The government must stop using Crown land as a political tool to attract foreign direct investment, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper said yesterday, saying the policy is contributing to the increasing cost of living in The Bahamas.
“There is the issue of Crown land. This must be streamlined and made more efficient,” said Cooper as he addressed members of the Rotary Club of West Nassau.
“We must end the process and the policy of using it as a political tool, as it has been done over successive governments, as a tool to attract foreign direct investments.
“We must use it also to drive down the cost of housing for Bahamians, especially on the Family Islands where there is a considerable amount of remaining Crown land.”
He said this can reduce the cost of housing, the cost of borrowing, ultimately the cost of developments and the cost of doing business.
In August 2018, Attorney General Carl Bethel announced that the Minnis administration was establishing an inventory of Crown land throughout The Bahamas in a bid to make low cost housing available on the Family Islands and spur economic growth in the archipelago.
Cooper also suggested that Bahamians look at “cultural issues” to address the country’s increasing cost of living.
He said he advocates for financial literacy for school-aged children as he believes it is critical for the future of the country.
“We can teach our children how to shop and how to shop less impulsively,” he said.
“We can teach our children how to invest and how to challenge our consumer-driven culture and mentality. We must teach our children that our taxes are consumer driven, and the more they consume, the more taxes they pay.”
Cooper added that these lessons will ultimately lead to empowerment, which increases the country’s earning potential.
He also suggested that the country look at curbing the amount of imported food, which can easily be grown locally.
Cooper said, “It is possible, not just for food security, but for the quality of our foods which will ultimately improve our health and reduce the cost of our healthcare.”
He also urged the government to continue work on a unified bus system so that individuals are able to receive reliable transportation without borrowing money from a bank to purchase a car.