An Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) established by the Prime Minister of The Bahamas has developed strategic recommendations to inform the government’s policies to address the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
ERC Co-chair and CEO of Providence Advisors Limited, Kenwood Kerr, and a Non-Executive Director of Equity Bank Bahamas Limited, said that the Committee’s recommendations could have a significant impact on the nation’s economy.
“This report is the culmination of the efforts of dozens of Bahamians representing every major sector,” he said.
“Experts and non-expert engaged citizens volunteered hundreds of hours to help us chart the course for our economic recovery. Every sector in this country is impacted.”
ERC members met weekly as a general body and worked closely together on cross-functional teams divided into 10 sub-committees with a focus on different areas of the economy.
The sub-committees reviewed over 300 external recommendations submitted by members of the public and consulted with over 60 companies and organizations. The end-result of this process was the 163 recommendations organized under the four themes of Resiliency, Dynamism, Inclusivity, and Sustainability.
Under the theme of creating a more Resilient Economy, there is a recommendation to establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund and a separate National Infrastructure Fund underpinned by holdings of Crown land and government-owned real estate to mobilize capital for infrastructural and developmental initiatives. Recommendations of note under the Dynamic Economy theme focus on the promotion of invest- ment opportunities within The Bahamas, including significantly expanding access to capital for Bahamians, the creation of Special Economic Zones in underdeveloped islands, the expansion of duty concessions beyond tourism and manufacturing to support all local businesses in their start-up phase, and the creation of an Entrepreneur Visa to lay a foundation for local high-tech and FinTech opportunities.
The ERC also recommends a complete review of the tax burden on vulnerable segments of the local population to move towards a more progressive and equitable form of taxation, and the elimination of government red tape and bureaucracy to improve the ease of doing business.
The Inclusive Economy Recommendations call for significant investments to further extract the value from the creative economy. Other people-focused recommendations include training for Bahamian entrepreneurs to participate in the shared economy, the support of independent school boards and charter schools to improve educational outcomes, and the funding of pre-apprenticeship training for senior high school students.
The Sustainable Economy theme involves reforms to local energy policy and environmental conservation policies, the collection of revenues on trans-Caribbean cables in Bahamian waters and on ships that come into Bahamian ports on their way to other destinations, and improving the transparency for approvals on large developments.
The Report also identified components of the international financial sector that have great potential for growth including:
- Positioning The Bahamas as a World Family Office Hub. This would involve reforming immigration policy and processes to improve efficiency and expand options for investors; implementing a streamlined and clearly defined investment and regulatory framework; and tax policy review and reform and incentivize family offices that wish to establish in The Bahamas.
- Establishing The Bahamas as an International Commercial Arbitration Hub
- Leveraging linkages between Tourism and Financial Services
- Implementing an aircraft registry by becoming a signatory to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, CAPETOWN, 2001, and passing the required domestic laws.
Ivylyn Cassar, Equity’s Chairman, said The Bahamas is not alone in resetting its economy in the pandemic and post pandemic environments. “All countries face the same challenge,” she said. “As the second most important sector in the Bahamian economy, financial services will play a key role in creating the type of economic environment that the Report advocates. We support the Report’s themes of resiliency, dynamism, inclusivity and sustainability in resetting our economy because they are what drives the success the country’s financial services industry and have been proven to be the keys to our clients success.”
The full ERC report is available at www.opm.gov.bs.