Bahamas PM points to economic growth since taking office

Friday, January 19, 2018

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NASSAU, Bahamas – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis says the country's economy is steadly improving due to a dramatic reform agenda that was implemented during the first seven months of his administration.

Addressing the opening session of the 27th annual Bahamas Business Outlook seminar on Thursday, Minnis said while there is still “a long road ahead”, there are positive prospects for the economy on the horizon.

He said the turnaround is also a result of the “certainty and stability” his Administration has brought to the table insofar as government policy (policies) is concerned.

“Certainty and stability are crucial for economic growth and development,” Prime Minister Minnis told a packed room. “Even in tough economic conditions, businesses invest and create jobs if there is certainty about government policies on things like work permits, taxes, regulations relating to their business and other matters.”

Minnis, who took office on May 10, 2017, said his administration was also able to forestall further downgrade of the country's credit rating through “quick action and careful financial management”.

“Upon coming to office, my Government fully appreciated that becoming a world-class country demanded dramatic and ongoing reform, modernisation and transformation.

“To aggressively pursue our reform agenda required a programme of immediate stabilisation; ideas for economic liberalisation and public sector reform, and a variety of initiatives to boost growth and development.

“We had to first stabilise public finances and the economy through fiscal discipline, transparency and honesty with international agencies. Through quick action and careful financial management, we forestalled further downgrade of our credit rating. This took tremendous effort and reining-in of public finances.”

The prime minister said the government will continue to address the issue of corruption by public officials – which he said is a burden on the public sector and which retards investment, development and productivity.

Additionally, the Government “continues to take the necessary steps” to comply with various international norms and protect the country's financial services industry.

“Upon our election to office, The Bahamas faced the threat of immediate blacklisting by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union. We faced blacklisting if we failed to give a definitive indication of our commitment to apply for membership to the Multilateral Convention for the Automatic Exchange of Tax Information.

“We are continuing to take the necessary steps to comply with various international norms and to protect our financial services industry. The Government is also committed to a programme of dramatic reform and liberalisation of the economy.”

The further liberalisation of the economy will include a focus on Bahamian small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) which the prime minister said are “a critical part of our economy”.

“These businesses employ thousands of Bahamians. They are critical for economic growth,” Minnis noted.

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