NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Efforts toward economic recovery must be rooted in a national development plan, according to a former investment minister.
Khaalis Rolle, the former Minister of State for Investments under the former Christie administration, told Eyewitness News: “You can’t have one without the other”.
“The blueprint is there,” he continued.
“When we started the national development plan it was supposed to be a phased approach. It was supposed to be this economic recovery plan which would feed into a national development plan and then we realized that we didn’t have sufficient information to make economic recovery decisions without having a broader research mandate.
“We had to do a 180 and complete the national plan first. There were so many factors that drive economic development and unless you research those and understand the inputs to all of them you will still come up with underdeveloped ideas and tactics.”
Rolle said: “I recognized years ago that you cannot have an economic recovery plan without a national development plan. You can’t have one without the other.”
Labeled ‘Vision 2040’, the plan crafted under the former Christie administration and represented a coordinated effort to plan the country’s development in a systematic manner using empirical data and analyses, with collaboration from the private sector and civil society.
The plan set out a road map with goals and objectives for The Bahamas to attain and focused on four main policy pillars – the economy, governance, social policy, and the environment, both natural and built.
“It’s not a perfect plan and was not meant to be perfect,” Rolle said.
“It was meant to be an honest assessment of where we are. We did a state-of-the-nation report and told the nation where we were in business, education, public service, crime, and where we were generally.
He said: “That was thousands of pages of research. We used that information to develop the national plan. The plan wasn’t exhaustive and was meant to be a living document that is adjusted as we get more information. It’s unfortunate that we allowed that process to die.
“That’s the downside of governance and I criticize all governments for it. Continuity in governance is important.”
Rolle said: “If we are going to develop as a nation we can’t simply dismiss things because it was done under a PLP or FNM administration.
“The best ideas should be sustainable and we need mature minds to understand that. I was very disappointed that the work of thousands of Bahamians is languishing. The government cannot dig us out of the hole we are in unless there is a well-coordinated, well researched, and managed to governance through a finely crafted plan.
“I’m saying this as a Bahamian and businessman first. I believe in a practical and sustainable approach. We can’t solve minor problems because we don’t take an organized approach to it. No one government is responsible for that. This is years of neglect and years of short term decision making that has put us where we are no wand we will continue the downward spiral unless we take a long term view to national development.”
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis appointed the Economic Recovery Committee earlier this year and charged it with providing actionable recommendations to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on The Bahamas.
The committee which was co-chaired by Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson and financial services veteran Kenwood Kerr has submitted its 163 recommendations to Cabinet.
Minnis said the report will be made public.