THE BAHAMIAN ECONOMY NOW
The Bahamian economy is in a precarious position with four consecutive credit downgrades, consistently high fiscal deficits, GDP growth at near naught, unemployment at a soaring high and 1 in 10 Bahamians living in poverty. If Bahamas is to reduce poverty, create job and business opportunities, raise standards of living and address social ills such as crime, it must start with the foundation of a strong economy.
PLOTTING A PATH TO ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
Economic development is a dynamic and multi-faceted occurrence that is highly dependent on a myriad of factors including but not limited to: fiscal stability, foreign trade, labor force productivity, wealth distribution, foreign and local direct investment, monetary policy, energy policy and prices, rule of law and ease of doing business.
Good governance requires dynamic planning that considers these economic factors and their applications. Without decent fiscal and economic policy and practices coupled with the ability to monitor and adapt, a nation’s economy will suffer, as will the opportunity available to its people. If left unchecked the symptoms are much like those we see in Bahamas today: increased crime, high unemployment, low wages, poor consumer and business confidence, less foreign direct investment, and poor morale.
The Bahamas needs a new culture of governance that is forward-looking and committed to collaboration and leveraging the economic expertise of the private and non-profit sectors for the betterment of the nation. This new regime must stimulate economic growth through thoughtfully researched, sustainable action.
THE ORG STRATEGY
ORG intends to initiate this paradigm shift serving as a civil society bridge, where stakeholders can come together for thoughtful discourse on the economy. Our Economic Development Subcommittee brings together industry leaders, civil servants, political leaders and international and local scholars to develop realistic, sustainable solutions and plot a path to greater prosperity for all.
Under the direction of this subcommittee, ORG addresses the core economic problems of the nation by conducting research, developing national action plans and educating citizens. Through empowering the people with knowledge and acting as a watchdog ORG will hold governments and political parties accountable to higher standards and to greater levels of performance.
In tandem with our subcommittee ORG has identified three priority action items for economic development: the creation of a Fiscal Responsibility Act, diversifying the nation’s economic portfolio, and increasing workforce productivity.
Fiscal responsibility is essential to creating a better, stronger, more prosperous nation for the next generation. Reducing the nation’s deficits, ensuring prudent management of our nation’s capital and resources, and creating greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations will help put the nation on a path to lasting prosperity and a rising standard of living.
The Bahamas’ heavy dependence on large-scale tourism and financial services is limiting the country’s opportunities for economic growth. 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, creates a more stable economic environment, fosters innovation, improves business and consumer confidence and encourages growth.
The Organization for Responsible Government commissioned internationally reputed economic research firm Oxford Economics to study opportunities and identify achievable strategies for growth in key alternate sectors.
WORK FORCE PRODUCTIVITY
A highly skilled, well-trained workforce is at the heart of a more productive labor force, a factor which can elevate GDP, contribute to sustainable and reduce unemployment. ORG believes that a more competitive workforce must begin at the high school level and a joint goal between our education reform and economic development subcommittees is the enhancement of the young workforce through workplace learning and apprenticeship programs.
In an ORG-commissioned report on solutions for improved education, expert Scott Hamilton outlines suggestions for apprenticeships and other workforce development programs designed to prepare students for employment success and diminish the gap between high school graduates’ vocational skills and the skills employers are looking for.