By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
KEY stakeholders from the private and public sector and society at large are expected to begin dialogue today on ways to enhance productivity and economic growth in The Bahamas at the launch of The Bahamas chapter of the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF).
The initiative is supported by Compete Caribbean which is a $40 million programme jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, The Canadian International Development Agency and the United Kingdom Department of International Development (DFID). The Caribbean Growth Forum aims to facilitate a platform for public and private sector dialogue around the growth challenges with a view to identifying practical and implementable solutions that will inspire action in each of the 15 Caribbean territories. “This forum sets a platform for dialogue. If you recall what we did in September of 2012 was to talk with the private sector about some of the initiatives and activities the government can assist with to improve their businesses, the way they do business, the quality of business being done and their ability to expand their business,” said Minister for Investments Khaalis Rolle.
“In The Bahamas we have an extraordinary challenge in this economy. From my perspective the only way we are going to help the economy rebound is through well structured a well organised approach to economic recovery,” said Mr Rolle.
Astrid Wynter, country representative for the IDB (Bahamas) said: “The forum really is to facilitate a developing and action orientated dialogue among key stakeholders, the public and privet sector. We are also inviting academics and civil society groups and persons from the Caribbean diaspora. Basically we are looking at a broad cross section of those who have an interest in building and strengthening the Bahamian economy. Three topics have been selected by the forum, three topics which each national forum will focus on and that’s based on an analysis of the biggest constraints that our countries face at the moment. They are investment climate, skills and productivity as well as logistics and connectivity. It’s a process, not really an event.”
Carl Howell, chief economist at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said: “The bank has just concluded discussions with The Bahamas in relation to a new country system strategy and we believe that there are core elements in there that could line up very nicely with the work of the growth forum in pushing the growth agenda in The Bahamas. We believe that some good policies could emanate from the three focus groups we have organised and we are extremely hopeful that in the next year and beyond we can assist with The Bahamas and ensure that we lend Bahamas robust support in driving growth and development in the country.”
Inder Ruprah, regional economic advisor, Caribbean Country department (IDB) said that it was important for The Bahamas to increase its productivity and sustain its economic growth rate.
“I think since the global economic crisis it has become clear that The Bahamas has to increase its growth rate and with that growth rate it has to have the ability to generate good paying jobs for its people and therefore improve the welfare of its citizens. The economy hasn’t recovered fully and so this leads to the country having to rethink its strategy. Doing the same as it is has done in the past is not good enough and this is an opportunity for the public and private sector to come together and look for common solutions to enhance the country’s productivity and growth rate. I think the urgency of finding a solution and increasing the productivity and sustaining the growth rate is very important,” said Mr Ruprah.