The government will seek an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) grant to help it establish a promotional arm for the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) that would seek out foreign investors and “ramp up” foreign direct investment in The Bahamas, Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette said.
Symonette, who was a speaker at the Bahamas Engineers Architects and Allied Professionals’ (BEAAP) stakeholders forum at the British Colonial Hilton, said The Bahamas’ program could be similar to Jampro, Jamaica’s government agency that promotes business opportunities in export and investment to both local investors and international parties.
And while the government hopes that this promotional arm will make the BIA stronger in terms of attracting investors to The Bahamas, Symonette said the BIA itself will need to be bolstered in order to ensure that its processes are streamlined.
He said the BIA will begin to do a better job at managing project approvals and following up on them, so that those investors who have promised to bring a development actually follow through.
At the BEAAP forum, Vice President of the Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) Tameka Hanna implored Symonette to allow associations like the BEAAP and BCA to have a seat at the table with foreign investors when they begin to plan their investments for The Bahamas.
Symonette acknowledged that many foreign investors come to this country with their plans in hand and their working teams, which they often tell the government are required for the success of their projects.
However, Hanna insisted bodies like the BCA and BEAAP have a “seat at the table from ‘hello’.”
“Government has to make this happen for all associations,” she said.
“We have been instructed that we have to write to someone and it has to be made public (to meet with investors along with the BIA)… From day one we would like to be in that room.”
Symonette said he wants to see an end to all the bureaucracy involved in the process, so that it could allow for greater participation from Bahamian firms.