The Bahamas “tells the story” to its investors

Michael Halkitis, Minister of Economic Affairs.

By NEIL HARTNELL

Editor-in-chief of the Tribune

[email protected]

The government is focused on “telling the story of the Bahamas” and its post-COVID recovery to ensure that international investors and markets maintain confidence in the country’s debt, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.

Michael Halkitis, Minister of Economic Affairs, leading the Senate budget debate, said the Davis administration was focused on ensuring that lenders, creditors and other investors have confidence in the economic recovery strategy and government debt management to the extent that the Bahamas can still access credit markets at competitive interest rates when needed.

“I think we have a good story to tell here in the Bahamas,” he said, pointing to the recently oversubscribed $385 million international bond issue that was placed with the help of a $200 guarantee. million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). “We have a strong recovery underway, driven by tourism, the outlook is good and we are optimistic for the Bahamas.”

Mr. Halkitis said that was the message the government continued to convey in its conversations with Bahamian-based and international financial institutions, as well as other money market players, stressing that this needed to be continually reinforced. in an environment where so-called emerging countries like this country are under pressure from global inflation and rising U.S. interest rates post-pandemic.

He added that the Bahamas had been “very well received” to date, and described it as an “ongoing process” to educate investors on what is happening in the Bahamas to ensure this nation wins and retains. their confidence.

Explaining again why the Davis administration chose not to impose new and/increased taxes on Bahamians, Mr. Halkitis added: “We believe we should grow the economy. A rising tide lifts all boats. This is the path we have taken…..We have officially launched the Revenue Enhancement Unit, which has already identified hundreds of millions of dollars in uncollected revenue which will now be pursued through improved collection and application.

Recognizing that the budget’s combination of duty rate reductions, planned increases in public sector wages, continued support for social services and investments in food security will not be a panacea for the spiraling inflation that has plunged many Bahamians in a cost of living crisis, Mr. Halkitis added, “The current wave of global hyperinflation has compounded a bad situation in the Bahamas, where we already had a high cost of living even before the pandemic.

“We cannot stop global inflation, but we can take steps to mitigate its impact and support our people. This may not be enough to fully reverse the impact of inflation, but we believe that during these times every dollar counts. »

Elsewhere, the minister said the government had asked the Securities Commission to “develop and advise on secondary market carbon credit trading legislation, which will be debated alongside government legislation very shortly.

“Carbon markets with high-quality carbon credits and offsets could play a vital role in helping countries decarbonize the global economy, while delivering substantial economic benefits,” Halkitis added. “The Securities Commission has reviewed and assessed seven jurisdictions to determine how The Bahamas can develop and implement a voluntary international carbon credit trading market.

“The intention is to create a carbon credit regulatory framework that would allow for cross-border trade in carbon units, which could ultimately help reduce the Bahamas’ greenhouse gas footprint, meet its obligations under of the Paris Agreement and to increase the direct and indirect economic effects and financial opportunities.

Mr. Halkitis also promised that the Bahamas was finally making progress in establishing itself as an international arbitration center – something they had been talking about for more than two decades. “We’ve been talking about ADR (alternative dispute resolution) in the Bahamas for over 20 years now with little substantive progress,” he acknowledged.

“This has not been due to a lack of passion or enthusiasm on the part of local MARC experts and enthusiasts within the public and private sectors. They asked for it. After all this time, progress is now underway. The ADR Unit is in the process of appointing Bahamian members to the Court of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

“The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Council has been reformed. It is hoped that through the ADR Council, The Bahamas can effectively promote itself as a premier jurisdiction for international arbitration and other ADR processes…. After two decades, we are seeing real movement in ADR and hope that businesses and individuals involved in disputes will soon have an international arbitration center in the Bahamas to settle such disputes.