Francis: govt should have moved on sovereign wealth fund project

Government should have piloted a sovereign wealth fund project a long time ago, according to former Central Bank Governor Julian Francis yesterday, explaining that the country has progressed little in certain aspects, and seems to be stuck in a “neocolonial mold”.

When asked about the development of a sovereign wealth fund, which  Guardian Business understands is likely to be one of the focuses of the Economic Recovery Committee’s (ERC) plan, Francis took umbrage with the fact that the country has talked a lot about a fund, but done very little to establish one.

“I’m not aware there has been any move to try this concept in some limited way, to see if it would work, to see how it might give us an opportunity if we focus technical resources on the management of a particular quantum of national assets,” said Francis. 

“When you have financial or industrial assets, which are sort of well managed, and they produce results which are better than they would have expected, we should be experimenting at least with these kinds of concepts, but, again, nothing.”

In 2016, the Christie administration established a legal framework for a sovereign wealth fund.

According to Francis, the country has been wasting a lot time and resources and “sort of consuming ourselves from the inside”, while not developing a model towards sustainable development.

He contended that there are many models around the world that The Bahamas could draw ideas from that would help the country to overcome many of the challenges being faced by Bahamians today.

“We have an economy that isn’t able to feed our people, the government has to borrow to do that,” said Francis.

“Hopefully next year we’ll go back to an economy which is functioning to some extent. But really that’s just going to just take us right back to the end of 2018/2019, when the economy wasn’t really doing well.

“By definition, we are negative in terms of the quality of life. We are really moving backwards in real terms. 

“What is needed is for us to get our model right. We really need to spend time looking at how we govern ourselves, the institutions that we have in place to manage our country, and how we manage those institutions.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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