Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper plans to lead a national financial literacy campaign to encourage saving and investing, Cooper said yesterday, adding that local and foreign investment in the country is the fastest way to grow the economy.
Cooper, who was speaking at an ArawakX investor forum, said it has been his life’s work to ensure Bahamians are saving and investing for their future but lamented that the numbers show that the country has fallen short in these areas.
“Regrettably, we do not yet distinguish ourselves, in terms of savings, a trend that is not unlike our friends to the north,” said Cooper.
“The central bank’s 2018 Financial Literacy Survey was quite telling and, in fact, signaled great opportunity. There’s still less than 30 percent of Bahamians who contribute to pension plans and less than eight percent who invest in marketable securities. This is ground for significant opportunity.
“I continue to be concerned about this and my ministry will undertake this year, along with stakeholders in the financial services and banking community, to lead a national financial literacy campaign to ultimately encourage saving and investing. It is essential to the building of our capital markets and the spurring of national growth.”
Cooper said foreign direct investment is still the fastest route to economic growth for this country and encouraged investors to bring new opportunities and niches to The Bahamas, especially in the areas of agriculture, renewable energy and marine resources.
He said it is important that The Bahamas finds new markets and value networks to replace old, traditional concepts.
“My government’s economic plan is all about change – big, transformative change, impactful change – and we understand the importance of investing in communities, new industries and, most of all, we understand the need to invest in our people for the greater good of our collective future,” said Cooper.
“Our government is fully aware and we stand ready. We’re working to restart the engines of our economy, not just here on New Providence but across our family of islands.
“We’re interested in investment opportunities for Bahamians and visitors in Grand Bahama in ICT (information and communications technology) and the industrial sector with its incredible physical and technological infrastructure.”
Cooper said his government is committed to creating a business-friendly environment to facilitate an inflow of investments beyond the tourism industry.
“Our list is extensive but many items on this to-do list can be accomplished expeditiously with the right partners. I am here today to tell you that we are open for partnerships and we are open for business,” he said.