• Hubert Edwards

A ROUGH FISCAL YEAR BUT WHAT'S NEXT?


Hubert Edwards



May 17, 2021


INTRODUCTION


The gestation period for a human is nine months. In the life of a mother, this can seems like forever for a myriad of reasons. In the case of a country, that same time is but a blimp. However, in the midst of a pandemic and global financial crisis what happens can last for a lifetime. Generally, birth brings much happiness. The happiest person is likely the mother, the vessel through which the child arrives, full of potential and possibilities, ready for growth and significant achievements. Only a mother can truly appreciate the process of birth, an exercise of nurturing life characterized by discomfort and struggle, near unbearable pain then joy. With The Bahamas nine months into the fiscal year, there is an important perspective drawn from this phenomenon of childbirth. This can be summed up by asking, what the nation will birth at the end of this crisis. Like a pregnancy, the struggle and discomforts are real. Like a pregnancy, there are upheavals and pain to face. However, unlike a successful pregnancy, there are important differences; both the full extent of the pain and future joy of success are optional.


The government has rightfully highlighted the uptick in revenue and sought to position the output in a very positive light. One can appreciate why the government will seek to do this. There is certainly value in seeking to create an environment that shows signs of progress and improvement. The country and economy are, however, at an interesting point. With the length of the pandemic uncertain and the fiscal fundamentals off kilter, it is useful to ensure that a very balanced approach is taken on how the matters are discussed. The reality is while there is this moment of improvement things are still challenged. Here is why balance is important at this stage. Unemployment is high; personal productive capacity is being eroded as persons are forced to spend savings; while many companies are still moving forward the ultimate fall out is still not yet known. Despite the vaccination program, which is not being taken up as anticipated, there is a clear rise of a third wave and this is potentially complicated with the existence of variants. This is very important as a resurge could plunge the country into a repeat of the 2020 experience and, as will be seen later, a potential precipitous fallout in revenue which is currently improving.


Despite the current program, there must be concerns for access to more vaccines to cover the entire population, or at least a sufficient portion to secure critical mass. Based on my analysis of publicly available information, The Bahamas is nowhere close to the possibility of herd immunity. To date the country has secured 87,200 doses of vaccine. This translates to a potential coverage of 43,600, not taking into account expirations, which based on the take up cadence seems like a high possibility. Based on this, well less than 25% of the population will be covered, significantly below the levels posited by authority for securing heard immunity. This is further complicated by the level of take up by citizens and residents. It therefore places the country at a tenuous place and must continue to be a major factor in the public discourse. In my view, “normalization” will be elusive until at such point when a significant proportion of the population has been fully vaccinated. Against this backdrop, the level of uncertainty is at a vicious stage, generally for investors and doing business. With these in mind policy makers must work diligently to find the right tone and balance to not to throw undue gloom over the country but on balance not to oversell any uptick. An understanding and acceptance of the real issues facing the country, business and individual are important for planning and navigating the way forward.


NINE-MONTHS SNAPSHOT


Analysis of the recently released snapshot paints a haunting picture but not one which is unexpected by anyone who closely follows these issues. The information that was provided, from the perspective of an informed observer, was largely pedestrian in nature. It was a case of nothing happening here, at least nothing beyond what should have been expected. Revenue remains under severe pressure because of the health pandemic; expenditure is running parallel to or above “good years” levels; and national debt is at record levels. Nothing about this picture though should have been unanticipated. The deficit is just below $900M and is indicative of the possibility of seeing a deficit of as large as or greater than that projected for the current fiscal year, $1.3B. Typically, government expenditure runs in the range of $2.5B. From all indications, the trajectory on expenditure will place it in this region for the current fiscal.


