In order to prevent a monopoly, the government intends to limit how many wealthy Bahamians will be able to invest in the government’s new program that will provide shareholder opportunities for Bahamians to own government buildings, Minister of Works Desmond Bannister said.
The program was announced by the prime minister on April 26 and will be led by Greg Cleare, who is the chief financial officer for Holowesko Partners Ltd.
On Friday, when asked if the initiative would simply be monopolized by a minority of wealthy Bahamians, Bannister said, “Well, I guess you can say that about anything but if you look at what’s happening at the port now, there’s a limit on how much money any individual can invest; that’s what’s happening with the port now.”
He continued, “…We’re going to ensure that there’s a limit on what any wealthy or other persons can invest, but it won’t work unless the everyday Bahamians just like me and just like you, who work on a salary, invest something in it and make a difference so that we have a stake in it.”
The minister said he hopes that young Bahamians “are saving up so that you can invest in” the program.
“…I’m hoping that young and intelligent Bahamians like you will invest in this plan that the prime minister has,” Bannister said.
“It’s an ingenious plan where we’re going to have Bahamians create the fund so that money goes in that [fund] and the returns go in your pocket and it’s maintained by certain standards and that’s going to be wonderful to see.”
The program will establish an independent company where all government buildings will be permanently located and become part of this company, according to the prime minister, who did not give specifics on ownership or the financial structure that he said will be a special purpose vehicle.
Last month, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said, “Government will then be in a position to rent facilities of its own, rather than having three or four individuals monopolizing on the economy or as we would say the web shop monopolizing on the economy.
“The Bahamian people will be empowered to own their own complexes and have a return of five to six percent, as opposed to 0.5 percent as is given in the bank.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has said there are still no concrete plans for the program.
He said the matter is still before Cabinet “but we expect that will be moving forward relatively soon”.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice