Planning is essential for the future development of The Bahamas

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The Bahamas Chapter of the Caribbean Growth Forum organised by The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce & Employers Federation and CGF partners the (Compete Caribbean/Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, and the Caribbean Development Bank in collaboration with the United Kingdom Agency for Development and the Canadian International Development Agency) was held at Breezes, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Sitting in front from left: Country Representative, Inter-American Development Bank, Astrid Wynter; Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie; Minister of State for Investments, Office of The Prime Minister, the Hon. Khaalis Rolle. Standing from left: Chief Economist, Caribbean Development Bank, Carl Howell; CGF Coordinator, World Bank, Andrea Gallina; Regional Economic Advisor, Caribbean Country Development, IDB, Inder Jit Ruprah.

NASSAU, Bahamas — Planning is essential when looking to the future development of The Bahamas, and every decision made for the country should be thoroughly thought out, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said at the Bahamas Chapter of the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF) held at Breezes, Thursday, April 4, 2013.

The Forum was organised by The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce & Employers Federation and CGF partners (the Complete Caribbean/Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Caribbean Development Bank in collaboration with the United Kingdom Agency for Development and the Canadian International Development Agency).

Shareholders and stakeholders from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society, as well as the Caribbean Diaspora participated in the forum.

Prime Minister Christie explained that he suspects some governments and some government leaders because of insecurity or political arrogance make horrendous mistakes by attributing to themselves all knowledge.

“Therefore, you who could help and contribute are helpless, because in our structure of governance you do not have access, either through universities or through the consultative process, because some people do not believe in consultation. They know best and they are empowered because people elected them.”

As a result, he noted that the forum would be important to the future of the country, as delegates identify practical and implementable solutions that inspire action that will lead to the nation’s further development.

Moreover, the Prime Minister said forums such as the CGF will allow stakeholders to become more involved in the planning process, so that visions for the future will not keep altering based on the wishes and beliefs of strong willed government leaders without regard for their input.

“You are going to arrive at an understanding of how you think we (the government) should proceed and you are going to be involved in a public process, building the clear case for the political leaders to know people are being empowered through knowledge.”

He added, “Through that empowerment we are going to be more regulated in terms of even our vision because we now have access to people who are going to take these ideas and develop them further.”

Prime Minister Christie also pointed out that the agencies in the Caribbean, which exist to provide financial aid and grants should also feel empowered to give advice to governments.

“What is the purpose of having institutions in the Caribbean that have access to governments and they see the mistakes governments make, somewhere along the line, they must not be politically insecure as a financing agency not to be able to say to the government that Barbados, Jamaica, or Grenada or St. Lucia or St. Kitts tried the same thing and it did not work.”

He told the delegates that when planning for the future of The Bahamas, they must keep in mind that the country is special because its population is spread over 100,000 square miles on different islands, and so the planning process will differ from that of other Caribbean nations.

Edison Sumner, C.E.O. Bahamas Chamber of Commerce & Employers’ Federation said the objectives of the CGF is to focus primarily on growth and the capacity building to generate jobs and opportunities for all citizens of the Caribbean.

Mr. Sumner said, “The concept for developing a national plan for The Bahamas is long overdue, but is certainly very timely as we celebrate the country’s 40th Anniversary of Independence.”

He said the plan would help to guide the nation’s development for the next 40 to 50 years.

Mr. Sumner also explained that the issues to be discussed during the forum will centre around what is considered to be some of the key factors that have the greatest potential to increase growth, strengthen the investment climate, improve education and develop skills and capacity that improve competitiveness.

“Without being reactive, we trust that cost-cutting issues such as the cost of energy and the study of alternative energy sources find a place somewhere in our deliberations as the Chamber is genuinely concerned about this particular cost of doing business and recognises this as being one of the key impediments to sustainability and growth not just for domestic businesses but also in attracting foreign-direct investments as well.

Mr. Sumner said, “With this in mind, we are eager to advance discussion and dialogue on a progressive energy policy for The Bahamas.”