PM: Govt. to “accelerate” implementation of sovereign wealth fund

PM: Govt. to “accelerate” implementation of sovereign wealth fund
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis delivers his New Year’s national address on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. (BIS PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government intends to “accelerate” the implementation of a sovereign wealth fund, according to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

Minnis, who was addressing the Bahamas Business Outlook (BBO) conference, stated: “I am happy to advise that we intend to accelerate the implementation of a sovereign wealth fund, another recommendation of the Economic Recovery Committee.

“IThe government has already executed a legal review of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Act of 2016, with a view to enhancing the provisions of the legislation.”

According to Minnis, the proposed legislative changes “fully embrace the Santiago Principles, which are international best practices designed to address concerns by investors and regulators about transparency, accountability and the governance structure of such funds”.

“Countries typically look to form a sovereign wealth fund to manage and invest excess cash from royalties and budgetary surpluses. While The Bahamas is not yet at that point in our development, we appreciate that we have valuable land and other natural resource assets,” Minnis said.

“We also recognize that the country needs an independent, non-partisan, transparent, accountable entity to manage some of our most valuable land and our precious natural assets for the benefit of the Bahamian people. Such oversight may help to reduce corruption by public officials.”

The prime minister further noted that the sovereign wealth fund will also likely manage a special sub-fund that will be dedicated to expanding critical infrastructure throughout The Bahamas, especially on the Family Islands.

“To maximize the potential of our Family Islands, critical transportation, healthcare, education, heritage, cultural, commercial and power infrastructure must be built, and built to world-class standards,” said Minnis.

“In the face of climate changes, such infrastructure must be resilient. This National Infrastructure Fund will mobilize public and private capital, from local and international sources, to be deployed in the true spirit of public-private partnerships (PPP) to meet the estimated $2 billion in infrastructure development needs throughout our extensive archipelago.

“The Sovereign Wealth Fund and the accompanying National Infrastructure Fund will transform the way in which we approach the development of our country. These funds will enshrine accountable and transparent means for Bahamians to ensure that our national assets are deployed and developed for the benefit of the entire country.”