters
Many Bahamians have been calling on the government to ensure Bahamians benefit from the country’s natural resources. Thus, a committee was appointed by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, the latter part of 2020 to examine the country’s natural resources.
The committee promises to make various site visits and make a report to the country on its findings.
What happened on the first official visit
The Committee spent Wednesday afternoon and Thursday until departure late afternoon making site visits.
Wednesday was on-land natural resources for the most part including: Morgan’s Bluff, Well Fields, Red Bays (sponge and fish) and Charlie’s Blue Hole.
Thursday was marine natural resources.
North Andros resident and Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association President Prescott Smith took the Committee on a tour including the Barrier Reef, the Great Bahama Bank, the Tongue of the Ocean, Stafford Creek and Flats. A delightful highlight of the tour was when about 10 dolphins, including a baby dolphin, swam alongside the boat and jumped out of the water!
The Committee members making the trip:
Michael A. Foulkes, Chairman, Shonel Ferguson, Picewell Forbes, Vaughn Miller and Reece Chipman. Accompanying the Committee members were Carlton Bowleg, MP for the area, and Rashad Flowers, Assistant Clerk, House of Assembly.
The Committee will continue its work this week in New Providence while making plans for the next site visit in Grand Bahama in February.
Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller lambasted the government for neither informing nor inviting him to the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the new Carmichael Village Subdivision.
Miller stood in the House of Assembly to slam the government saying the lack of invitation shows “disrespect.” He said, “I take grave offense.”
Why it matters
The new subdivision is located in the Golden Isles constituency.
Vaughn Miller just recently crossed the floor from the governing party to become a member of the Progressive Liberal Party.
The housing project in the Carmichael area was attended by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and the Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira.
The big picture
The new subdivision comprises a total of 365 lots for the purpose of home construction. It will accommodate single and multi-family housing. Additional lots will be used to construct community parks and other common areas for the residents of the subdivision.
The serviced lot will provide land at prices below market value in order for the land to be used as collateral; ensure that the land has infrastructure; and provide concessions to enable Bahamians to build at considerably reduced costs.
What Vaughn Miller said
It has always been accepted and expected practice in our democracy. He is not aware nor informed that the practice has been changed.
It was a blatant lack of respect shown to him as the member of parliament for the area.
I was elected and not appointed by Golden Isles.
We are supposed to be honorable men and women in this honorable institution. Our behaviour should therefore reflect the same.
I am the member of parliament for the said constituency regardless of their political persuasion.
It is disheartening to see the leader of the country seemingly unfazed that the elected member of parliament for the said constituency was not apart of the project that could undoubtedly have a great impact on the quality of life of those residents.
State of play
Prime Minister Minnis nor Romauld Ferriera were present in the House during the speech.
Golden Isles Member of Parliament Vaughn Miller announced in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that he will become a member of the Progressive Liberal Party, having left the Free National Movement in 2019 to become an independent candidate.
Miller who is also a pastor of Resurrection Ministries International Church, said he sought consultation with God, his wife and church leaders before he made his decision to join the opposition party.
Miller has offered to run 2022 in the Golden Isles constituency for the PLP, and will now be seated near the opposition in the HOA until the next general election.
Vaughn Miller’s history in Golden Isles
Miller won the Golden Isles constituency in 2017 by 3,374 votes, beating PLP’s Michael Halkitis by 56 percent of the vote.
But when Miller left the FNM in 2019, he lost the support of the area’s association.
As Miller jumped ship to the PLP, a new question arises. What changed about the PLP? The PLP has not yet proven that they have changed and that they can lead the Bahamas . Why now?
Was the switch for political survival? Miller can now be expected to be used as a prop by the PLP.
Miller in his speech during the debate, never gave his reasoning for joining the opposition, only to say he talked with Opposition Leader Philip Davis and that he always desired “to help people.”
“It is time to do what is best for me,” Miller said.
Davis in a press statement, said, “I have been speaking to Miller for some time. I think his experience mirrors that of many Bahamians who wanted to believe the promises made by the Free National Movement in 2017, but who came to realize that his governemnt has neither the intention nor the capacity to keep those promises.”
Chester Cooper described Miller’s switch as a “jubilant day.”
“A glad day, a glorious day as we welcome Miller to the party,” whom he said he always admired.
What’s next for Vaughn Miller?
Miller’s chances of winning in the 2022 as an independent candidate was slim to none, as Bahamians rarely select independent representatives for their constituency.
His chances of winning as a PLP candidate is also slim.
Although Miller offered to run as a PLP candidate for Golden Isles, it is yet to be seen if he is the party’s strongest candidate for the area in 2022.
Will his constituency follow his path to the PLP or will it remain an FNM stronghold in the next general election?
Miller will face an uphill challenge from the FNM candidate for Golden Isles.