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Bahamian Firms ‘50% Lower’ Than Rivals For Jobs And Productivity

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Bahamian companies are “performing at 50 per cent or below productivity, growth and employment levels” when compared to firms in similar small economies, an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report has found.

The bank’s Caribbean Quarterly Bulletin, released yesterday, warned that the Bahamian private sector was “further away” from the top in the World Bank’s ‘ease of doing business’ rankings than their small economy rivals.

And it revealed that the Bahamas “leads the Caribbean” when it comes to economic losses from crime, estimating this at $434 million in sales or 5 per cent of GDP.

In what is likely to be perceived as another ‘wake-up call’ when it comes to creating a growth-friendly environment for Bahamian businesses, the IDB report said greater economic expansion was “the greatest challenge” facing the economy.

Noting that the private sector generated 60 per cent of Bahamian employment, the IDB Bulletin said: “It is dependent on a macroeconomic environment that promotes growth and technological innovation, cost competitiveness, and structures that ease the cost of doing business.

“Bahamian private sector firms have been performing at 50 per cent or below productivity, growth and employment levels when compared to similar firms in the rest of small economies (ROSE). This results in constrained levels of labour productivity and output growth in the archipelago, and against regional neighbours.”

IDB data showed that labour productivity in the Bahamas had declined between 1991 and 2005, with per capita GDP also down.

“The [World Bank] ease of doing business index, which compares the period between 2017 and 2010, shows that the Bahamas’ private sector is constrained by structural challenges, including accessing credit and electricity, trading across borders, obtaining construction permits, resolving insolvency and paying taxes,” the IDB report said.

“Against other [small] economies, the private sector is hampered in registering property, getting electricity, obtaining credit, protecting minority investors, trading across borders, getting construction permits and starting a business.”

Identifying the major concerns of Bahamian companies, the IDB report said these included “an inadequately trained workforce; access and cost of finance; costs of crime, theft and general disorder; and the current state of macroeconomic conditions and conditions of governance”.

It continued: “The cost of crime, theft and disorder has accounted for an annual sales loss of up to 5 per cent, leading the Caribbean in economic losses.

“A recent World Bank/International Finance Corporation (IFC) survey reports that up to 40 per cent of Bahamian firms have reported being victims of crime within the last 12 months, while almost 8 per cent lamented crime being a significant obstacle to productivity growth.”

Other obstacles cited by the IDB report were lending rates that had risen to 11.2 per cent, exacerbating problems caused by low consumer demand, high unemployment and high non-performing loan levels.

The cost and unreliability of power were also fingered by Bahamian companies, with the average of 2.2 outages per month only exceeded by Jamaica.

“The archipelago, in comparison to its Caribbean neighbours, spends more on its educational system (roughly 13 per cent), and currently has over 250 schools, supported by well-trained staff,” the IDB report said.

“Despite this, recent reports from the Vision 2040 report on national development cites that significant portions of the graduating classes are entering the workplace with inadequate numeracy and literacy skills.

“Thirty-two per cent of firms lament the inadequacy of the existing workforce in the 2014 Compete Caribbean PROTEqIN survey, and up to 37 per cent of firms offer additional training to their recruited staff.”

It added: “The private sector is dependent on a growth-positive environment that improves cost competitiveness and makes it easy for enterprises to engage in business.

“Achieving a higher growth trajectory is the greatest challenge the Bahamian economy faces. Negative productivity growth and limited contributions from factor inputs (capital and labour) since 2000 have constrained the country’s potential output.

“Unlocking higher growth and enabling this change in an environment of fiscal consolidation is a major challenge for 2017 and beyond.”

Comments

Economist 4 years, 9 months ago

Yes, the wonders of protectionist Bahamas Immigration policy!

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The_Oracle 4 years, 9 months ago

Actually, it is Bahamian parents who have failed their children first and foremost. The knock on effect is failure in the school structure, exacerbated by overcrowding, malnutrition, lack of self discipline in both children and teachers. Children are very perceptive, you may con them once but not twice. I will add most are not challenged by school "learning by rote" norms. They are bored, a typical result of state education. It is a vicious cycle between teachers and students, as the students get through grade after grade empty handed, teachers left with little job satisfaction. The negative effects on the economy are inevitable and irrecoverable for current generations.

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banker 4 years, 9 months ago

What they pay teachers is outrageously low. Teachers are the bedrock of a nations progress because they train the people of the future.

As a favour to his mother, I recently dropped off my nephew to his school. I was blown away by the teacher who could not speak proper English. In addition, I looked at his school work. The kids are not taught to think, but rather to work by rote -- in all subjects. It is so backwards and unsuitable for a society where the ones who do best economically are those fluent in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). We don't do anything to prepare our children for knowledge-intensive work. We need a complete modernisation of the education system.

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Porcupine 4 years, 9 months ago

Could there be a worse synopses of our country? Only if you can't read, I suppose. This is one of the saddest stories of all time. A true indictment of the country as a whole. An entire country based on graft, corruption, theft, poor job performance and a thorough lack of giving a shit. Basically, this report is telling you that if you have the money for a plane ticket, you should leave, cause it ain't getting any better. Unless, of course you are are a rich permanent resident in a gated community who doesn't rely on this economy, or care about this society, or the welfare of the citizens.

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The_Oracle 4 years, 9 months ago

Banker, to your point, teachers cannot teach what they themselves do not know.

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Chucky 4 years, 9 months ago

do you really think that teachers want to come here. Teachers are like all other expats, the ones who come are looking to party. Almost none of the expats are top in their field. If you were a teacher, making a proper salary in your country, would you want to come here for 100k a year? Not a chance, not when they can live in safety and security, a comfortable house, and have decent kids to teach in their own country.
The only one's willing to come , are the one's who don't fit at home. We can't pay enough to get good people to live in this environment!

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happyfly 4 years ago

Problem is that the average Bahamian who does go to work and do a good job can not afford to feed her family or pay his mortgage or put gas in their car to get to work. The next problem is how the hell is the government supposed to fix that ? In USA the president tells the people he is going to give the rich a ton of money and that the middle class and poor will benefit as all the profits trickle down. LOL. We got any Republicans base here ?

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