Calling the Stafford Sands model of economic development “broken,” former Bahamian Attorney General Alfred Sears called for a new investment, trade and industrial architecture to level the playing field for investors seeking the same benefits and concessions as foreign direct investors.
“It is easier for foreign investors to do business in The Bahamas than Bahamian investors,” Sears said during a public lecture hosted by the National Progressive Institute on March 5. “In 46 years of independence, The Bahamas continues to operate according to the assumptions of the Stafford Sands Model, with a deepening systemic dysfunctionality and diminishing competitive position in tourism and financial services. In 2018, the macro picture of the Bahamian economy reflects a broken model.”
That model, Sears argued, “is now in crisis” as the current investment architecture increases the competitive advantages of foreign investors, who are generally the exclusive beneficiaries of incentives, concessions and state subsidies.
“Most foreign investors will have the benefit of unfettered access to global venture capital and the support of their respective export-import banks,” he said. “Bahamian investors, on the other hand, do not enjoy those advantages and are prohibited by law from accessing the cheapest venture capital from outside The Bahamas. There is no export-import bank in The Bahamas to incentivize Bahamian enterprises to become regional and international players.”