United States Holds US-CARICOM Partnership Reception in Honour of Relationship
March 6, 2023 – Ahead of the 44th Regular Meeting of the Heads of Government of CARICOM, officials of the United States Embassy in Nassau held a reception in honour of the leaders of the Caribbean Community.
The U.S. -CARICOM Partnership Reception was held on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2023 at the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission’s Residence, and hosted by Charge d’Affaires Usha Pitts.
Present were the Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Chair of CARICOM; Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Fred Mitchell; Her Excellency Leslia Miller-Brice, Bahamas High Commissioner to CARICOM; and Dr. Carla Natalie Barnett, Secretary General, CARICOM; the 27-member U.S. Delegation led by Brian Nichols, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs; and John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. Other high level representatives from The Bahamas, the U.S. and CARICOM were also present.
“What a pleasure to be with you all tonight, as we celebrate the time-honoured relationship between the United States and the nations of CARICOM,” said Prime Minister Davis.
He extended heartfelt appreciation to the United States for its ongoing commitment to supporting the nations of CARICOM as member-states build a more secure and prosperous future for its people.
He also specifically thanked Mr. Kerry his “comrade in arms” for his continued support in the fight against Climate Change.
And, in his remarks, Mr. Kerry spoke about continued efforts to advance international cooperation among nations particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis. He also thanked Prime Minister Davis for the “extraordinary job” in hosting CARICOM.
Mr. Kerry said he has the privilege of representing US President Joe Biden and that the US is a part of the solution.
“It takes every country to be a part of this journey. We all have a vested interest to do what our citizens want us to do — deal with this issue — climate change. We are all in this together.
He was “looking forward to CARICOM becoming more important regionally and globally,” he said.
While observing that what happens in one country can have ripple effects on the entire hemisphere, the prime minister said all must work expeditiously to bridge the gaps and strengthen durable partnerships.
“My friends let me say once more, we stand to gain so much by coming together. The fabric of our societies is already interwoven. Our Caribbean sons and daughters are going on to do great things in the United States,” he said.
“It is no secret that ours is a shared history, and that our tomorrows are closely intertwined. More and more, the challenges we face are refusing to confine themselves to the boundaries of nation and region.”
According to the prime minister, together, all partners are better equipped to confront the existential threats of climate change, to pursue a people-centred approach to development, and to address social inequality in all its forms.
He also observed that unity would be the key in cultivating a just, equitable and prosperous hemisphere.
“We have already seen the power of cooperation proven by the success of CARICOM nations in lobbying for a loss and damage fund at COP27,” the prime minister said.
He pointed out that this is seen in the security partnership between the United States and The Bahamas, an enterprise that has endured since our independence in 1973.
And most recently, that partnership saw the donation of 20 new hybrid SUVs to The Bahamas – a contribution that will go a long way in assisting the crime-fighting efforts of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
On behalf of the Caribbean Community, the prime minister also acknowledged the $5.53million Pfizer vaccines in the fight against COVID-19, donated by the US in 2021, at the request of then Chair of CARICOM Dr. the Hon. Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
“For those gifts and many others, we say thank you. And we look forward to future collaboration not only in the realm of security, but trade, health, and human rights,” he said.
Added the prime minister, “As we, the leaders of CARICOM, zealously pursue the sustainable development of our respective territories, [we] know that the continued investment of the United States will go a long way in safeguarding harmony and strengthening resilience within our region.
“Collaboration in the areas of economic diversification, clean energy transition, and climate resilience is especially welcomed.”
Moreover, having just witnessed the “immense talent” of Barbadian singer Rihanna at the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, “I think it’s safe to say that the Caribbean-American connection is an impressive one, capable of astounding not merely at level of the hemisphere, but the entire globe,” the prime minister said.
Moving forward, he said he would be delighted to see new opportunities emerge for deepening cultural and educational exchange between the Caribbean and the United States.
“The future is certainly ripe for fresh enterprises in the sectors of tourism, education, and the orange economy, so let us innovate and endeavour to strengthen the existing ties between our regions,” the prime minister said.
“I look forward to sharing in the fruits of our labour and I trust ours is a partnership that will carry on promoting peace, stability, and wellbeing in the Americas,” he concluded.
“The work of Assistant Secretary Nichols will reflect the shared partnership, continued US support for The Bahamas, and improved coordination with CARICOM, as mentioned by Charge d’Affaires Pitts in her opening remarks.”
Kamala Harris to meet with Caribbean leaders in The Bahamas
#USA, June 5, 2023 – Kamala Harris, United States Vice President will journey to Nassau Bahamas in June for a top level meeting with Caribbean leaders, marking the first time she will visit the region since occupying office in 2021.
According to the White House in a statement, the meeting will bring attention to a range of regional issues. Harris and the Caribbean leaders will continue talks on the shared efforts to address the climate crisis, such as promoting climate resilience and adaptation in the region and increasing energy security through clean energy.
Additionally, the statement informed that Harris’ trip “delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean in pursuit of shared prosperity and security, and in recognition of the common bonds and interests between our nations.”
The June 8th meeting builds on and strengthens the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, which was launched by the Vice President and Caribbean leaders in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas as further mentioned by White House Statement.
PM Davis ‘confident’ that Revenue Outturn will near $2.9 billion
By ERIC ROSE
Bahamas Information Services
#NASSAU, The Bahamas, May 30, 2023 – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said in the House of Assembly, on May 31, 2023, that public revenue receipts were strong over the nine-month period of July 2022 to March 2023, due to legislative reform, effective policy decisions, strengthened economic conditions and more efficient collection efforts.
“Analysis of the trends of the first three quarters of this fiscal year, and the years prior, suggest that the government is potentially set to exceed the $2.85 billion target set forth in the February 2023 Mid-year Supplementary Budget,” he said, during his Communication on Budget 2023.