While those in the arena will argue the outcome one way or another, the reality is that economically The Bahamas is struggling and will continue to struggle over the next few years because of what is happening in this moment. Consequently, the upcoming budget will be very telling for the country. Unlike moments in the past where the fundamentals dictated a particular course of action which was not take, if the country is to in fact birth anything for the future, this budget cycle represents a wonderful opportunity for the plans, policy, and pivots to be initiated. I fully understand and appreciate the pressure brought on by heighted focus on election. This moment, however, is time for country, it is a time for nationhood above everything else, and it is a time for the meeting of the minds and the unleashing of the collective Bahamian genius. To do otherwise in the face of overwhelming and compelling signals could lessen the potency of the timing and lengthen the inevitable period of hurting.


The big question that arises for me is will there be an investment of “a little pain” for the possibility of a future outcome which is in the interest of the greater good or will the energy of the election remove some of the potential sting, which in my opinion we should take now, from this cycle. I take great care to not make statements that can be seen as political. The reality is that whatever way the cookie crumbles, after a general election, the position issues will be the same. The country must take steps to rectify the challenges with the economy by fixing structural weakness, securing diversification across the economy and within existing industries, eliminating inefficiencies, improving productivity, breaking the back of the emerging debt trap, and placing the country on a growth trajectory. Anything less will be suboptimal.


In a generally bad situation, without deliberate action, we are often likely to miss existing positives or slivers thereof. The nine-months snapshot was not all gloom, though it remains generally gloomy. The first and most important metric, in my opinion, is the fact that quarter over quarter, revenue has shown improvements. This is important. A cursory review will easily show that the first quarter (July to September 2020) of 2020/21 fiscal year ended with revenue at a reported low of $300M. This was an approximate 50% compared to the third quarter of 2019/2020, by any measure a precipitous fall. The revenue position has improved by the third quarter to $556. Given the almost absolute lockdown of the country at that time of the year, we need not be bothered here with any noise created by seasonality. The change represents an 85.3% increase, though well below the third quarter performance of the previous fiscal by approximately $100M. This signals a level of economic recovery as the country opens up more and greater levels of inflows are being realised.


Another important output from the reported numbers is that despite the deficit widening to $878M and the fact that there will be a need for continued elevated borrowing, from all indications, the much-heralded possibility of entering an IMF program is not on the cards. Many would remember the declaration that “within one year The Bahamas will be in an IMF program”. Truth is the finances are very challenging, however, with the trajectory of revenue reversing from that “fall off the cliff” scenario suggested by the level of revenue around June 2020, the argument continues to lose potency. Back then, I was very clear that I was not in agreement with this position. I believe then, as now still that the range of fiscal option available to the country were by no means exhausted. This has been borne out by two things. Firstly, the government continues to access the credit market, even though this is at higher costs, and secondly it has yet to trouble the existing tax apparatus. We would be reminded that at the time the Governor of the Central Bank John Rolle, honestly noted that before creditors were harmed the country would levy new (or more) taxes on the citizenry. This is, however, certainly not the end of the debt related issues. Debt will continue to loom large for the country over the next few years and represents one of the most important economic factor that must be corralled for the country to thrive.


Resilience is a stated objective of the current administration. True resilience is achieved through an effective marriage of the public, private and social sectors. While at a huge cost, the government has arguably shown great commitment in supporting the social sector. While there are still notable deficiencies, expected in the face of limited resource, support for the small businesses sector, primarily through initiatives managed by the SBDC, has been commendable. While this has exerted pressure on expenditure the take away is that the country has some level of capacity in this area. Over the course of the pandemic significant resources have been redirected to social services support in the face of economy lock-downs and high unemployment. Contrast and compare with other countries in the region where this kind of support lasted for six months or less. The Bahamas has been able to, with adjustments and in instances hiccups; provide support for well over one year though a variety of programs. Here we will not argue the efficacy of the programs but simply look at this as a positive to take away.

