Economic Recovery Committee set to deliver final report in early September

Economic Recovery Committee set to deliver final report in early September
Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) has reported that substantial efforts are well underway to design a plan to guide the government’s strategy for restoration and recovery.

The committee was appointed and charged by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis to provide actionable recommendations to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on The Bahamas.

According to a recent statement, the ERC will present its policy recommendations and findings in a final report to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet by early September 2020.

It is co-chaired by Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson, financial services veteran Kenwood Kerr, and other local economic thought leaders.

“We accept the Prime Minister’s charge that these new realities, characterized by so much uncertainty, demand new and innovative approaches to shaping our post-COVID society,” said Johnson.

“Our goal is to provide recommendations that build a resilient and dynamic Bahamian economy that spurs inclusive growth and allows businesses across sectors to emerge from the pandemic stronger than before.”

In May, the ERC announced that its sweeping mandate to restore the macroeconomy would be shouldered by sub-committees to allow for greater concentration on the key sectors.

It has since established ten sub-committees with broader memberships to examine the full range of key issues and economic and social segments.  These subcommittees will present insights and recommendations on the blue, orange and green economies; digital and conceptual economies; Family Island development, and the manufacturing and trade sectors.

On June 12, the Agriculture, Fisheries & Manufacturing subcommittee met virtually with the Minister of Agriculture and his team to discuss prospects for the agriculture and fisheries industry, while the Health & Social Capital subcommittee met with a prominent wellness consultant to discuss health and wellness programs for Bahamians.

The Structural Reform subcommittee hosted a presentation from Professor Avinash Persaud, Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Barbados for Investment and Financial Services. Professor Persaud presented on economic stabilization, which is a key element of the structural reform’s subcommittee scope.

The sub-committees are also mining all available industry data and leveraging existing government plans – including the National Development Plan and the proposal of the National Economic Advisory Council – to deliver solutions to immediate challenges and long-term strategies to create a business environment that is globally competitive and affords easier access to land, credit and public services.

In developing its robust and dynamic policies, the subcommittees are focusing on key structural and development areas ranging from expanding and strengthening social programs across the breadth and width of The Bahamas, to creating and promoting a sustainable health care system. In addition, special focus is being given to existing structural impediments, including, but not limited to, the policy framework for the approval process for both domestic and foreign investment, tax reform, and the ease of doing business.

The ERC is seeking to address energy reform, in particular climate resiliency and utility deregulation, as well as issues related to food security and sustainability, and the comprehensive development of the Family Islands.

The Tourism & Orange subcommittee is exploring ways to ensure the safe and sound resumption of tourism activity, including expanding the ways in which Bahamians can enter this industry for investment purposes through the vacation rental market.

The subcommittee is finalizing a plan for the full activation of the “Orange Economy”, to showcase that art, craft and Bahamian culture can truly set apart the Bahamian experience and allow the country’s artists and artisans to maximize opportunities on a global scale.

ERC co-chair Ken Kerr said: “We are at a critical juncture in The Bahamas, where we must embrace the opportunity to redefine and shape a new economy and future for Bahamians for generations to come.  But it cannot be business as usual.

“We need sustained and robust economic growth to maintain and improve the standard of living of all Bahamians.   To do so will require us to do things and approach things in very different ways that may buck much of the conventional wisdom and prevailing narratives to which we have grown accustomed.”