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National economic development plan outreach underway

Published: Oct 15, 2013

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An economic planning expert has visited the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) as part of an information-gathering effort that will factor into the creation of a national economic development plan (NEDP).

The visit of Dr. Nicholas Miles to the GBPA comes after the Inter-American Development Bank approved a technical cooperation program entitled, “Strengthening the Capacity of the Office of the Prime Minister”, with the objective of developing an economic planning mechanism for the overall management of the economy.

Miles was contracted to assist in drafting the terms of reference for the preparation of a NEDP.

During his recent mission, officials of the GBPA warmly welcomed Miles, along with team members from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

“What we’re doing here is a collective effort in finding out from people what are the issues and challenges that their organizations face and what they think should be included in the NEDP.  Also, what guidance they can recommend as we write the terms of reference,” Miles explained.

GBPA Vice Chairman Sarah St. George described the implementation of a NEDP as an “excellent concept”.

“I think the idea of a master plan going forward is key to development, especially one that is an integrated process throughout the islands and interlocks in a way that everyone else understands.”

Miles added that the process of getting people involved and participating is really important.

“The process is as important as the product,” he stated.  He also noted that short and medium term operational plans will be embedded in the NEDP.

“It’s a plan that we hope will be a bridge between segments of society and different political views, one which will be institutionalized within Bahamian society so that the core of that plan will be retained, whoever is in power.”

Cognizant of the significant role that Grand Bahama plays in the overall growth of the country, St. George commented that it is paramount that local stakeholders be included in the development of such a significant national plan.

“We’ve always enjoyed working hand-in-hand with the public sector,” she added.  “Freeport is special, especially with regards to unique features of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, so it is important for us to have that ongoing dialogue and inclusion in national matters.”

The island’s communications and transportation infrastructure should be a serious consideration within a national economic plan, involving the utilization of resources that are already at our disposal within the country, added St. George.

“Freeport really is a platform for the further development of The Bahamas.  The opportunities here are endless and can be utilized a lot more,” she stated.

Following the preliminary meeting, GBPA representatives traveled to Nassau where Prime Minister Perry Christie officially introduced the program.  Government agencies, public and private sector partners from throughout the island nation and visiting international delegates were present for the event.

Summing up the initial talks as successful and informative, participants are now looking forward to continued discussions in early 2014, when the formulation of core components of the NEDP is expected to begin.

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