Bahamas: Prime Minister of Bahamas Dr. Hubert Minnis interacts with the people during the official opening of a satellite Passport Office on Exuma.
“From Exuma has risen national leaders, giants in religion, cultural icons, leading businessmen and women and other citizens of note. Just as you have invested your talent in the wider treasury of Bahamian talent, we must invest in the needs and the potential of Exuma,” said the Prime Minister.
“In our 2017 Manifesto, we said we would implement measures to expedite the delivery of passport and consular services to Bahamians and that special attention would be paid to residents in the Family Islands and overseas,” said the Prime Minister.
He also emphasized that We were determined to eliminate and reduce the many expenses associated with Family Island residents getting a new passport.
Prime Minister Minnis said those islands were selected based on location and demographic considerations.
“The Passport Office remains to serve as a leader among government agencies in the use of digital technology,” said the Prime Minister.
He noted that the new Epics system aids the turn-around of passports within five to seven working days. The passport delivery time to the Abaco and Freeport offices and overseas consulates has been reduced to seven to 10 working days.
Since the system has gone live, more than 140,000 passports have been issued.
More than 10,000 renewal requests were received on the online portal, said the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Minnis recognized the financial challenges faced by Exuma residents due to the COVID-19 pandemic but remarked that the economy would begin to improve as the world reopens.
He pointed out that several small businesses in Exuma have received funding from the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC).
Twenty businesses have been recommended for funding at a value of $476,411 with disbursements so far figuring $256,000, said the Prime Minister.
“Things will get better completely the country and throughout Exuma,” said Prime Minister Minnis. “A better future is in sight.”