The Bahamas economy is by any reasonable measure underperforming relative to its full potential, due in part to strong headwinds adversely affecting traditional sources of economic growth within the country, reports the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG).
ORG Executive Director Matthew Aubrey was the guest speaker at the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce’s (GBCC) monthly business meeting on Wednesday (April 26) at the Canal House, Pelican Bay Hotel.
ORG, Aubrey explained, is a not-for-profit civic foundation committed to realizing a brighter future by creating dialogue, insights, and solutions around the challenges affecting: accountable governance, education reform and economic development in The Bahamas. “We are a non-political consensus group,” added the Executive Director.
Aubrey supplied, prior to his address to the GBCC members, the results and conclusions of a study commissioned to examine creative economic development solutions and strategies for economic growth in the Bahamas, undertaken by Oxford Economics, one of the world’s foremost independent global advisory firms.
The survey notes the Real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita is lower today than it was in 2000, and that without significant economic development reforms, there is no forecast of any noteworthy improvement through to 2020.
The study focused on three sectors selected by ORG that show potential to contribute more significantly to the national economy, yet are underrepresented in current policy discussions. The sectors were: Manufacturing and Agriculture; Tourism; and Logistics.
The aim of the study was to identify new and achievable strategies for promoting growth in each of the three sectors. This was undertaken by, Oxford Economics interviewing experts and business leaders from each of the three sectors. The report found many of those interviewed expressed a lack of confidence in the Bahamas’ economic future. In addition those interviewed were able to identify specific policy recommendations that they believed would help inspire confidence and investment.
The report proposes strategies, policies and investments in each of the sectors, which would encourage the development of those sectors and create a positive impact on the Bahamian economy at large.
ORG released a press statement relating to the Oxford Economic survey in which it stated: “In agriculture and light manufacturing, the report states that while production for export might be premature, supporting a thriving local market through reducing high energy costs, lowering interest rates, resolving constraints on purchasing crown land, and providing incentives for hotels and tourism operators to buy local.
“The report shows that if only 10 percent of spending on imports is shifted to local products through these measures it could inject $22 million back into the economy and Bahamian-owned businesses. Similarly, through supporting inter-island logistics and seizing break-bulk opportunities an additional $7 million of output could be created.”
ORG also stated in its press release that smaller scale tourism presents opportunities for local ownership and foreign direct investment through boutique tourism and short term rentals like Airbnb, which could generate an additional $10 million in GDP (Gross Domestic Product), without interfering with existing hotel rooms.
Robert Myers, ORG’s Council Chairperson stated in the press release that, “There are important links between economic diversity and sustainable development. Increasing the number of viable opportunities across many sectors insulates the Bahamas from shocks, creating a more stable economic environment and encouraging growth.”
Myers furthered that the research suggests that the adoption or adaptation of strategies suggested in the report will go a long way towards improving investor, business and consumer confidence in The Bahamas and create an environment where prosperity and opportunity are attainable for all.
ORG, Myers acknowledged that these recommendations be a starting point to adapt policies and practices that begin to address the economic stagnation that the country has seen over the past decade.