By Candia Dames
Journal Staff Writer
The Government of The Bahamas will in the coming fiscal year create an Urban Renewal Authority to continue a social programme of which the prime minister is becoming increasingly passionate about.
Prime Minister Perry Christie made the announcement Wednesday while making his budget communication in the House of Assembly.
“The Authority will be provided with its own budgetary resources to pursue the process of urban renewal on an expanded basis with the greatest possible vigour,” he said.
Mr. Christie said that it is a priority of his government to continue what he called an innovative approach to social policy formation so that better housing, health and youth development services are provided as budgetary resources become increasingly available for allocation to these services.
He labelled the Urban Renewal Programme – an offspring of his Farm Road Project – a closely coordinated, multi-faceted and comprehensive strategy aimed at transforming the country’s inner-city communities into vibrant, dynamic and healthy centres of human habitation.
“At the same time, individual lives will be transformed positively,” Mr. Christie said.
He announced that 128 additional lots have been earmarked for low-cost housing and community parks as part of the programme. Mr. Christie also pointed out that in the last two years, his government has constructed 558 new houses.
Pointing to a “crucial” feature of the programme, the prime minister said it involves the private sector making a contribution, including computers and musical instruments for youth development initiatives.
The social programme contains a component supported by the Inter-American Development Bank for skills training and other activities to assist in the formation and execution of strategies for youth development, he announced.
“Since the Urban Renewal Programme is intended to draw on increasing resources and participation from our partners in the private sector, the budgetary component derived from the Public Treasury and from the Inter-American Development Bank constitute a part of the overall financial mass which is being dedicated to the programme,” Mr. Christie said.
He also announced that the Inter-American Development Bank has accepted the extended invitation of the Bahamas to host the 2006 annual meeting of the Bank in Nassau.
“This reflects the excellent relations between the Bank and the Government of The Bahamas,” Mr. Christie said. “The meeting will be a major international event at which the Bahamas will be positioned centre-stage.”