Despite the recent global economic slowdown, the just-released IMF Staff Report for 2003 on The Bahamas recognizes the country’s long track record of prudent macroeconomic management and financial stability. This recognition by the IMF Staff Report is one of the many reasons why The Bahamas is the leading independent international financial centre in the Caribbean Region.

The Report also notes that financial regulations have continued to improve, including efforts to strengthen anti–money laundering legislation. BFSB supports the need for The Bahamas to remain compliant with international standards although these standards must be implemented equally in all financial markets to be effective.

In this vein, BFSB will build on the extensive work completed in 2001 where a comprehensive proposal was submitted to government and regulators based on the active participation of many professional industry associations with regard to the new FATF 40 recommendations. The anti-terrorism bill, which was broadly disseminated among industry participants, has been tabled in the parliament.

The IMF Report also cited the strengthening supervisory environment in The Bahamas, noting:

· New Central Bank licensing guidelines;

· The transformation of prudential norms into transparent regulations;

· Intensified cooperation with foreign regulators;

· And, the harmonization of activities of regulatory agencies.

BFSB strongly supports and encourages transparent application and supervisory processes. This is essential as The Bahamas continues to attract international business. International advisors will not risk their reputations by introducing business to a center where the policy objectives are not clear, rules are not defined and timelines for response are uncertain.

Meetings with professional industry associations and regulators such as the Securities Commission, the Central Bank and the Registrar have been held to further this objective. We are hopeful that with the introduction of the new Investment Funds Act, Regulations and SMART Funds templates, policy directives on matters such as corporate directors and private trust companies, the implementation of new electronic platform for the formation and management of IBCs, to name a few projects, significant progress will be made in this regard.

We are pleased that regulators continue to consult with industry representatives on all matters relating to regulation and supervision. Industry and the professions must continue to reciprocate by marshalling resources in order for the consultation process to be effective. A fully functioning partnership amongst all the industry stakeholders will greatly enhance our ability to take advantage of the opportunities for growth.