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DPM Turnquest addresses CTU conference

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest addressed the General Conference of Ministers of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union yesterday. Read his remarks here. Deputy Prime Minister Turnquest gives welcome remarks at the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s 35th Executive Council and 20th General Conference of Ministers during ICT Week at Atlantis Paradise Island November 28. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Here follows remarks by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest during an address to delegates at the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) conference, and 35th Meeting of the Executive Council at Atlantis Paradise Island November 28:

It is indeed a pleasure and privilege on behalf of the Government and people of the Bahamas to welcome ICT Ministers from the region to our country on the occasion of the 20th Meeting of the General Conference of Ministers of the CTU, and the 35th Meeting of the Executive Council. We are delighted that you can join us here at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island as we host this most significant series of meetings organized by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union. The Government of The Bahamas is proud to host the CTU for a week of meetings, forums and workshops that we are confident will advance the development of Information and Communications Technologies in the Caribbean region and beyond.

Caribbean governments play an extremely important role in leading the process of regional integration through collaboration and cooperation. The leadership provided through CARICOM has often resulted in the commitment of regional countries to acknowledge and address the myriad of challenges impacting progress in our small island developing states. It was a mandate of CARICOM in February of this year that empowered the Caribbean Telecommunications Union to look more comprehensively at how we, as a region, can more effectively embrace Information Communication Technologies as a foundation for national development and greater regional interaction.

As a relatively new administration in The Bahamas, we came to government on the commitment to develop a culture of transparency and accountability in governance. We came to office understanding the need to take a different approach to economic expansion and diversification. We understood the rapidly evolving global environment, influenced and driven in large measure by the technological revolution that is impacting every aspect of national, regional and global development. We knew that the different approach to national development and a more significant regional and global participation required a commitment to embrace technology as fundamental to this new approach.

The Government of The Bahamas is convinced that embracing ICTs and making them the foundation of every project and initiative we undertake as a nation, will serve as the catalyst for our economic resurgence and social development, creating a self-sustaining machine for future growth.

This commitment to embracing ICTs is evident in the ongoing transformation of the Public Service. We are strengthening the ICT structure and capacity within the public service to further expand the use of technology to provide improved levels of customer service efficiency, transparency and accountability. We are employing technology to establish the new digital workflow that will redefine the way the Government does business with the public.

We are undergoing major technological advancements in the Ministry of Finance and its agencies, including Bahamas Customs and the Department of Inland Revenue. We are currently rolling out a new electronic Vehicle and Driver’s licensing process. We are working to ensure that, despite the challenges and obstacles, we can systematically employ technology throughout the public service and through policy, inspire and encourage the private sector to continue its evolution as well.

The Government of The Bahamas is committed to economic expansion through ICTs and have designated the island of Grand Bahama as the centre for technology investment and development. As a direct impact of this policy, we envisage the creation of diverse investment and career opportunities through the effective utilization of ICTs.

This commitment is reinforced by the recent passage of the Commercial Enterprise Legislation that is designed to attract a broad range of new business opportunities for The Bahamas, embracing Information Communication Technologies as the foundation of this new business development and economic expansion thrust.

These initiatives, together with our expressed commitment to technological transformation, highlights The Bahamas’ endorsement of the CTU’s Single ICT space. We believe that the creation of such a platform could have far reaching positive implications for regional development through trade and cooperation.

We also endorse the Caribbean Spectrum Planning and Management Project, the ICT Collaboration Forum, and its many other collaborative ICT development initiatives that augur well for national and regional growth and development.

Ministers, we must see our roles as pivotal to the creation of the new technologically integrated Caribbean Region that provides the strength for small states to effectively compete in the new global environment.

Finally, we would like to thank the CTU and all of you Ministers for joining us here in The Bahamas for this week of meetings, workshops and seminars. We do hope that the deliberations are productive and meaningful to all member states. Please do not leave without embracing the opportunity to sample our culture. Get a taste of the Bahamian islands and be sure to return for both business and pleasure.

Some 40 key policymakers from member states of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union and 100 professionals and executives are at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island to participate in workshops, conferences and seminars all week this week.

The Grand Celebration cruise vessel has renewed its agreement to sail to Grand Bahama, with scheduled trips from West Palm Beach resuming December 24. The introduction of a second vessel, the SS Grand Classica is scheduled to begin cruises to the island in April, 2018.

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