Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham/ Prime Minister of the Bahamas
Nassau Bahamas – Noting written confirmation from the Secretary to the Cabinet that the former Progressive Liberal Party Cabinet did not appoint its announced Domestic Investment Board, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham reaffirmed to parliament that a Domestic Investment Board was never appointed and never met to consider and approve proposals submitted by members of the Public.
The former PLP government heavily touted this board as one that would empower Bahamians, but Wednesday former Minister responsible Vincent Peet failed to produce evidence to parliament that the board was in fact appointed by the then Cabinet of The Bahamas.
Below is the text of the Prime Miniter at Wednesday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.
THE PRIME MINISTER: Honourable Members will recall that the Honourable Member for North Andros and the Berry Islands did not accept my Answer to his question with respect to the Domestic Investment Board.
I wish to advise Honourable Members that following upon the exchange in this Place, I requested that a further response to the Member’s query be prepared.
I now wish to reaffirm my advice to Honourable Members that a Domestic Investment Board was never appointed and never met to consider and approve proposals submitted by members of the Public.
The 70-odd applications made by domestic investors to what the public had been led to believe was a Domestic Investment Board are being processed by relevant government Departments and Agencies as provided for in law.
I wish further to advise that the relevant Ministry’s files, the conclusions of Cabinet, as well as information provided to me by a member of the private sector, appointed in September, 2006 to what was termed a “Core Action Group”, confirm that a Domestic Investment Board was never appointed by the Christie-led Government.
The records of the Ministry are replete with the intention and plans for the establishment of a Board.
Indeed, a proposal fox the appointment of the Board was considered by the Cabinet in October, 2006. At that time the Cabinet determined that the structure proposed by the Ministry of Financial Services and Investments was beyond that anticipated by the Government.
The Cabinet “invited the Minister Responsible to further discuss the initiative to establish a Domestic Investment Board with the Prime Minister and the Minister of State for Finance and hence to revert with a revised proposal on the same.”
A number of additional meetings of the Advisory Group and the Core Action Group took place.
Whether the requested consultation between the Minister, the Prime Minister and the Minister of State for Finance took place, I do not know. The files are silent on the matter.
However draft Cabinet Papers are on file. None was perfected and the Minister never reverted to Cabinet on the matter. Consequentially, Cabinet never approved the appointment of a Domestic Investments Board.
As I have previously advised, the relevant files confirm the appointment of two consultants to the Domestic Investment Board, Further, an Advisory Action Group, which included a number of representatives from the Public and Private Sectors was also appointed.
The Advisory Board and the Consultants met on a number of occasions, beginning as early as March, 2006.
The Minister Responsible was in attendance at some but not all of the meetings. Discussions at the meetings, as reflected in Minutes, centred on strategies to promote and encourage domestic investment; modalities to assist domestic investors including recommendations on how to expedite consideration by relevant Departments of proposals received for consideration, an interest in identifying funding for small domestic investors, the design and preparation of a Domestic Investment Brochure and plans for a Domestic Investor Month scheduled for March, 2007.
It would appear that the lack of progress toward the establishment of the Board resulted in the appointment of the ‘Core Action Group’ to which I have referred, with a mandate to prioritize and expedite the objectives of a Domestic Investment Board.
In the absence of action by the Cabinet, it appears that public officers together with consultants engaged to advise the proposed Domestic Investment Board, farmed out applications received to the various Government agencies and for consideration as provided for in law.