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PRESS RELEASE

Bahamas: Growth, Jobs and Opportunities for All, Top the Agenda at High-Level Conference

April 5, 2013

Investment climate, reforms, labour productivity and skills key for private sector-led growth

NASSAU, Bahamas, April 4, 2013 - Inclusive growth that generates jobs and opportunities for all citizens in Bahamas was at the center of a high-level national conference hosted today by the country at the Super Club Breezes in Nassau. The conference is part of the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF), a two-year regional platform for dialogue to foster higher levels of economic growth with opportunities for all in the Caribbean.

The CGF is a partnership between the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and Compete Caribbean, with support from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The CGF builds on existing partnerships and involves stakeholders from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society, as well as the Caribbean Diaspora.

About 120 participants from the public and private sectors, youth, academia, media and civil society joined the conference to talk about the key factors that have the greatest potential to increase growth in Bahamas.

Participants discussed ways to strengthen the investment climate, upgrade education and develop skills that improve competitiveness and generate higher-paying jobs. They also addressed key actions needed to improve logistics and connectivity --especially by making key infrastructure services more affordable and efficient-- including information technology, transportation and electricity.

The Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance said: “Economic Development is as much a process as it is an outcome. The outcome will not be successful and sustainable if the process isn’t strategy and knowledge based. The absence of a clear strategy and enabling infrastructure will expose a country to extraordinary risk.”

The one-day CGF event included remarks by the RT. Hon. Prime Minister Christie; The Hon. Khaalis Rolle, Minister of State for Investments, Office of the Prime Minister; Astrid Wynter, Bahamas Country Representative, IDB; and Edison Sumner, CEO, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation.

Bahamas IDB Country Representative, Astrid Wynter summarized on behalf of the CGF partners that: “The Bahamas, like many other regional nations, is seeking to address the deterioration in its fiscal accounts, while simultaneously looking to its domestic market for future growth. Consequently, the increased activity of the private sector working alongside its public sector partners is an imperative partnership in order to buffer itself from external downturns, while sustaining a measure of economic activity in the domestic market. In light of this, the country has articulated its firm commitment to reforming measures necessary to improve private sector led growth, and the international development partners of the CGF, stand ready to provide support.”

Similarly, the Caribbean Development Bank is concluding its country assistance strategy for The Bahamas and in this regard plans to leverage the dialogue within the context of the CGF to help shape development support in moving the country forward. According to Carl Howell, Chief Economist of the CDB: “The Bank is also cognizant that the CGF is evolving as a significant platform to engage key stakeholders on important development issues and is elated that the momentum being generated will undoubtedly lock in the support for action and positive change in the Caribbean economies.

"Compete Caribbean, a private sector development program, sponsors the Caribbean Growth Forum because it believes that the inclusive platform and methodology being provided by the Forum will help to foment consensus on a set of actions that will lead to a competitive private sector driving growth throughout the region,” said Sylvia Dohnert, Compete Caribbean Executive Director.

The Caribbean Growth Forum brings a non-traditional approach to the greatest challenge currently faced by the region – creating sustainable growth,” said Andrea Gallina, CGF Coordinator, World Bank. “Government and private sector alike clearly express a sense of urgency in moving forward with the growth agenda, and the CGF can facilitate this by building a national, action-oriented dialogue involving all segments of society, and making sure, over time, that results are delivered. The CGF is an incredibly rewarding journey, and many will participate by making their voices heard."

The CGF event in Bahamas follows the launch of a local chapter in the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname and Dominica over the past four months. Jamaica and Trinidad will organize similar events in May; while the other participating countries are due to come on stream later this year.

The first phase of the initiative will be completed at the end of 2013 with the production of an action plan by each of the 15 Caribbean countries participating in the Forum. The action plans will include concrete policy recommendations that would then be implemented by each country. Interested citizens will have a continuous opportunity to learn more about and engage in the CGF via the social media channels.

Be updated via Twitter

@caribgrowth, and follow #growthBAH

Media Contacts
In Nassau

Samantha Rolle

In Washington, DC

Patricia  da Camara
tel : +1 (202) 473-4019

In Barbados

Karen  Mahy

PRESS RELEASE NO:
2013/009/CAR