**Hon. Zhivargo Laing
Minister of State for Finance**

Minister Laing says the Bahamian economy continues on a robust growth path as indicated by latest reports from the Central Bank of The Bahamas. *”According to Central Bank statistics, foreign direct investment inflows to The Bahamas in the first six months of last year totalled $279.1 million compared to $351.7 million this year.”* This means that foreign direct investment inflow in the first half of this year was 26 percent higher than for the same period last year.

The Central Bank has reported that the Bahamian economy continues to grow at a rate of 3.0 percent, but somewhat moderated compared to the same period last year. The Minister points out that it cannot be a decline in foreign investment inflows that has contributed to any economic slow down that might have occurred this year compared to last year. Instead, he cites a number of factors which could impact the Bahamian economy. Firstly, the slow down in the US economy; secondly a substantial decline in domestic credit expansion in The Bahamas of between six and eight percent; thirdly, a slowdown in tourism arrivals and spending; and a substantial increase in oil prices. On the last, he said *“The significant increase in oil prices has increased our import bill, general prices, impacted negatively on foreign reserves and thus likely, impacted on the growth of the economy.”*

The moderated growth report is supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but the Minister emphasises the projections for increased growth to 4% next year, *”a prospect the IMF also supports.”*

He added: *“We in this administration continue to be vigilant in observing both international and national events that influence our economic prospects and will continue to do so in order to ensure the best interests of our people.”*