Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie addresses attendees of the Royal Fidelity Bahamas Economic Outlook Seminar held in Atlantis, Paradise Island on Tuesday February 3rd. (BIS Photo / Peter Ramsay)
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Perry G. Christie is optimistic about the country’s future economic prospects. He said the country’s financial future is moving in a positive direction. Mr Christie made the statement during his remarks at the Royal Fidelity Bahamas Economic Outlook Seminar held in Atlantis, Paradise Island on February 3: Progress we continue to see in attracting foreign investment to our coasts and because of the stronger momentum from the United States and other major economies that fuel our tourism product.
He said the government would stay the course on its tax reform agenda, to engender confidence that stable and sustainable public finances allow Bahamian and foreign businesses to expand.
“Our national well-being is also linked to the quality of life and the positive aspirations we offer to our citizens,” he observed. “As such, I believe that the goals we have set for ourselves in terms of improving the quality of social infrastructure in the areas of health, education and public safety will also contribute to a more conducive environment. economic activities. “
Mr. Christie noted that the country’s economy has grown in recent years and continues to create new jobs. He said, however, that by all measures this pace has not been strong enough to allow the unemployment rate to drop sharply.
The government is now on the way to explore new territories to boost the tourism sector. Steps have already been taken to attract emerging markets like Latin America and Asia.
On unemployment in the country, Prime Minister Christie said the latest figures from a recent survey indicate that overall unemployment was 15.7% by the end of 2014 and that urban unemployment peaked at almost 19%. He said the government is “committed” to reducing these numbers by continuing to stimulate private sector investment.
“The seeds for many of these jobs are already sown in projects at various stages of development in New Providence, Eleuthera, Andros, Abaco, Bimini, Exuma, San Salvador, Cat Island, Grand Bahama and other regions,” Mr Christie said.
The government, he continued, has embarked on the search for a major private sector partner to take over the operations of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation. He said the goal is to reduce the cost of electricity for businesses and consumers.
In addition, he discussed the recent modernization and regularization exercise that the government has undertaken with the gaming industry.
“We have already developed a modern and inclusive regulatory framework for games. Indeed, the progress we have made in regularizing local gambling activity cannot be underestimated, ”said Mr. Christie. “Until now, we had faced the diversion of precious police and judicial resources to deter these activities, and we tolerated a shadow financial system that threatened the stability of the regulated banking sector. With the reform, we resolved these distortions and allowed these activities to directly contribute to the revenue generation capacity of the government.
Mr. Christie also spoke about the upcoming Bahamian Junkanoo Carnival. He said it was a “long overdue commercialization of a cultural practice that had to take place.” He said the goal is to attract more visitors to the country and improve their experience while simultaneously providing additional gains in tax generation and collection.
“It puts thousands of Bahamians in a position to start making a living from something they loved to do just out of love for themselves, and so far at their own expense,” he said. “I expect the upcoming Bahamian Junkanoo Carnival to generate significant economic returns and position the Bahamas in strong competition from other regional festivals of this type.”
The prime minister said the Bahamian Institute of Agricultural and Marine Sciences (BAMSI) was high on the list of initiatives that can “solidify and broaden” our economic base. “Commercial agriculture and fishing must be able to thrive in a sustained manner in our country – BAMSI must contribute to the scientific body of knowledge on cash crop techniques that can thrive in the Bahamas. “
He said BAMSI would produce a new generation of businessmen skilled in agriculture and fishing. He believes this is an opportunity to increase linkages between inputs and tourism and secure niche export markets.
And finally, the Prime Minister mentioned the upcoming opening of the Baha Mar Resort. The new complex is expected to open in the spring and employ some 5,000 people.