Extended visa program only a short-term fix, says banker

Extended visa program only a short-term fix, says banker
Gregory Pepin, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Deltec Bank & Trust Limited

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The proposed extended stay visa program is a short-term solution that could be developed for greater long-term economic growth, a senior banker said yesterday.

The recommendation for the introduction of an extended stay visa programme, which has been approved by Cabinet that, will allow individuals to work or study from The Bahamas for a year.

The Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) made the recommendation for the Extended Stay Visa Programme recommendation.

It is a revamp of the country’s annual residency scheme.

While addressing a Bahamas Business Outlook webinar, Gregory Pepin, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Deltec Bank said: “It’s a good thing in one way because it’s going to get people to come with resources and money, but it’s a short term solution.

“That is not necessarily going to help the long-term growth of the country.

“It would be good if we could combine that sort of visa with the ability to come here and establish local businesses or give them incentives to work with local businesses.

“A glimpse of The Bahamas can turn into an opportunity, otherwise, it would just be a source of revenue and in a year or two they will just go away.”

Still, Pepin noted that the programme did not represent innovation, but rather re-marketing.

“That’s not innovation, that’s re-marketing,” he said.

“That is not how you are going to help SMEs grow or the economy grow. People are still waiting, SMEs are dying, the economy is dying. Fiscal policies are great when you have a government that knows how to manage money.”

Rupert Pinder, an economist and University of the Bahamas lecturer said: “That is not a needle mover in the context of what we are dealing with as a result of this downturn in the economy.”

Robbyn Thompson, a local entrepreneur and economist lecturer at the University of the Bahamas, said: “Even before the pandemic, I don’t think the government has been doing enough in terms of properly recognizing the needs of its people and providing a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

“Our political leaders are often times the economic leaders of the country and as the decision-makers, they tend to pursue and protect their interests which leads to a widening of the gap; that is the rich getting richer and the poor become poorer. We need specific policies to address specific needs.”