By Elcott Coleby
On hand to encourage broad based private sector participation in crafting the country’s National Development Plan called VISION 2040, State Minister for Investment in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Khaalis Rolle, addressed stakeholders at a media briefing on Saturday at the Hilton to provide an update on the work of the NDP team led by Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle, the Director of Economic Development Planning.
“Even though this initiative started initially in the Office of The Prime Minister and was started by a government, one of the things we insisted on almost immediately was that we wanted to transfer this to the private sector. We wanted the citizens to be in charge of developing a national plan which will guide the country for the next twenty-five years” said Minister Rolle.
He told the media and civil society that sometimes as a country and a people, we look at national development through “political lens.” Some have observed and argued, said Rolle, that one of the reasons The Bahamas has not lived up to its potential was that “we are too politically focused.” He believes that minimizing the role of the politician in this national process is one way of ensuring that Bahamians get a firm understanding of where this country needs to go – free of the distractions of political clutter and din.
Referring to Singapore, Hong Kong and Ireland as models of success in the minds of many, Rolle opined that The Bahamas equals or exceeds any of those countries in talent and capability and pointed to the modern Bahamas as an example. After building many of the public institutions that make up the modern Bahamas, “we became activities focus and activities driven” where leaders prioritized short term political survival through narrowly scoped and focused political platforms, lacking the requisite “infrastructure to take the country forward on a medium or long term basis” said the State Minister for Investment.
“We are the best little country on God’s earth. We just have to now begin living that dream” he said.
A long term National Development Plan driven by the people, and in particular the private sector, can assist The Bahamas in realizing its full potential according to Rolle.
Commending and underscoring the significance of the work of the NDP Secretariat and Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle’s team specifically, the State Minister said that Dr. Rolle’s work “is probably some of the most important work this country will see in this generation.”
VISION 2040 was launched earlier this year at the College of The Bahamas by Prime Minister Christie with an initial grant of $450, 000 from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). To date the secretariat has completed phase one, the diagnostic phase of the plan, and has prepared a draft on the state of The Bahamas, addressing the core areas of social policy, governance, the environment, infrastructure and the economy.
The Sustainable Nassau Initiative (SNI) was officially launched by Prime Minister Christie on the 2nd September at the National Art Gallery to kick off phase two of the plan. Phase two will take the form of constructive engagement or a national conversation involving workshops, community meetings, online surveys, the arts, essay submissions and the promotion of VISION 2040 to stimulate greater public awareness and participation.
The secretariat expects to conclude this three phase national development plan by the first quarter of 2016.