Friday, April 1, 2011

GB an appealing investment prospect

Speaking before a group of potential investors in Calgary, Alberta, Canada earlier this week, Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing showed up the benefits of investing in Grand Bahama and The Bahamas as a whole, noting that Canada and The Bahamas have a long standing history.

"Canada is The Bahamas' second most significant trading partner. Canadians have been part and parcel of the economic and social life of The Bahamas since the country achieved independence in 1973," he said. "Canadian banks (Royal Bank of Canada, FirstCaribbean International – formally CIBC, and Scotia-bank) dominated the commercial banking landscape in The Bahamas."

Laing also said that Canadians account for a substantial portion of the second home market in the country.

Speaking specifically to Grand Bahama, Laing said, the island is an appealing investment prospect, noting that although the island has a population of only 50,000 residents, Grand Bahama has a fully developed air, sea, road and utility infrastructure that can accommodate up to 250,000 people.

"It has one of the world's most significant container trans-shipment facilities, the world's largest ship repair facility and the only privately owned international airport in the world. It is the industrial centre of The Bahamas and uniquely placed to entertain such investments, given its free trade zone status in the country," he said.

Laing supplied that over the past 20 years The Bahamas has enjoyed sound growth.

He noted that while Canada was one of the few countries to weather the global economic and financial crisis well, The Bahamas went into the crisis with one of the lowest debt to gross domestic product ratios in the region at 35 percent.

"While it had to use significant headroom to respond to the crisis in nurturing the economy and providing social relief to its citizens, The Bahamas today continues to have one of the lowest debt to gross domestic product ratios in the region, about 48 percent," Laing revealed.

He noted that the Interna-tional Monetary Fund has forecasted a growth of 2 to 2.5 percent in the next two years for the country.

Investments coming on stream in Grand Bahama such as a $500 million upgrade to the BORCO oil bunkering facility after $1.8 billion acquisition by Buckeye out of Texas, a $250 million upgrade to the South Riding Point oil bunkering facility in East Grand Baha-ma following the acquisition of its leasehold by Stat Oil and the construction of a new multimillion dollar power plant in Grand Bahama following the acquisition of majority stake in the local power company by Halifax based Emera and other investments taking place in New Providence are expected to enhance those growth prospects, Laing said.

"With improving global economic growth, particularly in the United States and Canada with whom The Bahamas principally trades, economic activity in the major areas of tourism and financial services are bound to increase and with it the fortunes of the economy," he said.

Laing added that the country has a bright future and that future can be further improved if potential investors take a chance on conducting business in the country.

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