On the heels of continued shocks to the country’s finances, the government should revisit the national development plan to ensure there is a less reactionary approach to fiscal governance.
Gowon Bowe, a member of the National Development Plan Steering Committee, said while there has been improvement in the information that has being shared and the understanding of the country’s financial situations, the government has lost sight of a sustained plan for the country.
“The national development plan project that was
commenced many years ago had built into it the elements of the social pillar, the economic pillar, governance pillar and natural and built environments – natural assets and infrastructure. That would have allowed for a setting out of a 25- to 30-year plan that would have intermediate steps,” Bowe told Guardian Business.
“What we find ourselves in unfortunately is reacting to events because we have not chartered out a course. When we look at planes or major boats, they set out a course to go from Nassau to North America. Their line of trajectory is not always straight, but they have a plan that they come back to and that would be our national development plan.”
The working draft for the National Development Plan: Vision 2040 was revealed in December 2016, six months before the Minnis administration gained governance.
It was intended to provide a road map for the future development of The Bahamas, including a comprehensive policy framework that would guide government decision making and investment over the next 25 years.
Bowe brought up the need to revisit the plan following the government’s announcement that it intends to borrow nearly $600 million to cover the revenue shortfall and expenditure increase as a result of Hurricane Dorian.
“So, in the absence of having a comprehensive plan as to how the country is going to react to a whole myriad of issues we will be faced with over the years, we will constantly be reacting. And more debilitating is the fact that when we overreact to single events, we may lose sight of the fact that these events may reoccur and what will be our ability to react in that space in time,” he said.
“So, as the IMF has said in their last report, we have to look at resilience but more importantly we have to look at how we as a country are going to focus our attention on a 25-, 30- or 40-year plan that would have intermediate steps, instead of looking at very short-term, very politically driven mission statements and agendas that set us back every time we have a change in government. We have to be maturing as a country, to have a goal but also back it up with a plan where we’re not just wishing for the best or failing to plan for it.