by Andrew Allen
Bahamians of all political outlooks should be prepared to give credit to a governing party where and when it is due.
In the case of the heads of agreement signed with the I-Group for the development of Mayaguana, this government clearly deserves such credit.
Finally, it seems we will have a large-scale development that is not only a Bahamian/foreign joint partnership, but also involves local family islanders as direct beneficiaries of the master plan.
Especially encouraging is the proposal to develop "town centres" not just for second home owners, but also for local Mayaguanans.
But what is interesting is that the Prime Minister's televised comments on the good points of the agreement were tantamount to a concession of the dangers inherent in what is taking place in other projects initiated on his watch all over the Bahamas.
It is clear from events in Bimini, Abaco and elsewhere that the out islands have different challenges and greater vulnerability than New Providence when it comes to large-scale investments.
Nassau has a sufficiently large body of Bahamian businesses and entrepreneurs on the ground ready to take advantage of the opportunities/challenges that large-scale investment projects bring.
It also has a very large middle class, which acts as a social buffer between high-end condominium and second home owners and the more disenfranchised Bahamians.
But you have to look no farther than Harbour Island to see the ill-effects of large second home investments in places where no viable existing economy and hence no resultant Bahamian middle class are present.
There, you have a culture of direct dependency by the host community on the foreign residents, which leads to low ambition (where people are happy to be highly-paid maids), petty crime and a resignation by the locals to a glaring physical disparity between the foreign-owned areas and their own quarters. Briland, sadly, is half mansions half slums.
If that story is not to be repeated throughout the islands where "anchor" projects are proposed, then government had better get a handle on events on the ground from their inception.
The Mayaguana heads of agreement is a good start, but sensible Bahamians will now be looking forward to it becoming the rule, not the exception.