The state of the Bahamian economy is a topic of increasing concern for the people and businesses of The Bahamas and the institutions that study and evaluate our economic activity. International credit rating agencies have continuously expressed concern with a lack of action to address systemic economic issues and as a result, in August 2016 Moody’s Investor Services downgraded the Bahamian Government’s credit rating to Baa2 – “junk status” – due to the country’s “low growth prospects”. The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG), as a non-profit, nonpartisan, civic foundation committed to improving the core socio-economic drivers of The Bahamas, believes that a major step toward strengthening the economy lies in broadening the economic portfolio, education reform and improving government accountability, transparency and efficiency.
Economic markers show that the global recession of 2009 took a sizable toll on the Bahamian economy, and recovery has been slower than in comparable economies. According to the Word Bank, The Bahamas’ GDP per capita (PPP) has steadily dropped since 2008, largely driven by losses in the country’s two main sectors: Tourism and Financial Services. Today, real GDP per capita is lower than it was in 2000. Without impactful economic development reforms, improvements in the education of the workforce and government accountability significant improvement in the Bahamian economy through 2020 are increasingly difficult to forecast. ORG believes that efforts to reverse this downward trajectory must be prioritized.
ORG believes that achieving sustainable economic development is one of the central priorities to creating prosperity and opportunity for all within the Bahamian economic environment. There are important links between economic diversity and sustainable development. Increasing the number of viable opportunities across many sectors insulates the Bahamas from shocks in any single industry, creating a more stable economic environment. This economic stability fosters innovation, improves business and consumer confidence and encourages sustainable growth.
Seeking to address the Bahamas’ heavy dependence on large-scale tourism and financial services, The Organization for Responsible Government, has commissioned internationally reputed economic research firm Oxford Economics to study possible opportunities and identify achievable strategies for growth in three key sectors:
Agriculture and Light Manufacturing – selected based on the inherent potential as primary economic sectors that can engage and empower local entrepreneurs
Logistics – chosen due to Bahamas’ strategic location and already strong, if small, footprint in the global industry
Boutique and vacation home rental tourism – chosen due to a recognized opportunity with the increasing popularity of short-term rental platforms such as Air B’n’B, VRBO and others.
The Oxford Economics report presents a series of recommendations collected through a combination of economic research and the input of diverse Bahamian business leaders and stakeholders in the identified industries. The researchers promote that the adoption and implementation of strategies, suggested in or adapted from this report, could go a long way to improving investor, business and consumer confidence in The Bahamas and creating an environment where prosperity and opportunity are attainable for all. ORG intends that these recommendations be a starting point to adapt policies and practices that begin to address the economic stagnancy that the country has seen over the past decade.
The Organization for Responsible Governance is committed to working toward this end and welcomes the collaboration and cooperation of all stakeholders who seek a Bahamas that fosters productivity for all. We encourage you to be a part of the collective voice for a brighter Bahamas.