EDITORIAL: Christie makes valid point
The Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Perry Christie, recently urged the international commercial banks with a presence in the region to be true partners in development with the government and people of the islands in which they operate.
Mr Christie was speaking at an important conference which took place recently in The Bahamas and brought together officials from multilateral institutions with governmental representatives, financial advisors, developers and investors to discuss strategies in pursuing private-public partnerships with a view to assisting development in these islands.
This kind of gathering is welcome at any time because these open developing economies are just that, developing economies; and money is required to assist in their development. It is very timely too, because in these recessionary times there has to be a sensitive understanding on the part of the international financial institutions, both private and public, if these open and delicate economies are not to suffer extreme debilitation with ripple consequences of a social nature.
In fact, the direct language of Mr Christie is instructive and, in many respects, it is the kind of comment that could be replicated by most, if not all, of the region’s leaders. He declared that he needed to “have banks demonstrate they do have confidence in The Bahamas and that they are not just here to make money out of The Bahamas and then repatriate it to someplace outside”.
He went on to urge the financiers to recognize and understand that they were partners in development and that they needed to find a relationship by which the countries in the region could be advanced.
Very often the popular anecdotal view is that banks and other financial institutions come into our islands to take profits and repatriate them. Yet the Bahamian prime minister is making the important point that beneficial national development work can be done if these institutions see themselves not only as profit takers, but also as partners in development.
As Mr Christie correctly points out, there is a critical need for the private sector to be involved in regional economic development as part of its social responsibility.
We trust that the penny has truly dropped and that our people understand the desirability of securing foreign domestic investment in our islands and do what is necessary to welcome responsible investment in our region. Earning foreign exchange is, after all, our business too!
As with tourism and international business, our aim must always be to maximize the intake of legitimate foreign exchange and we must therefore enlist the help of the international private sector (especially if we are graduated out of the public sector agencies), if we are to make sure that every stone is upturned in our efforts to ride out this recession and continue on the path towards wholesome development.
We hope that both political leaders and international financiers will continue to hold discussions of this kind from time to time because, in a sense, our business is their business. In a symbiotic kind of way, they need us as much as we need them; for our continued development helps them as lenders to make profits.