Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson
Minister of Financial Services and Investments

Before the end of the month, the Government will unveil its Financial Services Consultative Forum, described as being at the heart of the consultative effort to involve industry as partners. It is anticipated that through a Board and a network of sub-committees, the Forum will thoroughly examine financial sector issues that relate to the international obligations of The Bahamas, its national interests, market needs and changing market trends. As envisaged, the consultative body will ensure that the views of the private and public sectors, regulators and other parties are fully considered.

In the Speech From The Throne on the Opening of Parliament after the 2002 National Elections mid year, Governor-General Dame Ivy Dumont forecast the appointment of the Financial Services Consultative Forum. At that time, she said its purpose would be *”to facilitate structured and continuous dialogue between the government and the private sector so that legislative and promotional strategies aimed at repositioning the financial services industry to better meet the needs of international financial markets can be conceived and implemented within a framework of collaborative effort.”*

Recently, the Ministry of Financial Services and Investments has released its Strategic Plan for the industry, after extensive consultations with industry practitioners. The Plan has as its two primary goals the maintenance of The Bahamas’ premier positioning as a financial services center, and the expansion and diversification of the Bahamian economy.

The Government has said it wants to send a very clear message that it is pro-business. The Minister in the past has identified *“the extent to which a jurisdiction involves the private sector in policy formulation”* as a key factor when financial centers are scrutinised and selected as an investment domicile. This consultative approach ranks high among considerations such as the quality and productivity of service providers and the standards and regulation applied in a jurisdiction.

Minister Maynard-Gibson says the Strategic Plan, a final draft of which has been circulated and is awaiting further feedback, envisages The Bahamas as a blue chip, first class, well regulated and cooperative financial centre, playing on the same level playing field as London, New York, Switzerland and Singapore. *”To do this, we must provide the same or similar financial services, and at the same level of service and productivity.”*

A goal of the Financial Services and Investments Ministry is to seek investment that will positively impact the lives and businesses of Bahamians. *”We especially want to ensure linkages in other areas of the economy and entrepreneurial opportunities for young Bahamians,”* said Minister Maynard-Gibson. This will secure the future of The Bahamas, the future of Bahamians, and the future of investments.

It was announced at the PLP’s Convention currently underway in Nassau that another initiative about to be unveiled by the Ministry is the means by which the true contribution of financial services to the economy can be measured. This will facilitate strategic national planning as well as planned involvement in the sector.

According to the Minister, the jurisdiction must maintain the right mindset and performance mode to compete with major onshore and international centres. The Government has pledged to work hand in hand with the private sector to ensure an enhanced position for The Bahamas in the global financial services market.