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

The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants today launched a programme of seminars as part of the annual BICA Week in The Bahamas, under the theme *”Accounting with Excellence, Credibility and Authority”*.

Minister Maynard-Gibson addressed seminar participants this morning, and publicly acknowledged BICA’s significant contribution to the financial growth and development of the nation. *”Your efforts to provide this country with professional leadership, international representation, shaping the legislative framework for our financial sector, and ensuring that members consistently give valuable services in the highest professional manner, are indeed noteworthy,”* said Minister Maynard-Gibson.

BICA members were encouraged to contribute to an environment that keeps 21st century realities at the forefront of decision making processes. Specifically, the Minister pointed out that this can be done as the Institute continues to contribute to discussions on FTAA, WTO, and the future of the Bahamas’ financial services sector, including legislative developments.

**People Power**

*”Whether we are Accounting Professionals, Government Ministers, University Leaders, Academics, Regulators or Standard setters – we all are fundamentally engaged in the business of “people”. I emphasise this, because as you discuss policies, and standards, approaches and infrastructures and goals and ideals during this seminar, we cannot and should not forget that our ultimate objective is to assist our nation in improving the standards of living and creating better work environments for all Bahamians.”*

The Minister applauded the accounting profession as leaders in providing valuable international work experience to Bahamians, while expressing the hope that other financial institutions would follow this lead in providing talented and skilled Bahamians the opportunity to further enhance and contribute to the overall economic development of the financial services industry.

**Financial System**

Pointing out that in order to achieve sustainable economic growth in any economy, there must be a sound and reliable financial system, the Minister further said that in order to achieve market confidence, these systems should be characterised by the following:

• high quality, transparent financial reporting based on a robust set of internationally accepted standards;

• codes of conduct for all participants in the financial reporting process with ongoing monitoring of compliance;

• good governance policies;

• regulating structures that result in high quality performance for all those involved in financial reporting.

Embracing these characteristics, BICA was described as the “custodians” of the financial services industry, with responsibility to ensure that financial information is reliable, accurate and, most importantly, that the public is confident in the financial information released. *”The credibility of financial information is directly linked to economic development,”* maintained the Minister.

**Credibility, Accountability, Authority**

There has to be constant evaluation of the way that all organisations, including government, do business. Collection of revenues, the design and integration of systems to increase efficiency, and assisting entrepreneurs with presentation of business plans all were cited as issues that should be constantly in the forefront of the minds of accountants. The Minister invited BICA input and involvement in the critical areas of nation building. *”This nation is at a threshold; the potential for growth is enormous. But we must approach this growth with plans in mind for economic empowerment now and for future generations. We need you at the table participating in the decision making process.”*

BICA Seminars throughout the week will cover topics such as Fraud Detection, Prevention and Litigation; International Financial Reporting Standards; the Challenges of Trust Accounting under the Trustee Act; Public Expenditure Management; Sarbanes-Oxley Act; the Role of the Auditor General; Managing People & Conflicts; the Challenges of HR Management; and Disaster Recovery Planning for Information Systems.