H.E. Arthur Alexander Foulkes, Knight Commander of the Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, was sworn in today as the eighth Governor-General of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham in remarks at the ceremony at Government House noted that in a constitutional monarchy the installation and swearing-in of the representative of Her Majesty the Queen is *“of particular moment”.* He also spoke to the important role played by Sir Arthur in bringing about political and social change in The Bahamas and said it is fitting that he assumes this high office during a period of reform, great challenges and equally significant opportunities. ”*Your appointment as Governor-General comes following nearly 50 years of political struggle and national contribution of the highest order,”* he said.
##Speech from the Throne##
Shortly afterwards, the new Governor General presented the Speech from the Throne at the Opening of Parliament. He spoke to the commitment to thorough modernization of government and the delivery of improved public services, noting that the spirit and urgency of reform *“drives and informs the Government’s responses to the fervent dreams and pressing needs of the Bahamian people.”* The Government’s vision is built on the ideals of opportunity and responsibility, fairness and equality, accountability and transparency, and to advance this vision, an ambitious legislative agenda of reform and modernization is planned.
The Governor General said the legislative agenda is based on a number of recognitions from the Government of The Bahamas, including the need to establish a timelier labour dispute mechanism; make enforcement of various international obligations and domestic laws more vigorous and effective; reform and modernize laws related to more vulnerable citizens; support the protection and maintenance of the biodiversity within the Protected Area System of The Bahamas and to improve protection and control of animals. It also recognises that good and marketable title to land is essential to economic empowerment.
The legislative agenda further addresses the Government’s efforts to continue to reform and modernize the Public Service, develop the talents of young people, and its commitment to good, effective and open governance. The Government also is committed to further bolstering environmental defences and combatting the dire effects of climate change; in this connection, it has provided significant international and regional leadership with regard to environmental protection and climate change which threatens this nations’ way of life and its economic development.
Accordingly, the Governor General presented the
for the new Session of Parliament, forecasting legislation to:
* create a Bahamas Financial Services Authority
* enact a new modern Penal Code and a new updated Criminal Procedure Code
* incorporate The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute
* modernize and simplify probate of estates
* provide for the creation of a National Sports Authority
* simplify and make more effective employment dispute adjudication and determination
Also specifically referenced were:
* 1943 Prisons Act (New)
* Animal Control and Protection Bill
* Contractors Act
* Freedom of Information Bill
* Forestry Act
* Good Samaritan (Food Donation) Act.
* Land Adjudication Act
* Law of Property Act
* Magistrates Court, Coroners Act (New)
* Medical, Dental and Nurses Acts (New)
* Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Act
* Protected Trust Fund Act
* Public Service Act (New)
* Registered Land Act
* Securities Act (New)
* Small and Medium Size Business Development Act
Proposed legislative amendments include Acts to:
* amend The Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Act
* amend The Bahamas National Trust Act
* amend The Bail Act
* amend The Legal Profession Act
* amend The Merchant Shipping
* amend The Parliamentary Elections Act
* amend The Road Traffic Act
The new Governor General concluded the Speech from the Throne with a prayer for the blessings of Almighty God to rest upon Parliamentary deliberations in the new Session.