Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. H.A. Ingraham, presented [Keynote Remarks](http://www.bahamas.gov.bs/bahamasweb2/home.nsf/c5d1826da66595d206256f03005e99f2/d72bc9c759160b7c8525781800581f00!OpenDocument) at the 2011 Bahamas Business Outlook hosted by The Counsellors Ltd. He took the opportunity to present an overview of “the state of the economy” and “prospects for the future”.
He said: *“I am pleased to advise that there is every expectation that 2011 will see marked improvement. We anticipate that our economy will grow between 2% and 2.5% this year.”* The Prime Minister said this expected turnaround will be a result of:
1. Increased inward direct investment resulting from a re-start of some stalled investment projects;
2. New investment inflows;
3. Significant scheduled public infrastructure investment inclusive of the continuation of the LPIA development, the largest public sector project undertaken ever in The Bahamas; the new Port at Arawak Cay and its associated works; massive infrastructural upgrades in New Providence; expanded health care infrastructure at Princess Margaret Hospital, the Rand Memorial Hospital and elsewhere; new ports and bridges in some Family Islands, and public sector office complexes notably in Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence;
4. Increase in visitor arrivals and spending; and
5. Growth in domestic credit with improving economic conditions domestically, leading to increased commercial and residential construction.
Based on the above, it is anticipated that unemployment will decrease this year but more significantly in 2012.
The Prime Minister also spoke to the theme of the BBO – Economic Diversification. While noting that The Bahamas has many of the primary (farming, fishing, and some mining), secondary (manufacturing) and tertiary (tourism and financial services) industries found in almost every country in the world, he said the services sector dominates the economy even more than they dominate most of the advanced and higher income developed economies.
He pointed out that the remarkable growth and development The Bahamas has achieved through services present huge opportunities for further integration of the $7.5 billion economy by adding value and exploiting natural resources. Most other economic activities do not offer any greater resilience than tourism, and given the continued potential for growth and diversification still provided by tourism activity, the Prime Minister felt it quite reasonable that this nation should continue to devote its scarce resources toward the maximizing of growth in this industry. *“We in the Government have long encouraged and promoted, through policy and incentive legislation, a deepening of the local value added to our tourism sector, specifically in the area of sourcing of goods and services,”* he said.
The Government continues to move aggressively to create a total environment in which business development and economic prospects can flourish. It has:
* Brought into force a new business Licence Act to streamline the process of doing business in the country;
* Repositioned our financial services sectors by partnering with the private sector to produce a new strategic framework for financial services going forward;
* Safeguarded the financial services sector from almost certain demise by successfully negotiating Tax Information Exchange Agreements that resulted in our being placed on the OECD/G-20 list of fully cooperative jurisdictions;
* Tabled new securities regulations to fully modernize our securities industry and to prepare the way for The Bahamas to become an IOSCO A-signatory country;
* Enacted new domestic and international insurance legislation to modernize our laws in relation to this sector;
* Incentivized the development of restaurants, entertainment facilities and other tourism-related amenities through duty-free provisions;
* Renewed focus in agriculture leading to the development of a five-year strategic plan and new agricultural developments in many parts of the country, most successfully to date in North Andros;
* Launched, with the Government of Singapore, a programme to implement comprehensive, fully integrated, 24/7 e-government services in The Bahamas beginning in July of this year; and
* Created a comprehensive legal framework for fully liberalized, globally competitive telecommunications to facilitate lower prices, improved services and greater economic empowerment for all, and to position our economy to produce more jobs and business profits through increased competitiveness.
The Prime Minister concluded, *“We continue to be focussed on strengthening our ability to promote growth and development of our economy through competitiveness, productivity and innovation. We remain fully persuaded that the gains that our nation has made over the decades through the grit and determination of our people can be surpassed by our present efforts provided we apply ourselves with great focus, unity and industry.”*