Author: Nassau Institute

Bahamas Government and Opposition agree Public Education is a Failure. What now?

Recently The Tribune quotes Dr. Bernard Nottage’s, speech when he informed parliament that “Society is in crisis as “far too many Bahamians” leave school without the necessary skills either to join the workforce or go on to further education.” Dr. Nottage is the PLP representative for Bain & Grant’s Town. As Minister of Education for the PLP he must have known the education system was not up to standard. Now as a member of the opposition he confirms what he must have known then, but failed to fix. Perhaps Dr. Nottage suffers from a form of narcolepsy, clinically described as Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and “Sleep Attacks”. It appears he may have awakened to the reality that he has been asleep for too long and something must be done. What will be done? That will be is anybody’s guess. Parliamentarians have access to information not available to the general public. The recent exception is the privately funded report “The Learning Crises” by Ralph Massey and circulated by The Nassau Institute. To our knowledge it is the first and only comprehensive overview of the Bahamian education system made widely available. Years ago when addressing the poor standards of education in the US Milton Friedman wrote: “a stable democratic society is impossible without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens” [Capitalism and Freedom, p. 86]. He...

Read More

Crisis in Paradise: The Bahamas at the Start of the Post-Tourism Era

Dr Dexter Johnson’s new book (Crisis in Paradise – The Bahamas at the Start of the Post-Tourism Era) offers his proposals to address the country’s problems, but they are based on conspiracy theories and predisposed to bigger government. Dr Johnson certainly turns a few good phrases – like referring to the tourism industry as the “plantation”, and suggesting that successive governments have used it to control Bahamians. He makes the point, repeatedly, that farming and fishing are the ways to broaden our economy from the twin pillars of tourism and banking. But over the years taxpayers have built fish houses and packing houses, while farmers have received public subsidies, all of little or no avail. There may well be a crisis in paradise, but it’s more than likely because of too much politics and government, not a lack thereof. Can farming or fishing help broaden the economy? Of course. Fishing is already the third pillar, so farming could probably be the fourth. Should they be subsidised with taxpayer dollars? Absolutely not. In any event, no amount of sweet-talking by politicians or grant money from the taxpayers will make that happen. Unless and until entrepreneurs decide they can make money at it, there’s little hope of success. In 2002 The Nassau Institute released a newspaper supplement in response to the labour laws that were being implemented at the time, and...

Read More

The Bahamas Needs Free Markets, Not a Government “Plan” For Recovery

In his column of March 18, Dr. John Rodgers offers a four point plan for helping the Bahamas emerge from the current recession. His plan is a mix of a few good ideas, some not so good ideas, and an overarching but misguided faith in the ability of government to guide the process of recovery and growth. In particular, Rodgers refers at the start to “the failure of the free market system” as a cause of the current recession.Nothing could be further from the truth, as several of his own arguments illustrate later in his article. In fact, the path toward economic recovery involves releasing the forces of free market capitalism from the government shackles that have prevented the Bahamas from having the sustained economic growth that Rodgers hopes to achieve. Below, I offer some criticisms of his plan as well as some alternatives that Bahamians might consider as they debate these important issues. The most important and correct point that Rodgers raises is proposing an end to the exchange controls on the Bahamian economy. As he notes, the Bahamas is one of the few places in the world that still has such controls and they have a dramatic negative effect on trade, especially internationally. Exchange controls do indeed increase the cost of raising funds from outside the country, forcing entrepreneurs to pay more, and have to look hard...

Read More

Mr. Zhivargo Laing, The Bahamas Minister of Finance Gets it Wrong Again

Back on November 23, 2009 The Tribune Business quoted Mr. Laing regarding the Bahamas Governments recent debt issue of a $300 million sovereign bond. The Minister of Finance is quoted as saying: “Our level of foreign currency debt is less than 10 per cent of our GDP” “There is no objective analyst in the world who would regard this as problematic. The Bahamas stands as unique in that regard – that low level of foreign currency indebtedness. Our indebtedness, as a ratio of debt-to-GDP, remains a far cry from many in the developing world.” “…Once this is done. [Foreign currency debt] will be of the order of $600 million.” There was also the obligatory comment that the government is borrowing in US$ so they don’t crowd out private sector B$ borrowers. All these comments reflect omniscience of the anointed, but I suggest they are intended to allay widespread concern that the government has lost its way where our fiscal policy is concerned. Remember their Manifesto 2007 promised adoption of a “Balanced Budget” yet two years on, extraordinary debt offerings are now required just to finance little more than government payroll. Now I know we are facing a huge world wide recession and I’m glad it’s Mr. Laing and his colleagues that have to face the economic problems the country faces and not me, but had they not burdened the...

Read More

Commentary: The Bahamas Needs Markets Free From Government Intervention, Not a “Plan” For Recovery

In his column of March 18, Dr. John Rodgers offers a four point plan for helping the Bahamas emerge from the current recession. His plan is a mix of a few good ideas, some not so good ideas, and an overarching but misguided faith in the ability of government to guide the process of recovery and growth. In particular, Rodgers refers at the start to “the failure of the free market system” as a cause of the current recession. Nothing could be further from the truth, as several of his own arguments illustrate later in his article. In fact, the path toward economic recovery involves releasing the forces of free market capitalism from the government shackles that have prevented the Bahamas from having the sustained economic growth that Rodgers hopes to achieve. Below, I offer some criticisms of his plan as well as some alternatives that Bahamians might consider as they debate these important issues. The most important and correct point that Rodgers raises is proposing an end to the exchange controls on the Bahamian economy. As he notes, the Bahamas is one of the few places in the world that still has such controls and they have a dramatic negative effect on trade, especially internationally. Exchange controls do indeed increase the cost of raising funds from outside the country, forcing entrepreneurs to pay more, and have to look...

Read More

.