The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, presented his mid-year Budget Statement to Parliament today. He maintained, *“the engines of the national economic machine are being primed to propel us forward to a new era of economic prosperity.”* He reported that the Government has met its initial commitments to reduce the deficit and increase revenue as a percentage of GDP, while also reining in the growth of public expenditure. On the latter, the Prime Minister affirmed that Government remains fully cognizant of the need to continue responsible management of public expenditure. *“In no other way can we meet the fundamental social and economic policy objectives of my government while at the same time containing expenditure at levels appropriate to the size of the national economy.”*
The Bahamas Government also intends to continue to pursue, with vigour and with focused attention, an Agenda for Action aimed at expanding economic and employment opportunities for all Bahamians. This area of emphasis, said the Prime Minister, will require an even more aggressive push to promote foreign direct investment projects throughout the nation. He highlighted the imminent opening of Baha Mar, the largest and most capital-intensive investment project of its kind ever attempted anywhere in our region – a project destined to have a positively transformative effect on the Bahamian tourism industry, and one that will, both in the short and long term, be a major employment boost.
The mid-term budget address spoke to Government’s pursuit of targeted policy initiatives to enhance the business environment and to promote stronger growth. Specifically:
* to strengthen the tourism industry;
* to further diversify the financial services sector;
* to further diversify the economy, especially in agriculture and fisheries;
* to develop and expand yachting, shipping and aircraft registries;
* to expand investments in education; and
* to strengthen national training efforts to better equip the Bahamian people, especially the youth, and to take maximum advantage of the new opportunities that are being created in the thousands for them.
The Prime Minister also referenced the ongoing programme of work which aims to ensure a significant restructuring and strengthening of the Government’s strategic planning capabilities for both investments and development. To this end, an Economic Development and Planning Unit has been developed within the Office of The Prime Minister to oversee the development and execution of a National Economic Development Plan.
The October 2014 growth forecast that the IMF published for the Bahamian economy projects real growth for The Bahamas this year and in 2016 of around 2 percent. The Prime Minister noted that with the IMF having recently boosted its growth forecast for the U.S. economy to an appreciable degree, the growth prospects for this nation may be even better than last projected by the IMF.