Bahamas the
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The Bahamas is not the world

Though many appear too trapped in jingoistic delusion to admit it, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas cannot survive in the world alone.

We need a great deal of assistance, money, ingenuity, goods and services produced outside this country to keep this country going.

Additionally, we are a very small country with a small population that does not have easily harvested natural resources.

There is no country on this planet that has remotely accessible resources where those with influence, money and might have not staked claim and extracted what was of value.

The Bahamas is no different.

Perhaps it is the fault of some politicians and carnival barkers who take advantage of the gullible and easily swayed on social media; those who have often sold the idea that some vast, untapped pool of self-contained wealth has been kept from us by myriad forces they can never seem to specifically identify.

If we are to continue to progress as a nation, we must disabuse ourselves of the notion that we can do it alone.

The trope of claiming foreigners get better treatment in The Bahamas is tired and lazy.

Aside from shamefully clinging to antiquated gaming laws and some citizenship issues, what rights and privileges can a foreigner claim in The Bahamas that a Bahamian cannot?

If land prices have escalated, it is not because foreigners are “buying up all the beachfront property on New Providence and Paradise Island” as we often hear.

It is because we live on a small island that generates the most economic activity in our country and is, therefore, where the majority of the country resides.

The population of New Providence, though comparatively small, has grown exponentially since independence.

We are producing more people.

We are not producing more land.

This is a case of basic supply and demand.

The Family Islands have vast tracts of affordable land that we do not hear Bahamians clamoring to snatch up.

To keep pace with the rising cost of land that is in short supply, food that we almost exclusively import and fuel that we do not produce, we have sensibly concentrated on economic growth.

We have grown so rapidly because we export our goods and services to visitors to our islands who enjoy their experiences here.

And well-capitalized global outfits see a value proposition in investing in The Bahamas whose laws ensure that Bahamians benefit along with foreign enterprises.

This may come as a shock to some Bahamians, but we are not the center of global commerce.

We are not even the main trading partner of concern of our closest neighbor and largest trading partner, the United States of America.

We have done exceedingly well compared to similar nations in our region.

This is not to say that we can’t do better.

Therefore, it is somewhat mystifying to see the leaders of the political directorate engage in such silly banter about travel budgets.

Yes, the current administration has increased the travel budget by more than $4 million to over $14 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

No, we do not believe Office of the Prime Minister Press Secretary Clint Watson’s glib justification for the frequency of the prime minister’s overseas trips, that because of his stance on climate change he is in high demand around the world.

The Bahamas is a business that must promote itself and its interests to the world – through marketing, conferences and indeed trips abroad.

If our government sits at home waiting for the phone to ring because ministers cannot possibly deal with a domestic issue if a periodic trip occurs, we will be in deep, deep trouble.

The prime minister must travel; this is how relationships are built.

Cabinet ministers must travel; this is how best practices, and opportunities for assistance and cooperation often come about.

This very day, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper, and Minister for Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis are in East Asia to meet with the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia upon their invitation to explore increased cooperation — a trip that will be well worth it, should it yield results.

We do not believe every elected official and their spouse should go on needless ventures at the expense of taxpayers for the thrill of it, but it is folly to squander opportunities for a new administration to interact with global counterparts after the isolation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bahamas is not the world, and we must not isolate ourselves from it.