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International Monetary Fund
This report provides the details of the IMF's projections and estimates on The Bahamas's basic data; generation and sale of electricity, value of construction starts and completions in the real sector; summary of operations of the nonfinancial public sector, central government revenue and expenditure, summary central government operations in the fiscal sector; summary accounts of the financial system, accounts of the central and commercial banks and other local financial institutions, selected interest rates in the monetary sector; balance of payments, comparative real exchange rates in the external sector, and so on.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that economic growth in The Bahamas is estimated to have stalled in 2015, as a modest increase in air tourism arrivals was not sufficient to offset a contraction in domestic demand and weak exports of goods. Private consumption and investment were weighed down by headwinds from fiscal consolidation, as well as an end to construction. Inflation was moderate at 1.9 percent on average in 2015. Growth is expected to strengthen to about 0.5 percent in 2016, supported by continued growth in air tourist arrivals and moderating headwinds to private consumption and investment.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Context. Economic activity strengthened somewhat in 2014 while the external current account deficit worsened primarily as a result of Baha Mar construction-related imports. The authorities continue to make substantial progress on fiscal consolidation with successful VAT implementation in January 2015 setting the stage for continued improvements in the fiscal position. Lower oil prices helped keep inflation anchored in 2014. Still, notwithstanding the capital flow management (CFM) regime, international reserves remain low. Key policy advice: Despite the U.S. recovery and the imminent opening of the Baha Mar resort, the growth outlook remains well below pre-global crisis levels, and strong and timely measures should be implemented to strengthen competitiveness and raise potential growth. In addition, rebuilding fiscal and external buffers will be essential for sustaining macroeconomic stability: • Reigniting strong and inclusive medium-term growth. Structural reforms are needed to address longstanding competiveness issues including labor market impediments to growth. Energy sector reforms could substantially lower energy costs, boost productivity and facilitate economic diversification in the medium term. A diversification strategy should explore the potential for increasing value added in the tourism sector, including through deepening linkages with agriculture. • Rebuilding fiscal and external buffers. Notwithstanding the CFM regime, the fixed exchange rate peg constrains monetary policy, leaving fiscal policy as the main instrument for macroeconomic stabilization. Steadfast implementation of the VAT and expenditure rationalization in the context of a medium-term budgetary framework, together with public enterprise reforms, would help rebuild fiscal buffers and support international reserves. • Preserving financial sector stability. The pre-crisis credit boom has left the banking system with an overhang of non-performing loans, which will likely continue to generate headwinds for the economy. Despite this, the banking system remains very well capitalized and liquid. Measures should be put in place to resolve the debt overhang while further strengthening the regulatory and supervisory framework.

International Monetary Fund

Prudent macroeconomic management, strong growth, low inflation, small fiscal deficit, and public debt have helped The Bahamas attain the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. Executive Directors supported the government’s goals of balancing the budget and reducing debt. They encouraged the use of market-based monetary policy and tax administration. They emphasized the need of a macroeconomic policy framework, international reserves, and a strong financial framework. Directors appreciated the performance of the financial system and also for modernizing the regime to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.