As I wrote before, “The possibility of economic recovery for the Bahamas stretching out to 2024, as stated by Moody’s, is not a comfortable proposition but one that should not be dismissed. The restoration of the Bahamian economy will not be easy but is very urgent.” - The Path To Economic Resilience – A Case For Growth (https://www.nlsolutionsbahamas.com/post/the-path-to-economic-resilience-a-case-for-growth). Take away, we are in this for some time yet. The piece also highlighted the importance of securing resiliency. “The resilience desired must rest on a foundation of a strong and innovative commercial sector; strong and supportive public sector; and strong and efficient social sector. Each of these must be operating at or near optimal potential, undergirded by innovation and strategic investment in the growth of the economy. The sectors must be aligned and operating with significant effectiveness and efficiency and in evidence must be a public sector, which is responsive, nimble enough, well-structured and certain, disciplined and proactively facilitating. To solve the problems faced by The Bahamas, sound treatments have to be brought to bear on growing debt, low growth, the concentration of export earnings and addition of new revenue sources, low productivity, and public sector reforms. The country needs a more resilient economy, a broader fiscal space and a deeper economic breadth”. This is the same argument being made here. Currently all sectors are struggling but good news, at least the social sector appears to have the ability to move along at a cadence which has so far ensured that there isn’t a total crash in that area.


Outside of the numbers, there are a few initiatives that will positively affect the economic conversation. A number of initiatives designed to improve transparency and effectiveness of Public Financial Management in the country. The impending coming into force of the Public Financial Management Act 2021; Public Debt Management Act, 2021; Public Procurement Act, 2021; and Statistics Act, 2021 and progress observed as it relates to the Freedom of Information Act; decisions to adopt accrual accounting for public finances all argues well for greater transparency going forward. Given the economic situation, the concentration of debt and uncertainty around the totality of government debt, including contingencies and guarantees, these developments are set to firstly provide more and better-quality information and secondly radically shift our view of the true state of public finances. While the latter is not likely to be “positive”, it represents a necessary treatment if a honest, transparent and well-informed suite of debt management and fiscal strategies and reforms are to come to bear of the current state of affairs. One outplay is that the citizenry will be better informed to judge the strategies of government and there should be greater discipline exerted on the government financial machinery. Additionally it is clear that the administration is making small but important steps in its digitization ambitions. Progress made in the area of digital currency hold potential for framing a more facilitative and efficient infrastructure for commerce. With the ambition of a global roll out by summer, this could be ground shifting.


FIXING THE CHALLENGES


While there will be an understandable impulse to ignore matters such as these in light of very challenging finances, these matters should not be downplayed. The reason they are so important is the value they hold for the country going forward. Growth and development will be highly influenced by the institutional changes we make and the national competencies developed. The desire to shift to accrual accounting, for example, has an often unspoken implication that with its implementation issues such as corruption and wastage in public finances will be positively changed. The immediate improvements desired may not actually materialize in the near term. There are no panacea. What it will take to change the fortunes of the country and change its trajectory is a fundamental shift in approach and how the national conversations are done. Recently, during a discussion in a local forum, in response to the type of responses needed to address debt, expenditure and a balance budget, I made the following statements, lightly edited here for grammar and understandability, in quotes below.


“I believe there is a need for some clear public discourse on where we are as country and where the economy sits. The fixing for the future is difficult and demands urgent acknowledgement.” This is one of the most important output from the reforms stated above. They have all been meandering on the horizon for some time. They collectively have the capacity, properly implemented, to paint a truer picture of the state of the country’s finances. All presentation of government financial information is taken with a footnote because of the cash basis currently employed. My point in the forum continued, “There are some significant tensions at play and we must assess these through the lens of the construct and fundamentals of the economy itself, how it is designed to work and the fundamental underpinnings thereof. The Bahamas is currently either in or flirting with a vicious cycle of debt and borrowing. Some aggressive estimates, taking into account contingencies would place Debt-to-GDP (on the basis of $11.5B economy as projected by the IMF) at near 100%.” With debt of $9.5B and having regard for contingencies such as public services pension, guarantees to certain state-owned enterprises, it is not unreasonable to assume additions of at least $2-3B. Even if you do not accept this argument, it is likely that the upcoming budget cycle will demand debt at least consistent with the current fiscal year. That alternative position still takes us to 100%.


