Prime Minister, Dr. the Most Hounourable, Hubert Minnis, served as the opening speaker at the 30th Annual Bahamas Business Outlook 2021 event held on January 14th, 2021. The Prime Minister’s speech focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the country and the measures that his government has implemented to protect the health of the Bahamian people and revitalize the economy.
The Prime Minister outlined the enormous task ahead of us as we seek to rebound from the worst global pandemic in our lifetime. He stated that the government is prioritizing the work of the recently announced COVID-19 Vaccine Committee, led by Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, to ensure that we are able to have a successful rollout of the vaccine when the time comes.
The government’s economic plans were also highlighted as the Prime Minister announced that a team of top local economic and financial advisors is hard at work in developing an economic recovery plan. The team will be guided by the Economic Recovery Committee’s recommendations and will align their strategy with ease of doing business goals, as well as the government’s intention to accelerate the realization of domestic and foreign investment projects to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Prime Minister Minnis also shared the government’s intention to significantly reduce capital expenditures while retaining the funding necessary to move forward with critical infrastructural projects, such as the upgrades at the Exuma International Airport, the development of the Long Island International Airport and the North Eleuthera International Airport, and upgrades to the Leonard Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour through public-private partnerships. These activities represent over 150 million dollars invested in these islands.
The government is also reviewing the Sovereign Wealth Fund Act (2016) to enhance the contained provisions, creating greater transparency and accountability in how the funds are used and how land and natural resources are managed. He also announced a National Infrastructure Fund to meet the nation’s immense infrastructural needs through public-private partnerships as the country prepares to invest heavily in coastal, energy, healthcare, education, transportation, and digital infrastructure against the backdrop of climate change and emerging 21st century needs. The digital investment includes a plan to train over 100 Bahamians in software development according to Cisco standards through the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute’s (BTVI) Networking Academy Programme and the soon-to-be-launched beta of the “one-stop-shop” citizen engagement portal.
The Prime Minister provided a detailed look at the over 41 million dollars invested in the Business Continuity Programme and millions more invested in small businesses through the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC). He wrapped up his outline of upcoming initiatives by focusing on the recovery efforts for the victims of Hurricane Dorian, noting that millions have been spent on small business development and unemployment benefits. Over 90 million dollars will be spent to restore the power infrastructure.
“The Bahamas business and economic outlook for 2021 is: a much better economy, many more jobs, an improvement in public finances, and the beginning of the end of this terrible pandemic.
The Bahamas is getting back to business. Let us work together to rebuild our economy and country and to get Bahamians back to work as quickly as possible.”
Dr. The Most Honourable Hubert A. Minnis