With today’s appointment of the Hon. Allyson Maynard Gibson as Minister of Financial Services & Investments, a new Cabinet post, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has addressed one of the key issues it identified for the country’s financial services sector in its election campaign.

In our next newsletter we will highlight the new Minister and her responsibilities.

The PLP had said it would:

* Appoint a person of Cabinet rank to head the promotion of the Financial Services Industry and significantly increase the budget for financial services promotions.

* Review the new financial services legislation and ensure that amendments are made: (a) to remove all unconstitutional features that presently appear; (b) to streamline and reduce the paperwork requirements that apply under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act and other related statutes.

* Ensure that the legislative policy of The Bahamas in relation to the financial services industry is designed by the government in close consultation with local industry professionals.

* Maintain the pre-eminence of The Bahamas in offshore private banking by ensuring that the confidentiality rights of legitimate customers are robustly protected.

* Ensure that The Bahamas does not introduce income tax, corporate taxes, capital gains taxes, inheritance taxes or any other tax that would be a disincentive for legitimate investment from abroad.

* Provide the necessary funding and administrative support to improve the country’s company registration system.

* Expand the network of bilateral and multinational co-operation in the fight against drug trafficking, money laundering and other serious crimes.

* Mount and sustain an aggressive public relations campaign in the major onshore markets in an attempt to recapture The Bahamas’ share of the international market for offshore services.

* Commission a study to determine the viability of phasing out the system of exchange control.

* Enact legislation to give the Central Bank independence in matters of monetary policy so as to give the Governor greater authority to maintain parity of the Bahamian dollar with the American dollar.

* Develop regional initiatives under the auspices of CARICOM, the OAS and, if need be, the United Nations, to mobilise regional and world opinion against any who seek to undermine the sovereignty of The Bahamas.

* Require the appointment of the Governor of the Central bank to be subject to security of tenure along the same lines as the Auditor General.

* Review the rates of taxation on owner-occupied residential properties, ensuring that no owner occupied residence will be taxed beyond a maximum of $35,000 per annum. This will encourage the further development of luxurious winter residences.