On September 26th, 2013, stakeholders from all cross-sections of Bahamian society met to discuss the importance of national-level development planning, particularly as it concerns small island states.
The notion of a national-level planning conference began with the signing of a technical co-operation: ‘Strengthening Intuitional Capacity of the office of the Prime Minister’ between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of The Bahamas in July 2013. This technical co-operation is designed to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Office of the Prime Minister within the Bahamian Government through enhancing its long-term development planning and investment project assessment functions.
Conference Chairman Dr. Nicholas Miles spoke on ‘National Economic Development Planning: Critical Success Factors for The Bahamas’. Dr. Miles commented that, “National economic development plans express a vision for a nation, tell the world who you are, what you are about, and they provide a road map to the future.”
Additional presenters included: Ms. Maria Zingapan, Director of the Economics and Statistics Office in the Cayman Islands, who discussed ‘The Cayman Island National Development Planning Experience: A Case Study’; Mr. Jamie Simpson, who presented on ‘Port and industrial development planning in a globalized and volatile world: implications for The Bahamas’; and Mr. Patrick McCaskie, Director of the Research and Planning Unit within the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in Barbados, who spoke on ‘Barbados’ Experience With Development Planning’.
The Honorable Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, stated: “The preparation and implementation of a national economic development plan for the Bahamas is one of the government’s initiatives to promote and secure the prosperity of the nation and its people over the next 30 years. This prosperity would be characterized by inclusive development and economic and environmental sustainability.”
Now that this national dialogue has resumed at the highest level, what’s next?
The Bahamas now offers a unique national-level platform to demonstrate to the world how an archipelagic country plans, with ground-breaking research and access to new resources and information, particularly related to sustainable development. All of the country’s unique factors must be taken into consideration, including The Bahamas’ political, economic, geographic and environmental landscape, as well as culture and history.
Dr. Miles will present a ‘terms of reference’ based on his recommendations for a national development plan to the Bahamian Government. From there, the ball is in the hands of the Bahamian people. Collective responsibility must take place at every level, from individual households to Parliament, to ensure that a plan comes to fruition and remains a matter of top priority.