Public Private Partnerships of The Bahamas
Utility services in The Bahamas were largely state owned until recently, including the long-standing Bahamas Electricity Corporation. The change of heart is thanks to Prime Minister Perry G. Christie identifying public-private partnerships as a means of financing The Bahamas’ estimated US$2 billion outstanding infrastructural work. PPPs have already been augmented in the port and shipping industries. In June 2013, speaking at the Conference on Public Private Partnerships in Infrastructure Development and Financing in Atlantis, Prime Minister Christie strongly suggested the exploration of PPPs in The Bahamas across a range of new areas, including agriculture, health, water, and electricity generation and distribution. Careful private investment via PPPs, he claimed, could be the answer to ‘better quality services and lower cost services’ for residents. The government believes that PPPs may better manage the 10,000 square miles of archipelagic space across which consistently improving public infrastructure has proved difficult.
Prime Minister Christie has voiced plans for the PPP construction of two major government buildings on John F. Kennedy Drive, in addition to planned improvements of the Rodney Bain building and the Ministry of Tourism. The refurbishment of older government buildings is sought as a favourable alternative to current wasted expenditure on rent for suitable working public sites. He also proposed an affordable housing initiative as part of this infrastructural programme.
There has been a considerable level of private construction in The Bahamas in the past ten decades. The scale of infrastructure demands means private investment through PPPs is now seen as a means of leveraging the government’s real estate towards the development cause. The Bahamas had previously agreed to the liberalisation of their services in a number of areas and to the transparency of procurement processes in the 2008 agreement by members of the Forum of Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM).