**Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson
Minister of Financial Services and Investments**
Minister Maynard-Gibson presented remarks to the 7th Annual Georgia Minority Business Leaders Awards Luncheon today in Atlanta, taking the opportunity to *”talk about opportunities in my country.”*
Referencing the nation’s success in the tourism industry, she pointed out that the Bahamian economy is not based solely on tourism, however. *”You will be aware, I am sure, of our status as a leading banking and financial centre.”* said the Minister. *”Indeed, the financial services sector serves as a stable second leg for our economy.”*
The Bahamas, she said, is committed to adhering to international standards to prevent the use of the financial services industry for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing. Importantly, it has agreed to subject itself to periodic review by international agencies in the assessment of its anti-money laundering regime.
*”The financial services sector competes effectively with the world’s leading jurisdictions and stands up to the closest scrutiny in the new environment of expanded regulatory and supervisory standards.”*
A new series of products and services will be offered by the financial services sector. For example, new legislation for the establishment of foundations, special purposes trusts, and protected cell companies should be introduced into Parliament over the next few months.
According to Minister Maynard-Gibson, the Bahamian economic engine has been performing well, demonstrating a reassuring resilience and dynamism. She pointed to positive indicators such as:
· parity of the Bahamian dollar with the U.S. dollar
· the nation’s ability to sustain this balance through the foreign exchange earning capacity of its thriving tourism sector.
· significant improvement in the foreign exchange reserves (stood at $506.9 million at the end of 2003)
In addition to the major construction projects announced recently, including the $600 Million construction of Phase Three of the Atlantis resort development by Kerzner International, the Minister also pointed to the time share industry, targeted for significant growth. The Government anticipates tabling legislation to enable the largest Time Share operators in the world, including Starwood, Fairfield and others to expand their business in The Bahamas. *”The Bahamas used to be the number one Time Share destination in the world and we aim to reclaim that position,”*said Minister Maynard-Gibson – who also spoke to moves by the Ministry of Tourism to pursue heritage and religious tourism “in a big way”. She reported that the opportunity for Conventions to come to The Bahamas and to obtain tax concessions is being negotiated with the US Government – with at least one Convention Centre to be constructed in New Providence.
*”In summary, I assert that the stability of the economy of The Bahamas, the location of our country within a relatively tight radius of most business centres in the south-eastern United States, a long tradition of democratic government and a perfect record of social stability should make our country almost irresistible to any serious business person or investor.”*