“I am confident the revenue outturn at the end of the Fiscal Year 22/23 will near $2.9 billion.
Public spending has remained on track, and is well within the budgeted amount,” Prime Minister Davis added. “For this reason I am confident that expenditure at end of the Fiscal Year 2022/23 will almost reach the target of $3.1 billion set in the Supplementary Budget.”
He pointed out that the primary balance will, therefore, record a surplus of $68.4 million at the end of the fiscal year, a $54.8 million increase from the $13.6 million surplus projected in the supplementary budget.
“Likewise, the overall deficit is expected to improve to $520.6 million, down from the $575.4 million outlined in the supplementary budget,” he said.
Speaking of Government financing, Prime Minister Davis said that The Bahamas’ borrowing costs had begun to experience a downward trend in the previous quarter; but the cost of borrowing rose at the end of March 2023.
“At the end of the third quarter, the total average cost of borrowing for current outstanding debt had risen to an interest rate of 5.55 percent,” he pointed out. “This is notably higher than the previous year’s rate of 4.93 percent at the end of March 2022.
“This increase in borrowing costs is primarily attributable to the higher costs associated with external loan facilities.”
He added that, more specifically, the average interest rate for external financing had risen by 1.99 basis points, resulting in a rate of 5.55 percent as of March 2023, compared to the preceding year’s 3.56 percent.
“Throughout the past year, the interest rate policies of the major Central Banks have been restrictive, with a series of interest rate increases,” Prime Minister Davis said. “These adjustments have been primarily motivated by the escalation of inflation, and the resulting upsurge in interest rates has had an impact on the Bahamas’ external borrowing costs.”
He added: “However, the cost of borrowing in the domestic market has been declining over the past quarters.
Looking at it in more detail, we can see that:
- The average interest cost for domestic loans subsided by 27 basis points to 4.62 percent at end of March 2023, from 4.89 percent in the previous year;
- And the average interest cost for domestic bonds subsided by 3 basis points to 4.63 percent at the end of March 2023 from 4.66 percent in the previous year.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that those statistics affirmed the Government’s latest medium-term debt strategy, which aimed to shift its borrowing away from costly external commercial debt.
“Such debt has seen a sharp increase over the past five years, including recent interest rate hikes,” he said. “This strategic move will enable the government to once again rely predominantly on the domestic market to meet its financing requirements.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, when considering the maturity of debt, or the average time it takes to repay the principal amount in the government’s debt portfolio, a longer maturity period led to a reduction in refinancing risk.
“In essence, prioritizing longer maturities is key to managing debt effectively,” he said. “And so another element of the government’s medium-term debt management strategy is the goal of prolonging the average maturity time of its debt.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, in the face of “unprecedented turbulence” in the global financial markets, the Government was able to maintain its average time to maturity.
“At end of March 2023, the average time to maturity has decreased slightly to 6.7 years, down from the previous 6.8 years in March 2022,” he said. “This variance is due solely to the external loan component, as the average time to maturity on internal debt has remained steady at 7.1 years.”
“This highlights the significance of maintaining a prudent approach to debt management, and aligning this administration’s practices with the government’s optimal debt strategy,” Prime Minister Davis added.
“It is imperative that we continue to exercise prudence in this area to ensure financial stability.”
(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)
PM states HCA model not working during budget debate
By ROBYN ADDERLEY
Bahamas Information Services
#FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, May 30, 2023 – The model of the Hawkbill Creek Act, the agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and the Grand Bahama Port Authority, is not working, said Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis during the opening of the 2023 Budget Debate on Wednesday, May 31 in the House of Assembly.
The island of Grand Bahama, he said, contributes 12 percent of the country’s GDP, however, there was a decline by 9 percent when compared to the previous year. Tourism, he said, increased in 2022 showing a growth in accommodation and food service.
“Unfortunately, the statistics show a prolonged decline in the Grand Bahamian economy. The evidence confirms the view of my government that the Hawksbill Creek economic model, which was meant to attract foreign direct investment, does not work.
“Furthermore, in our view, the government model of the Grand Bahama Port Authority must change, in order to realize the promise, growth and prosperity we all desire.
“Additionally, the Government of The Bahamas has serious concerns regarding the compliance of the GBPA and its related companies with the terms and conditions of the Hawksbill Creek Act, and its subsequent amendments.”
In the past, said the Prime Minister, administrations have attempted to address the issues however they appear to be “systemic and fundamental.” Decisive action will be taken, he continued, and a separate detailed announcement will be made at another time.
Prime Minister Davis mentioned that even though the GDP for several islands has experienced growth, Abaco and Grand Bahama have not done as well. Abaco, he said, saw a decline of 6 percent in 2022 with its contribution to the economy at 2.8 percent ranking the island as the third largest contributor.
“While there was a slight improvement in Abaco’s economy compared to 2019, it has yet to reach the levels seen before Hurricane Dorian. The decline in the economic activity is directly related to the slowdown in the real estate and construction sectors.”
He continued, “Declines in the real estate sector are directly as a result of a shift to higher intermediate consumption in 2022 from that of the previous two years. In terms of declines in construction, it should be noted that in 2020 and 2021, Abaco experienced significant recovery efforts in the form of debris removal, site preparation and building of damaged structures.
Such efforts bolstered the value added to the island’s GDP during those years. As those efforts wrap up, the industry saw a gradual decline as construction tempered to normal levels in 2022, resulting in a lower GDP.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said the Grand Bahama International Airport will be repaired, and a new healthcare facility will be built. Provisions have also been made for the continuation of an employment program for $4.7 million, along with the construction of a 50-meter swimming pool facility.
The House of Assembly has adjourned until Wednesday, June 7, when the debate will continue.
(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)
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