Dear Mr. Christie
The Nassau Institute received the following e-mail yesterday December 4th.
“Bahamas Immigration is threatening investment by dragging its feet on residence and work permits, even for non-working spouses! We have been working to bring several projects to the Bahamas, and have lost one already, due to the investors' dissatisfaction with the immigration situation. We fear that we will lose others that are in the works.
“Is it the policy of the Government of The Bahamas to discourage immigration?
“Without immigration, there will be no investment from our investors. We have real businesses with real training opportunities that want to locate here, but are already reconsidering other options.
“There are other viable jurisdictions in the region. We chose The Bahamas because of its proximity to the USA and we were led to believe by investment representatives that The Bahamas is open for business.
“If we are forced to wait until 2003 for an answer from Immigration, after so many months of non-action, then we will be forced to relocate. We do *NOT* want it to come to this. We like it here – it is certainly better than Europe – but if we are unwelcome, then we will not further insult this honourable government with our presence.
“We have been warned that speaking out could result in retribution, which is rather odd, as we are struggling for permission to contribute to the Bahamian economy.”
Mr. Prime Minister, if you require evidence to stiffen your resolve to make changes to policies that have been hurting the country for years this letter can be added to your arsenal of evidence of the need for change. The writer’s frustration is clear and this letter is not untypical of others we have received in the past.
If this company decides to take their business elsewhere their name can be added to the very long list of discouraged investors that have either not stayed, or wound up their business and left. It is impossible to count the cost of such treatment in both dollars and a damaged reputation.
Your statement in the December 5th Tribune that “the government has grown too quickly, both in terms of its size and expenditure and its structure” indicates there may be hope for change. The government has become so bloated that it has turned into an anarchical structure of confused bureaucrats making decisions beyond their capacity or authority to act. Downsizing and disciplining the bureaucracies will cut costs and boost the economy.
The Nassau Institute compliments you on your determination to make the required changes in the hope that letters like the above become only a bad memory.
The Bahamas desperately needs to recapture the reputation it had prior to Independence, that of being a low cost, minimally regulated and open-for-business kind of country.
We hope it is not too late.