The government is fast-tracking the implementation of a sovereign wealth fund, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced yesterday.
“I am happy to advise that we intend to accelerate the implementation of a sovereign wealth fund, another recommendation of the [Economic Recovery Committee],” said Minnis at the Bahamas Business Outlook conference.
“The government has already executed a legal review of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Act of 2016, with a view to enhancing the provisions of the legislation.”
The issue has been a hot topic in recent months in light of the start of exploratory oil drilling in Bahamian waters.
Minnis noted countries typically form sovereign wealth funds to manage and invest excess cash from royalties and budgetary surpluses.
“While The Bahamas is not yet at that point in our development, we appreciate that we have valuable land and other natural resource assets,” he said.
“We also recognize that the country needs an independent, non-partisan, transparent, accountable entity to manage some of our most valuable land and our precious natural assets for the benefit of the Bahamian people.
“Such oversight may help to reduce corruption by public officials.”
Minnis said the fund will also be used to manage a special sub-fund dedicated to infrastructure, especially in the Family Islands.
“To maximize the potential of our Family Islands, critical transportation, health care, education, heritage, cultural, commercial and power infrastructure must be built, and built to world-class standards,” he said.
“In the face of climate change, such infrastructure must be resilient.
“This National Infrastructure Fund will mobilize public and private capital, from local and international sources, to be deployed in the true spirit of public-private partnerships to meet the estimated two billion in infrastructure development needs throughout our extensive archipelago.
“The Sovereign Wealth Fund and the accompanying National Infrastructure Fund will transform the way in which we approach the development of our country.
“These funds will enshrine accountable and transparent means for Bahamians to ensure that our national assets are deployed and developed for the benefit of the entire country.”