**Implementing the Government’s *”Plan for a Stronger Bahamas and a Brighter Future”***

Opening Debate on the 2002/03 Budget in the House of Assembly yesterday, the Hon. Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister & Minister of Finance, said proposals tabled aimed at regenerating the economy by improving the macroeconomic environment and creating the conditions conducive to investment. The country’s social agenda will be moved forward within the context of a growing economy.

Despite resource constraints, the Government is committed to putting in place the right preconditions to build investor and entrepreneurial confidence, to advance social inclusion and to create the right environment in the Bahamas were all Bahamians could feel confident about their future.

The Prime Minister said Government must ensure from a real perspective *”that there is a consistent and sustained effort to expand our economy and to identify and have developed additional sources of revenue for our economy.”* Similarly, it is recognised that Government must exercise prudence in expenditure, ensuring that *”when we spend there is a purpose connected to an overall plan for expenditure”.*

The new Ministry of Financial Services and Investments will work to encourage the expansion of investments, and the well-being and health of the financial services sector. The Prime Minister referenced the upcoming visit by Minister Allyson Maynard Gibson to the headquarters of leading banks in Europe, and further indicated that it is anticipated the Government’s legislative agenda in September will include legislation to impact positively on the financial services sector. This will ensure that The Bahamas maintains a competitive position vis-à-vis other financial centres.

Specifically referenced was the current review of the insurance sector, aimed at ensuring that it is modernised. Speaking at a BFSB-hosted Insurance Seminar last month, Minister Maynard Gibson stated that practitioners have labeled the existing External Insurance Act as user friendly and progressive. Nevertheless, she continued, *”To stay on the cutting edge, plans are underway for review of the External Insurance Act to ensure ongoing relevance to the needs of a rapidly developing market.”* A new Domestic Insurance Act (draft) currently is in circulation, seeking further industry feedback.