Addressing the [2016 Bahamas Business Outlook](http://www.tclevents.com/) today, The Rt. Hon. P.G. Christie, M.P., Prime Minister of The Bahamas, spoke to the event’s theme, noting that indeed the next twenty-five years for The Bahamas will see *”a bold agenda”*, *”a coordinated agenda”* and *”a clear agenda”* through comprehensive national planning to ensure a bright future.
He noted that The Bahamas – like the entire world – has had to make its adjustments over the years, and particularly since the global economic crash of 2008. *“We have had to pull our boot straps up, make painful and hard decisions on reforms to build towards a better future; to implement structural reform; and to focus on policy actions which touch the everyday lives of our people.”* He listed some of these as:
* Tax reform and austerity measures to secure public finances;
* National Health Insurance to secure our people from the financial ruin that comes from sickness or the productivity losses that come from not having access to preventative healthcare;
* Reforms to put in place a credit bureau system to ensure that our banks can make wiser credit decisions and to provide incentives for more responsible credit behavior by customers;
* Financial services regulatory reform which sought to ensure that our Financial Centre operated within internationally agreed standards;
* Gaming reform, which ensured that businesses which had been continuing for decades under the radar, un-taxed and un-regulated – could be brought out to the light and regulated;
* Education reform which seeks to put in place higher standards for graduates in our public schools;
* Developing a National Training agency to ensure that our school leavers have basic training to prepare them for work; and
* Social services reform – which seeks to ensure that we can better provide for our brothers and sisters in need; and
* Public/private partnerships which relieves the burden on the public purse in pursuing essential infrastructure, economic and social projects.
Notwithstanding a return to normalcy in foreign direct investment and tourism earnings, the Prime Minister contended that the economic prognosis for The Bahamas – similar to the rest of the Caribbean – reflects subdued growth this year and over the next two years. It is anticipated that real GDP growth in this calendar year will be 1.5% with only a slightly elevated growth level expected next year. He said a subdued growth target limits the amount of revenue the Government can expect for the buoyancy of the economy, but noted that the ongoing E-Government initiative and the target of having 50% of the Government’s revenue collected either on-line or through the banking system by end of year should have a positive impact on Government revenues.
Recapping tourism successes and FDI projects throughout The Bahamas, the Prime Minister said these, taken together with the Government’s capital development programme, represent significant new jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. The Bold Agenda of the future – looking towards 2040 – sees a major difference going forward however, he said, with a strategic action plan to guide public and private decision making – i.e., the National Development Plan. *”As we all know, having a plan of action reduces uncertainty. We, as a people, will understand the roadmap – where we are going. We will see, collectively, the path towards regaining our strength as a country in this uncertain world in terms of our economy, our governance arrangements, our social policy and our environment and infrastructure.”*
Key tenets of the “Bold Agenda” for The Bahamas, to be enshrined within the Plan include:
**Building an Economy which is resilient, modern, vibrant and diverse** – ongoing tourism growth; continued investment and development opportunities in the existing mature island economies and in emerging islands such as South Andros, Cat Island, Long Island, Inagua and Mayaguana; agricultural expansion – all resulting in employment in high growth sectors.
**Social Policy** – reversal of under investment in innovative, social and educational programmes and public policies that are inadequate in countering negative attitudinal and behavioral tendencies among our young people. This will include higher education opportunities, universal access to high quality health care, and containment of crime.
**Environment and Infrastructure** – Through the provision of secure and reliable energy at lowered cost, and modernized water, sanitation and waste disposal systems, residents across the archipelago can in 2040 experience significant improvements in the quality of life as well as greater disposable incomes.
Prime Minister Christie acknowledged that “The Path to 2040” must be carefully guided, noting that it will require an experienced and committed government and a collective spirit of faith, hope, unity and optimism on the part of the citizenry for any administration to transform the challenges. He called for a commitment to work together – *”I ask each and every one of you here today, and in our communities throughout the length and breadth of this nation to work with us to meet the challenge, and also, to individually do our part. I ask that each and every one of us, make this commitment, as we must now, more than ever, demonstrate that we are indeed our brother’s keeper if we are to achieve the levels of sustainable growth and individual self-determination that we desire for ourselves, and that is our destiny over the next 25 years. Let us together, be jointly committed to this vision for the development of our great country.”*