Govt. committee announces seven weeks of public engagement
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Economic Recovery Committee’s plan to engage in a seven-weeks long consultative process was dubbed a “wasted academic exercise” yesterday.
In a statement, the 14-member ERC announced the start of public and stakeholder engagement via direct meetings, virtual town hall meetings and presentations with its subcommittees.
Progressive Liberal Party think tank, the National Progressive Institute (NPI), questioned whether the committee’s efforts are an attempt to recreate the country’s National Development Plan.
The plan was completed under the former PLP administration following a widespread consultative process.
“The approach seems to be redundant and more spinning of wheels,” read an NPI statement.
“More concerning, there seems to be little or no focus on the immediate and pressing economic realities of The Bahamas today.
“We need immediate measures to put people back to work and to stimulate the economy. The focus of the Committee seems to be long term and structural and does not address the economic hell we find ourselves in now.”
The ERC was announced back in April, and is being led by acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson and businessman Ken Kerr of Providence Advisors.
“The Prime Minister requested the ERC provide specific policy ideas that are tailored made for the key sectors under our mandate,” said Kerr in a statement.
‘The PM challenged us to put together recommendations that will represent a bold vision for a modern Bahamian economy – that is stronger, resilient, diversified, future driven and fully integrated. A Bahamas with robust free enterprise, entrepreneurial opportunities, highly skilled labor, adequate job opportunities, and sufficient social safely protection mechanisms for the disadvantaged and marginalized.”
According to the committee, the new Bahamian economy is envisioned as one which is “resilient, dynamic, inclusive, and sustainable”.
Resilience speaks to strategies that would enable a quick recovery after economic shocks, and sizable national savings to smooth out economic downturns.
For the committee, dynamism is anchored in innovation and the embracing of technology, employing strategies for growth and improved ease of doing business.
The inclusive economy is built on equal opportunity, broad-based Bahamian ownership and the appropriate valuing of all spheres of productive human endeavor.
Lastly, the Committee describes the sustainable economy as one that one that provides safeguards which protect the physical environment from degradation and destruction; invests in human, cultural and social capital; cultivates and builds inter-generational wealth, and proactively promotes business continuity.
“Our scope is broad, but it is also well defined,” said co-chairperson, Marlon Johnson.
“We will be taking the time to explain it to the Bahamian people so we can maximize everyone’s participation as we chart a way forward for our economic recovery.”
Johnson said: “With our sub-committee structure, we have created a simple entry point for the public to engage with us, and to provide their feedback and recommendations. These sub-committees will also have additional persons appointed to them from the broader Bahamian civil society.”
ERC sub-committees include: Structural Reform; Financial Services; Digitization & The Conceptual Economy; Tourism & The Orange Economy; Healthcare and Social Capital; Commerce, Entrepreneurship, and Next Generation (Youth) Engagement; Agriculture, Fisheries and Manufacturing; Family Islands Development; Energy and Environmental Stewardship; and Labour and Education.
For its part, the NPI called on the committee to produce a plan to repose confidence in the economy.
The think tank underscored immediate needs for jobs and foreign currency, and answers on how the government will spur economic activity to keep the country afloat in the short-term.
“The long term focus five years down the road means nothing if we cannot get through the present nightmare,” the NPI stated.
“The Government seems devoid of a sound economic plan. If your mandate is to recreate the work done under the National Development Plan, then you do your country a disservice.”