Minister slams ‘lackadaisical’ investor compliance stance

ATTORNEY General Ryan Pinder. BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna

ATTORNEY General Ryan Pinder. BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna


Tribune Business Editor


A Cabinet minister yesterday slammed the Government’s “lackadaisical” efforts in ensuring investors live up to their Heads of Agreement obligations, adding: “There’s plenty of blame to go around.”

Ryan Pinder, the attorney general, told the Senate that both political parties had been too slack in ensuring developers fulfill their commitments as he confirmed plans to create a compliance unit within the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) to check-up on and enforce these obligations.

Asserting that the BIA and National Economic Council (NEC) had too often “operated in an ad hoc manner with a lack of transparency and predictable meetings and approvals” to the frustration of Bahamian and foreign investors alike, he pledged that the Davis administration will now seek to streamline the bureaucracy and red tape.

Besides granting approvals, Mr Pinder conceded that the Government must do more to get “shovels in the ground” and actual construction/development moving much more quickly given the track record of providing all necessary approvals and “for five years nothing happens”. He said such investments “must touch the Bahamian people in the quickest possible time”.

“As we know, a fundamental engine of our economy is foreign direct investment (FDI), not only for the purpose of advancing the economic development of our country and having a wider impact on Bahamians and employment and entrepreneurism, but also in support of our balance of payments and our foreign reserves,” Mr Pinder said.

“For those in the practice, I am sure they can confirm that for far too long the Government approval agencies, the Bahamas Investment Authority and primarily the National Economic Council of Cabinet, has operated in an ad hoc manner with a lack of transparency and predictable meetings and approvals.

“This has created unnecessary delays and concerns with respect to developers and inbound investment. This, unfortunately, has been the modus operandi for multiple administrations, but it had gotten worse in my opinion in the prior administration.”

Unable to resist taking a shot at the Minnis administration, Mr Pinder pledged that the Government will create “a more robust structure with greater compliance oversight, and more timely and transparent approval processes”. Part of this involves ensuring investors live up to their promises.

“Far too often, whether it be a matter of resources, staff or attention - maybe a combination of all - the Government of The Bahamas has been lackadaisical in enforcing the obligations that should be about empowering Bahamians,” he added. “There’s plenty of blame to go around.”

Hence the BIA’s new compliance unit, although its effectiveness remains to be seen. “The Cabinet has likewise agreed to a streamlined approval process whereby more innocuous applications can be addressed in-house with a report to Cabinet, while the material high investment decisions can be fast tracked to the National Economic Council,” Mr Pinder added.

“This is in fulfillment of our mandate to the Bahamian people to provide a framework for more expedited investment project approvals, which means that shovels in the ground and the impact to Bahamians is enhanced and expedited.” The latter reform, though, sounds eerily similar to the reforms proposed by the Minnis administration’s Economic Recovery Committee.

However, Mr Pinder said: “The Government can approve projects, but needs a mechanism to expedite getting shovels in the ground. It takes years to get an approval, and years after that approval to get a shovel in the ground.

“Far too often we may approve the best project in the world, and for five years nothing happens. The challenge is to get these investments to touch the Bahamian people in as fast a timeframe as possible.”

Darren Henfield, the Opposition’s leader in the Senate, backed Mr Pinder’s assertions that it “takes far too long to get these investments going” as well as ensure that developers honour their commitments to the Government and Bahamian people.

He argued that FDI investors should “prove” their suitability and financial capacity by investing in local communities via activities such as adopting local schools and providing scholarships “so Bahamians don’t look at you as an investor that extracts and takes from us and give us nothing but a job”.


tribanon 2 years, 2 months ago

Nothing but hot air out of Pinder's mouth. LMAO


regrolli 2 years, 2 months ago

Another proposal that will contribute to the ‘dis-ease’ of doing business. Start by fixing the justice system; first things first.


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