“The economy is built and driven or controlled by a pegged exchange rate which demand a level of reserves. Without robust flows of foreign exchange, this is going to be under pressure, as evidenced currently. One may disagree with such a statement, however, in my opinion where debt is needed to shore up a position that is pressure. That said, it is logical, given the current state of commerce and trade, or rather the lack thereof that this pressure exists. Without a robust tourism sector, this will always be challenging. The debt levels therefore, with any longer term depression of the tourism sector, could spiral into areas seen in some of the southern countries of the region.” To make the point allow me to present exhibit A and B, Jamaica and Barbados. Both countries eventually found themselves wrapped in the embrace of an IMF program. Both are present clear lessons that we should take note of. I am aware of a quick refrain by some persons who ask, “What can they teach us”. While I will not challenge the maturity of that statement here, it is sufficient to say look at the things that have gone wrong, that led to the weaknesses in those economies and seek to avoid them. Earlier I highlighted, with great delight, the fact that The Bahamas chances of being in such a program at this time is low. It should be remembered that both Jamaica and Barbados are reasonably more diversified than The Bahamas. Both economies have more compelling reasons for matters of devaluation [or peg shifting given that Barbados too is also pegged to the USD at a ratio of 2:1], deep austerity, etc. due to the presence of robust export sectors. These factors are not in favour of the Bahamas and as a result, the outcomes could likely be very, very painful.


How therefore do we fix the current challenges? How urgent is the fix needed? Do we, as a country, have the capacity to fix the challenges? On the first question, I do not know. The fact that we are seeking to solve what is akin to a mathematical problem but must hold multiple aspects of it fixed, makes the resolution difficult. In The Bahamas, we are effectively always solving for the peg via the reserves. Looked at in this way, it is easy to understand that if there are constant foreign exchange inflows then the country is good or at least okay. If there is no foreign exchange inflows then the only alternative is to borrow or not spend. The latter has its own set of implications for the production of public goods and services, at a minimum. As noted above where I cited Jamaica and Barbados, simple austerity will not work as in other economies where the exchange rate is allowed to find its own level in response to new taxes, reduced spending, curtailed production, etc. There is absolutely no value in the Bahamas experiencing a devaluation [actually a policy decision to adjust the pegged exchanged rate] or at least no good reason. Even if the Bahamas employed austerity measures, and arguably, there is currently some measure of austere strategies being employed, there is always a need for foreign exchange inflows at a certain level. That portion of the equation will keep sending us back to the credit markets to borrow, clearly an unsustainable reality.”


“On the second question, how urgent is the fix? Everyone who is paying attention understands that it is very urgent. What we are currently seeing is a buildup of "critical mass", which from a debt perspective is a massive negative. More importantly the current situation demands foreign exchange borrowing which is tipping the scales on the traditional debt structure of the country.” Recently we heard a local CEO challenge the government to be careful with the ratings of its debt as local investors run the risk of taking paper losses that may be a dissuading factor in deciding whether to take on more government debt. “Historically B$ borrowings outstrip USD. This remains the case currently but the space has narrowed and will continue to narrow until the economy starts to produce sufficient foreign exchange inflows. This introduces a very delicate reality. The proportion of income that will now go into debt servicing, over the next few years at least, shifts the productive capacity of the country, this though is not fatal as debt management/restructure strategies can/could make a difference, and with improved economic activity create a better reality.”


