Editorials

The PM’s outlandish claim on the economy

It remains incredulous that Prime Minister Philip Davis continues to maintain that he met the Bahamian economy in severe recession when he came to office in September 2021.

Davis made the claim in his national address last October and repeatedly in the House of Assembly since his election.

He most recently repeated it at the Bahamas Business Outlook last week.

This claim is outlandish. It is false. No amount of repeating it will make it a fact.

In fact, the economy grew by 14 percent in 2021, during which his administration was in office for only the three last months of the year.

In the months prior to September 2021, the Central Bank documented a recovering Bahamian economy and in its report for that September it noted: “Tourism output further strengthened containing a more pronounced rebuilding of seasonal business as the year progressed, attributed to improved vaccination efforts, both locally and internationally.”

Following the worst period of the pandemic, The Bahamas, like all other tourism destinations, is benefiting from inflows of visitors reflecting two years of pent-up demand when travel was severely restricted.

With our reduced number of hotel rooms, hotels are able to command higher room rates. Further, the shortage of rooms has resulted in the proliferation of Airbnb-type accommodations becoming available – putting dollars into the pockets of many ordinary Bahamians.

Rather than serving as a catalyst to the post-pandemic resurging economy, the Davis administration is benefiting handsomely from a number of projects left underway by the former administration: The new US Embassy on Shirley Street and the redevelopment of the Prince George Dock and Nassau Cruise Port, which will transform the cruise ship docking and terminal area and all of Rawson Square, are among the projects.

There are other projects the PLP met in place.

Around New Providence: Goldwyn and Aqualina along West Bay Street, the Leno Corporate Centre’s commercial development atop Centreville Hill and the six-story Commercial Corporate office building under construction at the intersection of Collins Avenue and Sixth Terrace.

On Paradise Island: David Kasoy’s Sterling Global Financial’s marina has been completed and construction of retail and residential components of his developments are continuing or are scheduled to continue.

On Abaco: Apart from general private sector reconstruction following Hurricane Dorian, large-scale investments connected to the restoration of storm-ravaged Baker’s Bay and construction of super luxury estate residences at Matt Lowe’s Cay by the Montage and Sterling Global Financial. Those account for millions, and more investments are underway.

On Grand Bahama: In addition to general storm restoration works underway, the construction and post-construction employment connected to the development of Western Atlantic University’s School of Medicine, and ongoing multi-million-dollar renovations and upgrades at Pelican Bay Resort and Marina and the Carnival Cruise Port.

On Eleuthera: Disney’s development at Lighthouse Beach.

One real estate company reported sales in excess of $1 billion last year. That alone would have produced some $100 million in government revenue. That excludes money pumped into the economy in real estate commission and lawyers’ fees, etc. Most of these sales were the result of deals struck before the September 2021 general election.

One must assume that the other large real estate companies have also enjoyed robust increases in sales completely unrelated to any policy of the Davis administration.

These developments are in addition to all the other things that make up The Bahamas’ economy, including the operations of large resorts like Atlantis and Baha Mar, the industrial and marine enterprises of Grand Bahama, retail, financial services, etc.

Projects that may be attributed to the Davis administration include undertaking the completion of the baseball stadium, a mega store development by his family on Prince Charles Drive and the new shopping plaza near Elizabeth Estates. Club Med San Salvador and Sandals Royal Bahamian have also reopened.

And of course, the construction of the FTX campus, which has since collapsed.

The prime minister may also advise when the stopped work on the Exuma airport can be expected to resume.

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