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Christie Points To Investment Dilemma - 1-, 2004 – 27: 1
''The question always is whether they are coming to our country because we are lax in our environmental safeguards or whether it is just a better environment.''

Prime Minister Perry Christie told delegates at the opening of the Inter-Regional Meeting on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on Monday that The Bahamas faces a major dilemma in determining the authenticity of some potential investors.

"Countries that are small are challenged like The Bahamas where you have the most complex industries seeking permission to locate in your country to manufacture either components of products or products for export," said Mr. Christie, speaking at the Radisson Cable Beach Resort.

He added, "The question always is whether they are coming to our country because we are lax in our environmental safeguards or whether it is just a better environment."

Mr. Christie pointed out that The Bahamas has done well in working to implement the mandates of SIDS countries for sustainable development but he added that as delegates seek to deal with environmental challenges they should not forget basic human needs.

"Climate change and sea level rise, natural and environmental disasters, management of waste, coastal and marine resources, fresh water resources land resources...yes all are very important," Mr. Christie said. "All very necessary for our focus and our harmonized agreement to act having agreed on a course of action to speak in unison to our donors to release the funds that have been promised."

Mr. Christie added, "But do not ever forget that as we broaden governance into these areas that those fundamental areas that impact the course of human development must be your priority."

Representatives of the 43-member SIDS group began reviewing the progress made by member countries in 14 key areas for sustainable development outlined in Barbados 10 years ago.

The meeting is a preparatory meeting for the Mauritius International Meeting for the Review of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

That meeting will take place in August.

United Nations Secretary General Anwarul Chowdhury said however that the expectations for international cooperation for the implementation of the Barbados Programme have not materialized and in fact has fallen severely short of those expectations.

"The overall disbursement of international assistance to SIDS have fallen from $2.3 billion in 1994 to $1.7 billion in 2002," Mr. Chowdhury said.

Mr. Chowdhury also addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS and its impact which is "making rapid inroads" into the regions of SIDS countries.

"Effective programmes at national and regional levels to contain this menacing disease must be taken up," he said

Mr. Chowdhury added that information technology will be a key tool in assisting SIDS countries.

"Deliberate and prudent use of information technology will go a long way in reducing the isolation of remote islands, enable them to deal more effectively with a host of constraints particularly in the areas of trade, development, health, education, security and technology transfer," Mr. Chowdhury said.

Some of the key areas delegates will seek a common position on during the Nassau meeting are good governance, security, trade and investment, health, sustainable capacity building and information and communication technology.

Julian Reid, The Bahama Journal