“The third question, do we have the capacity to fix it? In my humble option yes, as a country we do! However, this will come with pain; it will require collaborative actions; it will demand accepting some truths about the current structure of the economy; it demands urgent and consistent focus on the structural weaknesses, which are all well known; and importantly it demands very serious strategic action to help prepare the national infrastructure and framework for the future. There are no quick solutions. This is really where public discourse is needed the most. This view, if correct, must make its way into the national conversions; it must constantly be reflected in policy discourse and fundamentally so; seen in leadership pronouncements; and evident in discussions about future leadership and governance. The way forward is neither easy nor clear. We must accept that and state it as such. If we were to do otherwise, we may unwittingly understate or underestimate the efforts required to move the country forward. The reality though is that the challenges faced will be agnostic to any administration. I would not proposed that one grouping or another cannot propose superior strategies or have better execution in one area or another, this would be juvenile thinking. What though is true is that as a country we are confronted today with a set of circumstances that tears at the root of our economic arrangements, exacerbated by many years of neglect in addressing the things that helps the economy run more efficiently and effectively. A significant part of the capacity of the country to fix the challenges current faced, therefore lies in the commitment to acknowledge the level of difficulty and make the requisite fundamental changes.”


“Finally, the idea of a balance budget in the near term for The Bahamas is in my opinion not on the cards. It is important to appreciate that as good as it sounds, striving for a balance budget may itself be a bad strategy at this point in time. The current pandemic has taken away approximately $2B in GDP, the social sector [cited above as being important for economic resilience] is under pressure with high unemployment, and there is great uncertainty from a FDI perspective. I believe that policy makers will be forced to make some tough calls in the near term with the potential for increased taxes and its attendant "worries" that it would impose on the psyche of the country. Borrowing is therefore firmly on the cards. The shift needed and our benchmark should become how do we secure real return on investments derived through borrowings and how those investments are strategically deployed to be facilitative of future growth, unlocking greater productive capacity. We are at an interesting crossroads. The question is whether this is a tipping point and how can it be managed away from the creation of a vicious cycle to one that is more vitreous.” The impending budget presentation for 2021/22 fiscal year will be an unusually important moment in the life of the country. I believe, without delineating what may be pronounced, that the extent to which this process succeeds will be characterized by demonstrated willingness to make hard decisions, make the tough calls and inject bold strategic moves that are at great tension with competing shorter-term objectives.


THE UPCOMING BUDGET CYCLE


There are some concerns as we move into the budget exercise. In the midst of the pandemic, significant effort was expended, especially through the work of the Economic Recovery Committee. There were a number of recommendations proffered. The concern here is the urgency with which some of these have been addressed. There is a view that some of this is driven by perception. This perception though is created due to a lack of clear communication. We are aware of some areas that are in early stages of implementation. The important point here though is that the upcoming budget cycle will need to demonstrate greater urgency and a clear strategic path for the implementation of any viable recommendation accepted by the administration. This is important as it plays into the administration stated desire of creating generational shifts in the economic arrangements.


Analysis of the nine-months snapshot shows that in every category of taxes the performance is either at or below prior years. The major sources of taxes VAT and Trade are all showing reductions, as expected. The main taxes on goods and services, which generate over 70% of total revenue, is down by over $400M. VAT, the juggernaut of all taxes down by 36% with total revenue performance at approximately 70% of budget. While this largely confirm discussion on where the deficit will settle and potential growth of debt, I note it here to highlight the base on which the budget planning is taking place as we speak. This weakening demonstrates some of the challenges ahead. Overall, up to the third quarter, revenue is off budget by $527M with expenditure over by $100M. My “back of the envelope” extrapolation, making gut adjustments, suggests a deficit in the ballpark of $1.5B. This budget must solve for these issues, contemplate growth, and address the tensions with the impending election. This is by no means an easy matter but certainly possible.


With national debt at or near $10B and more needed, with the proportion of $B to USD changing from historical levels, a suite of well-defined treatment and programs will need to be brought to bear on the current situation. I hasten to admit that this will not be easy. As we have discussed to this point the fiscal fundamentals are not currently in a positive place. As we look across the region and world, the economic climate is not highly conducive to growth. The path forward therefore is not easy to broker. The range of options are limited and difficult. I believe that the current debt position will make the temptation for raising taxes very high. However, I would not readily conclude that there will be tax increases, having regard for all the issues that are currently at play. Regardless, we must not lose sight of the fact that with record levels of debt, a narrow tax space, perennial low growth and now depressed normal revenue flows, new and additional taxation cannot be taken off the table.


The issues faced by the country and the administration just got a little more interested. The largest employer outside of government has made Seven hundred employees redundant. Put another way, for emphasis of the importance of this event. The largest non-public sector employer, operating in the most significant industry, tourism, an organization which tend to set or trigger industry behaviour, an entity with significant institutional and industry knowledge and deep strategic planning and forecasting experience just initiated a treatment of redundancy across its workforce. On the heels of the release of the nine-moths national economic performance, at the point where there is cautious optimism creeping back into the economy, This major commercial behemoth just terminated ten percent of its workforce with a fair bit of uncertainty as to whether this is the full extent of the effort. Whether this signals a need to reassess the outlook or not it is indicative of the type of knowledge the administration will be taking to the preparation of the budget. We must be mindful that the extent of this exercise typically involved government being forewarned. The new budget cycle will therefore need to continue to solve, at a deeper level, additional shocks to the social sector. A prudent planner is likely to assume that before the turn around, which I believe will be here in the not too distant future, there will be more hemorrhaging.


The upcoming budget has another overarching important problem to solve. That problem I am terming the “Debt Trap” a matter that can only be fixed by growth without significantly hurting the economy and country. Without growth, it is difficult to pay down debt and stop borrowing as we have generally done to date. This does not suggest no borrowing but instead more focused borrowing than simply making up the deficit year after year. With growth, debt becomes less significant relative to GDP. With growth, tax base broadens. With growth, there is wider employment. I believe that there is no other recipe for advancing any economy other than growth and this holds true for The Bahamas. In this lies an outline of the roadmap forward and highlights the difficulties involved. The new budget must reach for growth no matter how crazy this may seem, the debt has to be tackled and there must be a focus on the quality of government revenue and an acknowledgement that each of these are made exponentially more difficult be the current crisis we are experiencing. This will be akin to a delicate walk on a knife’s edge.


If I were asked to propose what to expect in the upcoming budget my first reaction would be to be very circumspect and not propose anything in absolute terms. With that caveat in mind, these are the points I may lay out:


· Increased taxes. Revenue is under pressure and so there will be a desire to increase taxes. The current environment, with depressed economic performance does suggest otherwise;


· A clear program of debt management with attendant impact on areas such as capital spending;


· Increased support for the social sector to address increased unemployment and displacement of workers. In assessing the need for this it is important to be reminded that the trigger for redundancies has been held in abeyance, a move that in my opinion made and continue to make great sense. The benefit expected from a turnaround of the economy will not be, in my view, sufficient to make the situation a zero sum game and consequently even with improvements there will be some unemployment fall out.


· Continued support for the private sector especially MSMEs through the auspices of the SBDC. With potential further increase in unemployment this becomes and absolutely important mechanism though which fiscal policy can support the economy;


· Support for SOEs, likely not at the level of need, but given their current challenges such funding must be contemplated;


· Continued curtailment of capital spending when considered against longer-term historical levels. There is though the possibility of an uptick, compared to recent cycles, to facilitate new capital projects either already announced, foreshadowed or “brand new”;


· Increased debt and interest payments, being a natural outturn from the current position and future borrowing needs;


· Some pronouncement around BPL. The provider of the ubiquitous energy input for economic growth has some seemingly fundamental challenges. The variety of disruptive ways in which these materialize suggest (or remind) that it ought to become a focused target for remedial treatment. To do otherwise is to court an impending price well beyond the confines of monetary resources and disruption the country cannot afford as it seeks to move along the path of recovery. Lessons and examples are available where the trajectory of challenged power suppliers were changed and those communities benefitted. I would anticipate that some level of attention would be given to this SOE, at a minimum from a policy perspective; and


· There could be programs designed to boost employment either directly or through the private sector or more likely a combination of both. This will have an impact on expenditure but further strengthen social support efforts.


Any forward-looking discussion or predictions around the budget, which does not do so within the context of the upcoming election would be juvenile and naïve. The budget has to be seen in the context of the elections. One must assume that the incumbent administration will not do anything which is likely to hurt their chances of being re-elected and look at differently will do whatever is possible to enhance the potential for same. With the recent declaration of being behind on its agenda, and in the context of the forgoing, it is reasonable to assume that a number of lagging projects could be brought to the fore together with new initiatives designed to secure early gains and capitalize on the slow but progressing opening up of the global economy.


CONCLUSION


The economic state of affairs for the country is very challenging. We are faced with a moment of supreme importance for its future. It is my view that this moment not only demands the taking of some hard decisions but that it screams out to the good sense of all for collaborative approaches to finding the solutions. The extent to which the fortunes of the country will change is in the hands of the entire citizenry. This recognition calls for leadership that will call for active engagement and inspire the effort going forward. We have big challenges but also glorious opportunities to build for a better and more resilient future. The extent to which each individual aligns himself or herself with that kind of thinking is fundamental to what will be achieved.


The positives seen in the current snapshot, limited they may be, has to be built on. The big message is that things are not static and there will be positive changes in the world eventually. The question we must ask and answer is how well positioned is the country to capitalize on that eventuality. The current challenges should be seen as a gestation period, a necessary time of strategizing, changing, fixing and building for the future delivery of a state pregnant with potential, possibilities and improved capacity. Failing to do what is necessary will render the inevitable pain and suffering wasted. The pandemic in my opinion has provided a rich scenario and analysis of the things that require remedial action and where the weaknesses and deficiencies lie. To ignore these issues would be to waste the potential of the crisis we are facing.


The circumstances are challenging but it should not be seen as all doom and gloom. There are some clear paths that must be taken to make the circumstances better, even though the payoffs are for the longer haul. None will be easy, and all come with notable complications and potential pain. The solutions that I can envision will require adjustments at all levels and modifications to what normal looks like up to now. I believe that the upcoming budget cycle represents a pivotal opportunity to make the necessary shifts, to articulate the required strategies and policies, to set the tone needed to dominate in the future.


Given all the issues considered herein, it is fundamental that the moves are clothed with urgency while being well thought out, carefully strategized and intentionally implemented at every step. As stated, I am fully convinced that The Bahamas has the ability and capacity to solve its problems, every single one. Now as a country and as a government it cannot be done alone, support will be needed, external investors are required, local investors must be facilitated and growth must be directed at serving the international market in a bigger way. These are necessary and possible and therefore failing to take the requisite actions now with a singular mindset that, it is time to flex the national collective muscle in favour of whatever it is that we desire the future of the country to be. That must be the focus. Every act must be prefaced with honest and easily observable thinking that this is a flexing of the collective muscle, for the greater good.



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© Hubert Edwards 2021


Hubert Edwards is the Principal of Next Level Solutions Limited. Hubert specializes in finance; internal controls; enterprise risk management; governance, risk and compliance (GRC), with over twenty years of experience in corporate governance, policy and procedures development, enterprise risk management, regulatory consulting, anti-money laundering and strategic planning.


He is a former Deputy Managing Director, Chief Business Development and Strategic Planning Officer at a commercial bank. Former Senior Manager Audit and Regulatory Consulting with a Big Four firm. He holds a MBA and LLB, with honours. He has lectures and trains on topics such as anti-money laundering and compliance; internal controls; corporate governance; and risk management.


Edwards is the Founder of HubertEdwardsGlobal and Success Summit. He a radio and television host and is the producer and host of the radio show The Essentials! in addition, he is a regular radio and television commentator on economic and financial issues.


To book an appointment for consulting assignment, speaking engagement, coaching or mentorship please follow the link: https://www.nlsolutionsbahamas.com/contact-us.


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