BFSB’s CEO & Executive Director Wendy C. Warren was part of a Bahamian delegation participating in the February 19-20 Offshore E-Commerce Strategies Conference in Toronto, Canada. Ms. Warren was a featured speaker on an Exclusive Jurisdiction Power Panel charged with “Pinpointing The Key Advantages of Leading IBCs for Offshore E-Commerce”.
Conference participants were advised that the Government of The Bahamas recognises that e-commerce necessarily “must be an important component of The Bahamas’ services sector going forward, and has therefore given priority to the development of electronic commerce and the transition of the society to an information-based, knowledge driven one”. Further reported was that the Bahamas Government has taken a very deliberate approach towards building a world-class infrastructure with the private sector building rapidly on existing strengths.
Citing this national commitment as the most important attribute positioning The Bahamas as a viable location for e-commerce, Ms. Warren also provided an additional checklist of positive factors:
-An independent nation with an independent judiciary
-A Government that is actively facilitating de-regulation
-In the short term, a country that will be one of the most fiber enabled nations in the region
-Access to this infrastructure that is expected to be at competitive rates
-The cost of telephone calls will be further decreased in the short term
-Located within 50 miles off the coast of Florida; this is equivalent to a 35 minute plane ride
-Easy access to the United States, Canada and Europe – there are many direct flights
-The Government is committed to the education and training process to ensure that Bahamians can compete in a digital world – 1/5 of the Government’s budget is spent on education
-A large pool of skilled local professionals with access to international personnel with growing specific skills to service an e-commerce related activity
-The Government’s revenue base is derived from import duties – our existing structure does not contravene OECD ring fencing concerns
-Steps already taken to resolve weaknesses identified by FATF
-Regulation focused on ensuring that the infrastructure is not abused
-The existence of a free trade zone with the availability of sufficient power and other utilities
-The encouragement of a digitally aware community by waiving the duty on computers, computer related and software products
-Participation in various trading blocks and regional regimes, including the Organisation of American States. Review of participation in FTAA and the WTO is in progress
-The establishment of a fully equipped data centre
-Proposed establishment of an air to sea fulfillment centre
-Electronic transaction processing from servers based in the Bahamas
The BFSB Official also took the opportunity to report on the recent financial services industry legislative restructuring, noting that in 2000 The Bahamas made a thorough and exhaustive review of its existing legislation, policies, procedures and practices. This resulted in the enactment of comprehensive legislation to strengthen the financial services sector and protect it from abuse. The new legislation reinforces the regulatory environment and clearly re-emphasises the responsibility of persons conducting business from The Bahamas to ensure that only legitimate business is conducted in and from the Bahamas.
“The legislative framework has implications for E-commerce as it reinforces that The Bahamas has never had an interest in attracting improper operations and will take all steps necessary to safeguard its infrastructure from mis-use. The Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of policies, both at national and international levels, to combat money laundering reported in February, 2001 that The Bahamas has made impressive strides with regard to its counter-money laundering regime”.
(A copy of the full presentation made in Toronto may be requested from BFSB’s Office – firstname.lastname@example.org)