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2005-05-17 10:24:34

Unemployment in The Bahamas Drops

Central Bank Governor also said that the economy is growing by 3 1/2 percent.

The unemployment rate has dropped from just under 10 percent to 7 percent, Central Bank Governor Julian Francis revealed while a guest on Love 97's "Jones and Company on Sunday.

In 2003, unemployment was recorded at 10.8 percent, which was a jump over 2002, when unemployment was 9.1 percent and 2001, when it stood at 6.9 percent. Records kept by the Department of Statistics show that 1975 had the highest level of unemployment, which was 21.2 percent.

Governor Francis also said that the economy is growing by 3 1/2 percent.

"I think it will grow at that rate for the rest of this year," he said. "It could even grow a little faster depending on how quickly some of the investment projects come on stream. Inflation continues to be entirely under control...If we can assume that the growth in the U.S. economy and Canada continues then it looks as though we are perched, I would say, for four to five years of good, solid growth potential."

Asked by the show's host, Wendall Jones, whether the present level of growth is due to the economic policies of the Government of The Bahamas, Mr. Francis, said, "Partly, yes.

"The Bahamas is viewed as a very promising, favourable, interesting environment today. It's also viewed as a sort of haven against some of the concerns which many people on the outside of The Bahamas have regarding quality of life generally and issues like security and so on. And that's one of the reasons why you have such strong interest in The Bahamas on the part of investors from a number of areas of the world."

He said The Bahamas is "hot" right now.

"When you have a positive signal, which is being sent to those investors from within and the investors are hot you have a potential there for a very strong period of development," Mr. Francis said.

News of declining unemployment figures is something government officials say will be a continuing success story.

Before his hospitalization two weeks ago, Prime Minister Perry Christie told The Bahama Journal that it's something his administration is proud of.

He said major investment projects will help to fuel thousands of employment opportunities.

"We are working on the third phase and ensuring that the framework exists for the third phase of Atlantis," he said.

"We're working on a transforming investment for Cable Beach and we expect immediately based on the commitment of the developers for all Bahamians to see within weeks the seriousness of these investors whose proposal is predicated on ultimately knocking down several of the buildings. But yet they are going to spend between $15 million and $20 million immediately transforming the area."

A key economic policy of the Christie Administration is creating an anchor development on each major Family Island.

The prime minister indicated that his government has made significant progress in this regard having already signed heads of agreement for developments on several Family Islands, including Abaco, Exuma, Eleuthera, Rum Cay and Crooked Island.

The prime minister also said that his government was finalizing negotiations with an investor wishing to bring a $1 billion development to Grand Bahama and another investor who wants to development a multimillion-dollar eco-friendly resort development on Mayaguana.

"No one could question the incredible opportunities that will exist by the creation of thousands of jobs initially in construction and permanent jobs for all of those who are now unemployed," Mr. Christie said.

By: Candia Dames, The Bahama Journal

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