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Christie cites FDI, training as key to growth

Addressing the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF) regional workshop yesterday, Prime Minister Perry Christie said that the region must encourage foreign direct investment and train its people to realize growth. Pictured: Prime Minister Perry Christie opens the Caribbean Growth Forum regional workshop at Atlantis Paradise Island June 24, 2013. (BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay) 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Addressing the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF) regional workshop being held at Atlantis Paradise Island, June 24-25, Prime Minister Perry Christie said during the opening session that the region was facing declining foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, as countries fought to emerge from the global recession.

“As small vulnerable states, we have always been disproportionately affected by external shocks in the world markets, and our recent history is confirmation,” he said.

“The outcome will not be successful and sustainable if the process is not strategic and knowledge based.
The absence of a clear strategy and enabling infrastructure exposes a country to extraordinary risk, which can be ill afforded.”

The CGF is an initiative to identify policies aimed at inducing growth and creating jobs in the Caribbean region through analytical work, knowledge exchange and inclusive dialogue.

Its goal is to provide a platform for dialogue around the growth challenge with a view to identifying practical and implementable solutions that inspire action.

Prime Minister Christie noted that the topics for discussion during the workshop included improving the investment climate and job training to enhance labour productivity.

Addressing the first topic, the Prime Minister explained that the Bahamian economy, like the economies in the Caribbean, is driven by investment both foreign and domestic.

He said in the absence of FDI economies would become stagnant and a primary focus of his term in office has been identifying the constraints that impede investment and removing them.

“For us in The Bahamas this has involved the recreation of the Ministry of Investments.”

Prime Minister Christie said this has also involved dialogue with potential investors and articulating a clear vision for the development of the country.

“We have studied the investment promotions agencies in the region for strategies that could be adopted in strengthening our principal agency of foreign direct investment promotion, the Bahamas Investment Authority.”

“We have provided concessions to investors within our regulatory and policy frameworks with a view to enhancing our competitiveness.”

“At the same time, we are responding to immense challenges which include a rigid fiscal situation, under-investments in key infrastructure and crime, an issue, if not fully addressed could potentially derail all of the good that we do and have done.”

Regarding job training to enhance labour productivity, Christie cited a skills gap as perhaps the greatest impediment to sustainable employment in the modern world, and particularly in developing countries.

“So, it is fitting that the other area of discussion is the need for a renewed focus on education and skills development to improve competitiveness and foster job creation.”

He said there has to be people able to do the jobs, which are being created in the economy, and it is the government’s determination to ensure that the infrastructure and enabling environment are in place.

“This is most essential at this time in our history when the globalization and technology fostered intra-regional competitiveness to a degree that was unthinkable a decade ago.”

“For decades our economies have been stymied in their growth potential by size and scale, yet we have been resilient and purposeful, surviving and developing in concrete ways which seem unimaginable.”

“Forums of this kind are at once opportunities for reflection on our commonalities, as they are occasions for us to create new platforms for sustained growth and development,” he said.

In the next installment of ZNS Network's "Countdown to Independence" series, chief executive officer of Bahamas Realty Ltd Larry Roberts gives his thoughts on the historic event. Watch the segment here.

Representatives of The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation attended the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month.

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