Government must keep people informed
This article is based on a speech given by Christopher Famous in the House of Assembly
A few weeks ago a member of public pulled me aside and asked “Now that we found love, what are we gonna do with it?”
Essentially, he wanted to know that now that the election is over what is next for the people of Bermuda?
To be quite honest, I found myself unable to give an answer at that point. In fact, it has taken me a few weeks to do some research to get a clearer picture of where we should be heading.
During this research a recurring saying came to mind: “Plan your work and work your plan.”
Mr Speaker, the euphoria of the election has faded away and the honeymoon period will not last for ever.
Perhaps coincidently, this week marks the end of our first 100 days in office. Goals such as establishing a gang co-ordinator, commencing a review of the Aecon airport contract and putting wi-fi in all primary schools have been met.
Other tasks such as reviewing health and safety of all public schools and negotiations with unions are under way.
Yet these are just the tip of the iceberg of the road ahead of us as a country. Globally and locally we face a myriad of challenges that must be dealt with not just by us as a political party, but more broadly dealt with by us as a people.
Whether it is constant pressure by the OECD or climate change there are many things that we have little to no margin of error.
Mr Speaker, imagine what would it mean for the IB sector if we do not ensure that our country stays off the financial blacklist. We would face an exodus of the very companies that keep our economy afloat, resulting in a sharp decline of houses being rented, groceries being purchased and all other service industries shrinking almost overnight.
Looking at those negative knock-on effects we all need to ensure that our finance minister, his ministry, the BDA, the BMA and all related agencies such as Abic and Abir are given all the support they need to keep our economic engines going.
As the saying goes: “International business is everyone’s business.”
Mr Speaker, in an address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 22, 2017, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, stated that small island states collectively produce 0.1 per cent of global emissions, yet we are the most vulnerable to the results of climate change.
We cannot control the emissions of industrial nations, nor can we control the effects of global warming that brings Category 5 hurricanes. What we can control is how we prepare ourselves for the unfortunate eventuality of the next hurricane hitting us.
Mr Speaker, we can recall our elders stating “it’s not what you say but how you say it”.
We have a responsibility, or should I say opportunity, to help elevate the knowledge of our people. Governments often fail because they fail to properly communicate with the people. On other occasions, governments become either complacent or worse, dictatorial.
The end result is that the people who are not knowledgeable of what is going on are less inclined to support them. We cannot allow this to be the case under our watch.
At times we will have to make hard decisions. However, as long as we give the people advance reasoning they will be more understanding of our impending actions.
With multiple ways to communicate, we have to not only tell them what we are doing in advance, but give them the back story of why we are doing it with the short and long-term results of major policy or legislation we bring forward.
Whether it be via town halls, panel discussions, social media or good old canvassing, the people deserve to be fully informed with realistic facts, figures and statistics.
We can no longer just come up in this house and debate among ourselves and expect that the public understand what is going on.
We must be innovative enough to participate in upcoming PechaKucha events to help broaden our message.
In closing, anyone can have a wedding, but it takes a lot of work to ensure that the marriage will last. Likewise, anyone, given the right set of conditions, can win an election.
However, it takes ingenuity and commitment for any government to continue to get respect and love.
• Christopher Famous is a Progressive Labour Party MP
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