The Competent Authority is Not Competent

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Hon. Philip Davis, Q.C., M.P.
Prime Minister
Commonwealth of The Bahamas

Another Sunday, another 5pm National Address by a Competent Authority who has lost the trust of the Bahamian people.

Seventeen months into COVID, the Prime Minister and Competent Authority of One keeps making the same mistakes, including:

  1. The government is failing to test enough to keep pace with COVID outbreaks, relying too heavily instead on lockdowns and curfews. Day after day of sky-high positivity rates constitute proof that the government is not moving quickly enough or testing enough Bahamians to control COVID outbreaks across the country. What could possibly be the excuse for this? They have had 17 months to grasp how crucial a tool testing is in controlling the spread of the virus, and many months of warning about the more transmissible variants that are now in circulation.

Outbreaks should be met with a very swift deployment of testing and tracing resources; outbreaks on the Family Islands in particular can be stopped by deploying sufficient personnel and resources.

We will be flying personnel and hundreds of testing kits to Cat Island first thing tomorrow morning.

  1. The government issues orders without consultation, forcing them to backtrack after errors cause hardship and confusion.

The Constitution allows for the appointment of a Competent Authority following a declaration of emergency; it was envisioned that this Authority would include a range of expertise and viewpoints. Instead, the Prime Minister has kept that authority for himself, and has additionally failed to consult extensively or to listen to citizens affected by his emergency orders.

Therefore, he is continually forced to revise his orders – as was just the case when it became apparent that the curfew in Andros would adversely affect the crabbers who need to make a living and feed their families.

We advise the Prime Minister that it makes no sense to impose testing requirements on Family Islanders who have no way to meet those requirements in a timely manner because of a lack of PCR testing or processing facilities. Either the government must supply the necessary resources or the government must adjust the requirements. People cannot do that which is impossible to meet the whims of the Competent Authority.

  1. The government started the vaccination campaign late and continues to lag behind in the region; the programme has been plagued by fits and starts.

On numerous Family Islands, including Cat Island, vaccinations did not begin until late April.

The Competent Authority – the same one who called opposition members of Parliament “contaminants” — is very sensitive to criticism – so allergic, in fact, that all reasonable suggestions for a more competent, more coherent response to COVID outbreaks are called “political attacks”.

But it’s become obvious that over seventeen months, he has failed to deploy testing to stop the virus, failed to consult with and listen to Bahamians, and failed to get large numbers of Bahamians vaccinated.

It’s never too late to start doing the right thing. We urge him to start now.