NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Government of The Bahamas has and will implement a number of initiatives aimed at improving the ease in which business is conducted in-country, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Alexander Minnis said Wednesday.
Three priority areas will be targeted that will result in greater ease in conducting business within The Bahamas.
“Because time is money, the amount of time it has taken The Bahamas to respond to various investors (in the past) has likely cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars at minimum,” Prime Minister Minnis told a gathering of local representatives of Chambers of Commerce throughout The Bahamas.
“Easing the cost and time of doing business will help boost economic growth,” Dr. Minnis added.
Addressing the Opening Session of the National Conclave of Chambers of Commerce in The Bahamas, hosted by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation at Baha Mar resort, Prime Minister Minnis said much of the decline in the ease of doing business in The Bahamas is due to inertia.
That “inertia” experts say, has helped to allow The Bahamas to fall behind a number of its regional counterparts with regards to the ease of doing business.
A 2017 World Bank Doing Business Report, ranked The Bahamas 121 out of 190 global countries for its ease in doing business. The Ranking placed The Bahamas behind other regional countries such as Jamaica (67), St. Lucia (86), Trinidad and Tobago (96) and the Dominican Republic (103).
“Countries around us are rapidly instituting changes and simplifying processes to make it easier for businesses to operate,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
“But The Bahamas has been slow to modernize, slow to adapt to change, slow to introduce certain innovations, and slow to embrace various technologies. And we have been slow to adopt new mindsets.”
Prime Minister Minnis said his Administration will undertake a number of steps aimed at improving the country’s ranking in order to not only retain greater investor confidence in The Bahamas, but to also help boost the country’s economic growth.
In order to do that, the Minnis Administration will target three priority areas. Those areas include the business license process, the investor proposal process and various immigration processes, including work permits.
“We urgently need to simplify and streamline government processes, including the simplification of forms,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “Applicants are often asked to provide repetitive or unnecessary information.”
Prime Minister Minnis said he has advised the Minister responsible for Immigration “as a matter of urgency” to reduce the time it takes for an application or renewal to be processed.
“Getting a response from the Department of Immigration is often a nightmare. There has historically been a problem of public officers in Immigration wanting something for doing their job,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
“We are also undertaking other measures in Immigration that will be revealed at another time. Those who may not be acting in an appropriate manner should take note. It will not be business as usual.”
Prime Minister Minnis said the business license process will also be improved.
“In the age of advanced computer algorithms and Smart Technology, waiting weeks or even months for the processing of certain documents or approvals must be a thing of the past. The business license process takes too long and must be shortened. The inertia in the process must be removed,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
The Government will also move to bring “greater transparency” to the processes of doing business in The Bahamas.
“Transparency International and other agencies have documented the degree to which corrupt practices stymie economic growth and development,” Dr. Minnis said. “Corruption has cost The Bahamas untold hundreds of millions or more over the decades. Times have changed. A new sheriff is in town.”