Addressing the Annual Banquet of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce last weekend, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham acknowledged that a more globalised economy is already a reality, and brings with it self propelling forces in support of liberalised trade and increased cooperation. Likewise, it brings increased opportunities, particularly in the area of services and information technology.

The success of The Bahamas in the area of services, particularly, has permitted it to enjoy the third highest per capita income among independent States in the Western Hemisphere, following only the United States and Canada, according to the Prime Minister.

“The Bahamas, will, I believe, come to terms with and adjust to global changes and find the best way forward to expand our special niche in the global economy”, said the Prime Minister, continuing “..the way forward does not, in my estimation, include the introduction of an income tax in this country in the foreseeable future. And I am confident that you and I can see very clearly, a very long way into the future, on that score!”

On the matter of the ongoing negotiations relating to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, Mr. Ingraham said he had conveyed to Colleague Heads of Government attending the Third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City during April that The Bahamas would be able to proceed with and remain in that initiative only on the basis of its full expectation that cooperation will extend much beyond trade — “…and that, in the FTAA, there will be special transitional provisions to take account of the special vulnerabilities of The Bahamas as a small service-based economy, reliant upon customs duty for governmental revenue.”

The Prime Minister also told Chamber members and guests that a key ingredient in the successful performance of The Bahamas in the international tourism and finance markets has been the excellent relationship of mutual respect and trusted interdependence that has evolved between the public and private sectors in The Bahamas. “Practitioners in tourism and finance have found that their recommendations and suggestions are welcomed by the Government and that, as a result, they are able to influence the development of policies conducive to the success of their sectors”.