National Elections are scheduled to be held in The Bahamas on May 2, 2002.
The Bahamas achieved Independence from Britain on July 10, 1973 with a new Constitution representing the supreme law of the land coming into effect at that time. This Constitution proclaims The Bahamas as a sovereign democratic state.
Executive power is vested in Queen Elizabeth II, as chief of state, with a Governor-General appointed to act as her representative in accordance with advice from the Cabinet. The Cabinet constitutes the executive branch of Government, is responsible to the Parliament, and comprises at least nine Ministers inclusive of the Prime Minister and Attorney General. The Governor-General appoints as Prime Minister the leader of the majority party in Parliament.
There is a bicameral legislature in The Bahamas, made up of an appointed 16-member Senate and an elected 40-member House of Assembly. The Senate’s members are selected by the Governor-General: nine on the advice of the Prime Minister, four on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and three with the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. Currently, there are 12 Government Senators and 4 Opposition Senators.
The House of Assembly is elected by district. The normal life of the Parliament is five years, but it may be dissolved at any time by the Governor-General, on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Presently there are forty Members of Parliament: Thirty-five (35) for the governing party, the Free National Movement; four (4) for the Opposition Party, the Progressive Liberal Party; and one (1) for the Coalition for Democratic Reform.
The Bahamas House of Assembly dates back to 1729, and represents one of the oldest of the representative legislative bodies in the British Commonwealth.
Elections were held last on March 14, 1997.
**Political Platforms Recognise Importance Of Financial Services Industry**
The two major political parties have released their platforms, the FNM its Manifesto 2002 and The PLP its Covenant, Plan 2002.
Both parties pay tribute to international financial services as second only to tourism in importance to the national economy.
The Governing Party has pledged to *”continue vigorous advocacy for a level playing field internationally in the provision of financial services”* while the Opposition Party indicates its intention of *”securing the financial services sector”* with specific references to maintaining the competitive advantage and repositioning the industry to better meet the needs of international financial markets.
Additionally, the Government and the Opposition Party both target areas such as the development of capital markets and enhancement of company registry services. Importantly for the financial services industry, both also commit to maintaining a tax neutral environment, with no introduction of income, capital gains or inheritance taxes.
Coalition + Labour, another political party contesting the upcoming elections, has promised a national strategy for financial services, focusing on the development of new products. According to its Contract 2002, the party will rely on effective policy management *”to ensure that the financial services industry continues as a major contributor to overall domestic production.”*