The Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, M.P.

In a presentation to the Grand Bahama edition of the annual Bahamas Business Outlook this past week, the Minister of Financial Services and Investments, emphasised key short-term mandates of her Ministry:

– restoration of The Bahamas to its position of preeminence as a financial services centre;

– aggressive pursuit of Bahamian and foreign direct investment in such a manner that red tape is replaced by red carpet and that decisions are made in a timely fashion.

Minister Maynard-Gibson pointed out that these two mandates are enshrined in the Government’s Strategic Plan for the development of the financial services industry and for national investments. She also took the opportunity to affirm the Government’s commitment to working with the private sector:

*”Very early in our term, I indicated that a hallmark of this administration would be unprecedented public/private sector cooperation. Both sectors must regard themselves as partners in national development. I am pleased by the overwhelming response of the private sector to our overtures,”* she said.

**Investment Opportunities**

The National Strategy on Investments seeks to expand the investment opportunities available, as well as to proactively develop and sustain Bahamian entrepreneurship.

According to the Minister, the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) is the investor’s “One-Stop Shop”. The Authority *”cuts the red tape and rolls out the red carpet”* for investors, with service that continues from the preliminary inquiry through to the final implementation of the investment project.

*”I am pleased to say that in the Investments Board, we have accomplished our stated goal of processing completed applications within 30 days,”* said Minister Maynard-Gibson. The Investment Board’s application form has been redesigned and circulated to relevant professional industry associations for comment. In the meantime, the Ministry’s IT consultants are working to facilitate online communication on IB applications.

The National Economic Council reportedly has before it more than $1billion worth of investment proposals. Prime Minister the Hon. Perry Christie has revealed plans for the “millions of dollars” of investment and thousands of new jobs created for Bahamians. He said the economic prospects for The Bahamas are encouraging when measured in the context of the numerous and impressive range of investments and development projects. Included in the estimated $1.5 billion of investments are major tourism projects on several Family Islands, Grand Bahama and Paradise Island.

**Cutting Edge, Blue Chip Financial Centre**

The Government last year appointed a 33-member “Think Tank” of experts, stating that the Financial Services Consultative Forum’s input to the development of the financial services industry will ensure that the financial services industry is repositioned to better meet the needs of the international financial markets. This broad based group of industry experts works closely with the Ministry of Financial Services and Investments, which provides administrative support, the Bahamas Financial Services Board, industry regulators, and others in the domestic private sector, and also with regional and global associations.

The Ministry of Financial Services and Investments was appointed in 2002 in the line with Government’s policy decision to play a proactive role in promoting the jurisdiction and its commitment to strengthening the nation’s economy by maintaining the global competitiveness of its financial services sector.

Minister Maynard-Gibson has said her Ministry will work with the Consultative Forum on the implementation of the National Strategy for Financial Services, and will continue its close collaboration with the Bahamas Financial Services Board – a joint effort, she said, that should ensure continued success of the sector.