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Bahamas OPM and IDB launches National Development Plan
By Gena Gibbs, BIS
Jan 29, 2014 - 1:04:15 PM

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State Minister for Investments, Khaalis Rolle, and IDB's Astrid Winter. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs)

Nassau, The Bahamas -- The Government plans to control the escalation of the national deficit by rearranging its developmental priorities in initiating a National Developmental Plan with the joint effort between the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the Inter-Developmental Bank (IDB).

"At the request of the Government of The Bahamas, the InterDevelopmental Bank approved a technical cooperation, entitled 'Strengthening the Capacity in the Office of The Prime Minister'. The objective of this initiative is the development of an economic planning mechanism for the overall management of the Bahamian economy," said OPM's State Minister for Investments, Khaalis Rolle.

"In line with this initiative and our commitment in the Charter for Governance to change our economic course, by placing greater emphasis on planning and effective execution of the nation's blueprint to the future."Mr. Rolle said on January 23, that the Government met with the IDB and plans to establish an economic planning unit within the Office of the Prime Minister.

"This unit will have the mandate, organisational structure, staffing, and capacity to carry out effective feasibility and impact assessments of all investment projects, including foreign direct investments (FDI), as well as public and private sector investments. The economic planning unit will also ensure the alignment of all prioritised projects with the national economic development strategy," said Mr Rolle.He said the national development plan will be historic in nature, will provide a comprehensive overview of the economy, set policy direction for economic growth, and identify strategies, programmes, and projects, to improve the overall health and sustainability of the Bahamian economy.

Mr Rolle said that since approval of the operation, the Government held a national development planning workshop in collaboration with the IDB, facilitated by economic planning expert, Dr. Nicholas Miles, who has also been contracted to draft the terms of reference for the preparation of the national developmental plan.He also said the OPM /IDB initiative is funded by a grant from the IDB and does not requirerepayment, notwithstanding that the partnership is expected to yield a change in the nation's economic course. Mr. Rolle said the Economic Planning Unit along with a National Development Plan would take over a period of nine months to implement.

"The workshop focused on best practices forSmall Island States in advancing an economicdevelopment planning instrument for the management of our economy. Today, we are pleased to announce the commencement of the procurement process with requests for expressions of interest and this is being published in the dailies. The procurement process will be managed by the IDB. And we anticipate that both local and foreign firms will participate in this process," said Mr. Rolle.Mr Rolle said this is very important initiative to the overall health and well being of the Bahamian economy, underscored by what the country has experienced over the last six to seven years.

"At the outset of the economic crisis, we were tasked with finding a solution that would keep the Bahamian economy afloat. Unfortunately, because we have not done a good enough job, streamlining processes and identifying key sectors for growth and putting mechanisms in place to ensure that all of the inputs necessary to grow those sectors were in place, refined, and ready to respond," said Mr. Rolle.

"So, I see this as a process that will streamline what we've been doing over the years, provide greater focus, provide a surgical and strategic approach, which will take the Bahamian economy and country where it needs to be in the future."

Astrid Winter from the IDB spoke about launching the procurement process and improving the planning structure and strengthening the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) with the tools needed to evaluate investment proposals. The notices will be posted in the daily paper and the United Nations Development Business (UNDB)."This is grant financing, in other words, this is non- reimbursable financing from a fund that the IDB manages called the Institutional Capacity Strengthening Fund, so the resources of$450,000 are in the form of a grant," said Ms. Winter.

"This is an initiative that is clearly being spearheaded by the Office of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister himself and the Minister for Investments, Mr Rolle. It's also important to note that last year, The Bahamasformed the National Chapter of the Caribbean Growth Forum, an initiative across the Caribbean, spearheaded or financed by the World Bank, CDB, IDB, the Canadian Developmental Agency (CDA), and others," she said.

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