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Economic Development Unit on stream ‘next year’

Minister of state for investments says approvals process is ‘flowing smoothly’
Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Oct 22, 2013

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The Economic Development Unit will be operational next year, Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle has confirmed.

The unit, located in the Office of The Prime Minister, is expected to assist in identifying the key economic elements that will yield advances in economic growth and ultimately a reduction in the cost of doing business.

It will also help in developing a road map to maximize foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities.  He said the government is “very” close to finalizing details and will make some “major” shifts.

“We are going to reallocate some resources, and we’re going to make an announcement soon.  The unit will definitely be operational next year.  Right now, we’re very close to finalizing all of the details and making some major shifts.”

Earlier this year, the government signed a $400,000 technical co-operation agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to bring the unit on stream.  The IDB expressed concern that the government’s current approach to assessing and prioritizing FDI proposals was rudimentary.

Meanwhile, Rolle said the government has continued its aggressive push to bring more FDI opportunities to The Bahamas.

In an effort to do so, the minister of state for investments said improvements have been made at the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) when it comes to the time it takes for proposals to be approved, a complaint that has often come from potential investors.

“Many of the complaints stem from not having the right type of information and incomplete applications, but the normal process is flowing smoothly, so we are making tremendous progress at BIA.”

In 2012, The Bahamas received an estimated 27 percent of the FDI in the Western Hemisphere.  The unit, along with other government initiatives, will seek to improve on that figure.

“Our reach is global.  We’re not pinned down to any region, whether it’s in the Far East, the Middle East, the United States or Canada, I believe the world is The Bahamas’ oyster,” he told Guardian Business recently.

“We have been good at attracting money over the years from North America.  Now, there are even Caribbean countries that are talking about investing in The Bahamas because they see what we have built over the years that adds value not only to tourism but the region as a whole.”

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