It’s time that the Bahamas grew up. If we want to be a big player like Singapore on the world stage and if we want to be in the First World category, then we need to embrace immigration for investment and development purposes. For far too long, the amazing potential of the Bahamas has been choked by oppressive, repressive, discriminatory and abusive immigration policies.
I support the government 100% in this initiative. In fact, I don’t think the government is going far enough. It should amend the Commercial Enterprises Act (CEA) to insert the Hawksbill Creek Agreement as a category in addition to tech hub industry promotion initiatives, as Freeport was designed to be a cradle of innovation for the benefit of the entire country.
It was short-sighted, abusive immigration policies that stifled Freeport in 1969 and the Magic City, the goose that was laying the golden egg, nearly died.
As the government is now seriously promoting GB as a tech hub once again, the CEA needs to apply to all licensees of Freeport.
This would resurrect the economy of Grand Bahama, and by extension the whole country.
If the Bahamas wants to be in the big boys’ club, we need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot with these closed-minded and fearful protectionist policies and liberalize immigration dramatically, especially in Freeport, which the government could use as an experiment.
Attracting the best and the brightest to our shores would create amazing transfers of cutting edge skills to our people and lead to an explosion of economic activity, which would benefit all Bahamians.
Ironically, we bring five million people here a year yet we make it almost impossible for them to come back to invest with all the red tape and especially immigration hurdles.
If we want to grow, we have to roll out the red carpet and roll up the red tape.
Frederick Smith, QC,
Rights Bahamas legal director on the Immigration Amendment Bill