We asked a cross section of representatives of the industry to comment on the appointment of James Smith as Minister of State within the Ministry of Finance.
Here’s what a number of them had to say:
*”The new Government was very pro-active in appointing James Smith as Minister of State for Finance. To me, this was a clear indication to the financial community that the Government not only recognised the importance of the sector, but also found an extremely well qualified candidate for the position. Mr. Smith is well known and respected within both the local and international financial communities and his years of service as Governor of the Central Bank provide him with the experience needed for this top Cabinet position.”* **Bruce Bell, Managing Director, Oceanic Bank & Trust**
*”It is evident that the Prime Minister recognises the importance of the Financial Services industry to The Bahamas and it shows his commitment to move quickly to calm any concerns the industry may have as a result of the change of government. It is a significant and very welcomed development to have the industry represented at Cabinet level.
“We are very pleased with the appointment of James Smith as he is highly respected and very experienced. We are confident that he will consult with members of the industry on all matters of importance and we look forward to a productive private sector-public sector partnership addressing the issues that matter to the industry.”* **Michael Paton, Partner, Lennox Paton**
*”The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), of which I am President, has expressed the view in the past that predictability and credibility are two of the cornerstones of a stable economic environment. I do not believe that anything has changed that should cause this view to be altered.
“Prime Minister Christie’s early announcement of his decision to appoint, and the subsequent appointment on day one of, Ambassador James Smith a minister in his cabinet, with responsibility for financial services, sent a strong message that the sector is considered important to the welfare of our country. Minister Smith – a former Governor of the Central Bank and a seasoned and mature advisor to Government – has signalled that he will be deliberate in his approach to the tasks at hand, not seeking to make changes merely for the sake of change. I congratulate Minister Smith and undertake that BICA, in concert with other sector participants, will do its part in working with him as he spearheads Government’s contribution to the maintenance of those characteristics that are essential to the preservation of a stable economic environment.”* **Wayne J. Aranha, President, BICA**
*”It is clear that in the international forum the new Government wants to show the priority it places on the financial services industry. This priority is also shown in the appointment of the Ambassador of Trade and former Central Bank Governor – an individual of sound reputation. Importantly, the new Government has made it equally clear that it intends to further encourage foreign investment. Provisions in its Covenant (political platform) likewise promise the creation of better opportunities for Bahamian investors.”* ** David Morley, President, Bahamas Real Estate Association**
*”We are pleased that the Government’s first appointment relates to financial services. It demonstrates clearly that the government recognises the importance of our industry and the significant contribution being made by the financial services industry to the Bahamian economy. There are also, of course, a number of very important initiatives and challenges facing our industry which will require the Government’s immediate and considered attention.
“We are also happy with Hon. James Smith’s appointment as he brings vast experience developed over the years in the Ministry of Finance, The Central Bank of The Bahamas and as Ambassador for Trade. He is well-known to the industry and brings the type of temperament and willingness to consult industry professionals that will undoubtedly be very important to the continued success and development of the Bahamas’ financial services industry.”* **Bruno Roberts, Director, The Private Trust Corporation Limited**
*”I am delighted and encouraged by the appointment of former Ambassador and Central Bank Governor James Smith as Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance. Minister Smith was a director of BISX, BFSB and several financial institutions prior to his appointment. This gives him a unique private sector perspective to further enhance his reputation as an outstanding senior public official.
“In The Bahamas, we are presently at the crossroads in the financial services industry. Mr. Smith’s cabinet appointment, the first to be announced, is an indication of the new government’s recognition of the importance of moving forward with new initiatives and reform whilst ensuring stability and continuity. It is hoped that this sensitivity to our present vulnerability will be followed by swift action and meaningful support of the industry, especially with regards to the capital markets, pension legislation, insurance legislation and regulations which support business development.”* **Gregory Bethel, President, Fidelity Merchant Bank and Trust Limited**
*”It was a very important signal to send, and the right thing to do. I would hope that it also is a signal for continuing right action by the government going forward. Minister Smith is a known entity to the market, both domestically and internationally. His credentials are known and tested.”* **Patrick Ward, Managing Director, Bahamas First Holdings Ltd.**
*”I am impressed with the first posting and more impressed with the individual, who is well respected and has a wealth of experience in financial services. The appointment has been well received internationally.”* **William Jennings, Managing Director, Leadenhall Bank & Trust Company Ltd.**