**Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson
Minister of Financial Services and Investments**
Minister Maynard-Gibson addressed a “Special Programme for Intermediaries in Nassau” (SPIN) earlier this week. This first SPIN for the year 2005, targeting the private wealth management sector, was hosted by the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) in collaboration with the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies in the Bahamas (AIBT).
The Minister pointed out the value of the SPIN initiatives as a means of directly touching intermediaries and acknowledged their key role in attracting business to The Bahamas. *”SPINs”*, she said, *”also enable us to interact in this type of environment with experts who influence policy in international agencies and jurisdictions around the world.”*
Other Government Officials participating in the programme were the Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Hon. Alfred Sears, Attorney General and Minister of Education; and Sen. the Hon. James Smith, Minister of State for Finance. Governor Julian Francis of the Central Bank of The Bahamas and Hillary Deveaux, Acting Executive Director of the Securities Commission of the Bahamas also were in attendance for discussions on regulatory issues relevant to private wealth management.
The common message communicated to the international intermediaries was that The Bahamas Government is determined to enhance the competitiveness of the financial services sector, and its attractiveness to domestic and international investors.
Minister Maynard-Gibson pointed out that the government remains deeply committed to the consultative approach to the development of financial sector. *”We believe that constant and extensive liaison with the private sector and other stakeholders is a crucial component in meeting the National Strategy for Financial Services.”* This strategy, she said, included:
• Replacing red tape with red carpet
• Creating a productive public and private sector partnership
• Identifying and creating opportunities for growth
• Safeguarding the internal environment and expanding/upgrading infrastructure
• Developing expertise
• Promoting the jurisdiction
*”I am pleased to report to you that we listened carefully to what intermediaries have said in 2004 SPIN meetings, what we heard on promotion tours, and to the voice of those in the sector in The Bahamas.”*. This consultative approach, she said, resulted in the legislative amendments to the Trustees Act, the Perpetuities Act and the International Business Companies Act; and new product legislation relating to Segregated Accounts Companies, Foundations and Purpose Trusts. *”These new Acts together with the existing legislative framework for the financial services industry are helping to place The Bahamas at the forefront of the financial services sector.”*
**Legislative & Product Developments**
In addition to the current Parliamentary Debate on a new Domestic Insurance Act, the Minister reported that the 2005 Legislative agenda includes:
• Regulations to support the Domestic Insurance Act
• Completion of the review of the External Insurance Act
• Completion of the review of the Financial and Corporate Service Providers Act
• Finalization of the regime for operation of an International Arbitration Centre
• A Private Trust Companies Act
• Securitizations legislation
Recognising the need to deliver services in an affordable, convenient and efficient manner, the government is placing special emphasis on the following areas:
• streamlining of the regulatory regime
• wide consultation on training and career development together with availability and development of expertise to develop and service clients wanting to use the new product lines
• effective and efficient delivery of services from the Registrar General’s Department
According to Minister Maynard-Gibson, studies show the need to clearly define and differentiate The Bahamas as well as the direct and indirect importance of intermediaries. *”This is why we continue to enable the private sector to have access to decision makers and to participation in the decision making process; we have institutionalized consultation with the private sector through the establishment of the Financial Services Consultative Forum; and we continue to participate with BFSB in development and promotion of The Bahamas Brand”.*
Referencing the country’s e-commerce regime, the Minister said the Electronic Communications Act, Data Protection Act, and Computer Misuse Act are all a part of a legislative framework aimed at making The Bahamas a centre for excellence in e-commerce. Reportedly, as a result of the Prime Minister’s successful State Visit to China in 2004, there is the likelihood of a Logistic Center and Call Centers being established in the International Business Centre area in Freeport.
*”We are committed to being a premier international financial centre,”* the Minister concluded, *”…to being blue chip, well regulated and cooperative. I thank you for being here and for helping us to promote that doing business is indeed Better in The Bahamas.”*