Maura warns economy not yet in the clear, despite IMF growth projection
The chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) warned the government and Bahamians not to use the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) gross domestic product (GDP) growth prediction of 2.5 percent this year as a sign that the country’s economy is in the clear.
Michael Maura said the country’s spike in national debt from 2012 to 2017, from $4 billion to $6.5 billion respectively, means the economy still has a long way to go before the country can breathe a sigh of relief. He added that the country had four years of zero growth.
“The IMF prediction is not intended to and should not bring a sense of relief,” Maura said. “Every Bahamian must internalize that The Bahamas’ economy remains in a perilous state.” Maura added that, while the opening of Baha Mar brought “obvious benefits”, those benefits are “simply not enough”.
“The government’s state of reforms must move at light speed,” he said.
“We are fortunate that the U.S. economy is presently strong, but there are real concerns about the U.S. national debt, which has gone from $16.7 trillion in 2012 to $21 trillion in 2017.”
Maura posited that, though the U.S. economy presents a glimmer of hope for The Bahamas’ tourism industry at the moment, the country must continue to look at ways to diversify its income portfolio and lean less on tourism.
“Our economic opportunity lies in our own economic reform,” he said. “The Bahamas must become a global business competitor which benefits from tourism, but is not dependent on tourism.”
Maura also warned the government not to consider new taxes without close consultation with the private sector, and to consider a reduction or elimination of tax on items such as apparel and shoes in order to help to make those sectors competitive in a rapidly changing economic environment.
According to Maura, The Bahamas also has to improve its international competitiveness, quality of business development and the quality of life for its citizens.
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