***Canadian Banking and Financial Services – Important factors in the development of The Bahamas…***

The Prime Minister addressed delegates at a recent two-day conference for Group Managers, hosted on Paradise Island by Imperial Life Financial.

The Prime Minister said that the relationship between The Bahamas and Canada goes back to when both countries were British colonies. *”Today, we pride ourselves on being a sophisticated, well-regulated financial centre that is comfortable and competent in dealing with multi-national and cosmopolitan business requirements and that is also experienced in providing necessary support and ancillary services.”* Imperial Life started operations in The Bahamas some 104 years ago and, according to Mr. Christie, the government is confident that this long relationship will continue into the foreseeable future.

Noting that Canadian banking and financial services – important factors in the development of the nation – first came to The Bahamas in the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Prime Minister said Canadian banks in fact were preceded by Canadian insurance companies, which have dominated the Bahamian insurance market.

Prime Minister Christie took the opportunity to report that Government is “fine tuning” its draft Domestic Insurance Bill, which is expected to be presented in Parliament this fiscal period. *”We were pleased with the participation of stakeholders (including Imperial Life) in this process — in reacting to the bill and providing constructive comments. It is envisaged that the new legislation will support the government’s declared thrust towards e-commerce, which will play an ever-increasing role in competition in the financial services industry,”* he said.

The Bahamas is seeking to expand its economic relationship with Canada, and as such the Prime Minister encouraged Canadians to visit, maintain second homes and consider expanding investments in tourism, resort development, financial services and light manufacturing.

Imperial Life Financial is a division of Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company, which has 13.4 billion in assets under management, an annual premium volume of $1.5 billion and serves close to 5 million policyholders. The Bahamas operation has $268 million in assets under management.

Desjardins Financial Security is an equity capital corporation and subsidiary of Desjardins-Laurentian Financial Corporation, a Mouvement des caisses Desjardins holding company. The Mouvement des caisses Desjardins is a financial cooperative that ranks sixth among Canada’s financial institutions, with $76 billion in assets and over 30,000 employees.