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We read recently in The Nassau Guardian that Dr. Perry Gomez, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) candidate for North Andros and the Berry Islands said that under a PLP government National Health Insurance (NHI) would be implemented within the first year of coming to office.  While we are in the so-called ‘silly season’ and everyone and their brother are making promises, we would hope that some of the promises would be well reasoned outlining the attended cost and consequences for the wider community; the usual rhetoric is just not acceptable this time around.  We believe that members of the Bahamian electorate are a bit more discerning than most politicians give them credit for.

What is NHI?

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Tourism, for more than half a century, has played a pivotal role in the economic development process of this country. It has accounted for most of the foreign direct investment, more than fifty per cent of direct and indirect employment, and has provided the necessary level of foreign exchange inflows to not only fund our insatiable import appetite but also to support the important one-to-one peg between the US dollar and the Bahamian dollar. In other words, unless and until we fix whatever is wrong with our Tourism industry (and fix it urgently), the economic and social dislocations currently being experienced in the country will continue unabated. Large numbers of skilled and semi-skilled Bahamians will join the unemployed labor force; unable to meet their debt commitments, they run the risk of losing their homes and other assets acquired during better times. Unable to provide the needed level of support for their immediate families, the inevitable household tension could rip families apart.

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The Ministry of Tourism’s February 2012  ‘The Islands of The Bahamas Arrivals Report’ contains some very useful and informative data on the tourist industry in The Bahamas and a lot more information on the economic performances of those countries from which our visitors originate.

The report, compiled by the ministry’s Research Department, provides a summary of total visitor arrivals to The Bahamas for the year 2011, in what appears to be a record-breaking total of 5.234 million. That figure is broken down further to show that only 1.29 million of those visitors (or about 25 percent) arrived by air.  

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After the market close on Friday, credit rating agency Standard & Poor's made good on its threat to downgrade US debt. In lowering the long-term sovereign rating from AAA to AA+, S&P cited their view that "the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges . . .". Adding insult to injury, they left the rating outlook as negative, warning that they could lower it to AA within the next two years if they see fewer reductions in spending, higher interest rates or new fiscal pressures that result in higher than anticipated government debt levels.

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For more than a year now the economic crisis in Greece has been a prominent feature in international financial publications. Greece is one of the smaller countries in the European Community (EC) but it is also one of the most highly indebted (followed closely by Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain).  Greek national debt to GDP ratio stands at about 120% and the budget deficit of 12.7% and growing has placed its fiscal position in jeopardy and the country is on the path to defaulting on its debt payments by the end of the year unless it is able to secure parliamentary approval for a bail-out package which was designed by the European Union and the IMF.

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CFAL, Third Floor, 308 East Bay Street, P.O.Box: CB 12407, Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas. Tel: 242-502-7010

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