[Extract of his speech at the annual dinner for economic actors – see last sentence]
Now let me turn to our economic prospects and our high aspirations.
We are living in troubled and testing times. Several questions arise. Will we be agile enough to meet the severe tests ahead? What kind of growth should we seek? Should it not be more inclusive? And more equitable? We are trying hard to move into niche markets but is this enough? What else must we do to escape the middle-income trap, to be amongst the best small economies, not just in Africa, but in the wider world where our main competitors are to be found?
We have seen the likes of Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Ireland and others raising the bar to achieve GDP per capita, adjusted for purchasing power, more than twice the levels we have achieved despite our continued economic growth. Can we make the breakthrough? Are we prepared to do what it takes to do so? Continue reading
In 2007, our “democratising the economy” Government introduced the Aquatic Business Activities Bill which would have paved the way for the privatisation of our coastal lands, lagoons and inshore waters. Our friends at Kalipso ferociously opposed this legislation and it was shelved. However, its essential elements were sneaked into law as part of the Finance Act 2008 (Miscellaneous Provisions). Finance Acts are supposed to be for annual budgetary measures, but this one amended the Fisheries and Marine Resources Act (2007) to permit vast tracts of sea to be leased for aquaculture.
The privatisation of our collective heritage continues apace with the construction of ever more hotels to chase the self-destructive dream of 2 million tourist arrivals per year. Our challenge to the Ministry of Tourism about this suicidal policy remains unanswered. First, the northern islets were leased at heavily discounted rates to concessionaires (who just happened to be the ruling parties’ political agents) and now they are being gifted with areas of public beach on the mainland.