**Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, M.P.
Minister of Financial Services and Investments**

Minister Allyson Maynard-Gibson was one of the keynote presenters at the recent CEO Network Conference, hosted in The Bahamas. The focus of her outreach to conference participants: “The repositioning of the financial services, and the attraction of quality business.”

She told delegates, *”The once quiet, unnoticed world of financial services has become the focal point for international attention and increased global competition. The end result is that people and capital can move freely and instantaneously in an environment of unprecedented choice when it comes to where they want to vacation – or to do business. My government is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that The Bahamas is seen as a viable choice for financial institutions and their clients.”*

The creation of the Ministry of Financial Services & Investment reflects the government’s policy commitment to promoting Financial Services as a key driver and enabler of The Bahamas’ economic prowess, said Minister Maynard-Gibson. The Ministry has been given full license to take all necessary measures to build awareness and to heighten the appeal and reputation of the Financial Services sector.

Specific advantages of The Bahamas were cited as follows:-

· no income, capital gains, inheritance, payroll taxes

*(international persons who chose to do business or to live in The Bahamas receive the same benefit that Bahamians do. There is no ringing fencing of the taxation regime)*

· a strong Democratic history – more than 270 years of uninterrupted democracy

*(The Bahamas has been identified as a model of transition to independence)*

· Government facilitates business

*(red carpet, not red tape)*

· excellence in education and professional development, the existence of an independent judiciary, a sound fiscal environment and strong public – private sector relations

*(Combine to build a compelling story of why The Bahamas is a sound investment)*

With regard to ongoing international efforts to combat **money laundering**, Minister Maynard-Gibson reported that in 1996 The Bahamas criminalised money laundering – and was one of the first international financial centers to do so. Legislation at that time was firmly supported by the international banks who formerly introduced into their codes of conduct in the 1980s adherence to international KYC best practices. Legislative adjustments of 2000 served to place The Bahamas comfortably among the pace setters in ensuring transparency through comprehensive KYC systems and respect of the **privacy of clients** as supported by the UN principles.


*”Last year my Ministry worked together with the private sector on a Strategic Plan for the Financial Services sector, because we all recognised the need to enhance the economy by repositioning and expanding financial services and to re-claim competitive advantage without compromising the integrity of the sector,”* said the Minister.

Some of the overriding premises of the 5-Year Plan are (a) to promote The Bahamas as a “Blue Chip, Well Regulated and Cooperative” Financial Centre; (b) to not accept being second best; and (c) to sit at the table as a responsible participant in the financial services industry, recognising that The Bahamas has a place alongside London, New York, Switzerland, and Singapore, among others.

In this connection the Ministry has concentrated over the past year in “shoring up” the regulatory foundations of the Financial Services sector to protect and enhance the attractiveness of the jurisdiction. To facilitate this goal and in keeping with its policy to involve the private sector in making the decisions which affect their industry, the Financial Services Consultative Forum (FSCF)was established.

The FSCF is a “Think Tank” of experts from the private sector and its primary role is to advise the Government and the Ministry of Financial Services and Investments generally on policy matters pertaining to or affecting the economy and – specifically – the financial services sector.

**Product Development**

The Minister noted that with the assistance of the FSCF, the government has successfully introduced and passed the e-commerce legislation and the Investment Funds Act. With the FSCF’s continued assistance the government intends to introduce in the short term:

· amendments to the IBC Act;

· the Financial Transactions Reporting (Amendment) Act;

· the Financial and Corporate Service Providers (Amendment) Act;

· amendments to the Securities Industry Act;

· Financial and Corporate Service Providers (General) Regulations;

· the review of the Domestic and External Insurance Acts;

· the adoption of the Protective Cell Statute;

· the drafting and adoption of the Perpetuities Bill;

· the Foundations Bill.

In closing Minister Maynard-Gibson reaffirmed that the Government is committed to providing a well-regulated financial centre and that The Bahamas “remains open for business.”