**Michael Halkitis, M.P.
Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Finance**

Presenting Opening Remarks at BFSB’s recent **Business Continuity Planning (BCP)** forum, Mr. Michael Halkitis pointed to The Bahamas’ reputation as a top notch financial services jurisdiction.

This reputation, he said, has been built on a foundation that combines the expertise resident in the jurisdiction’s financial service professionals and the stability of its legal and political systems. Clients have come to rely on these qualities.

The Parliamentary Secretary said, however, that in today’s environment, it is not only important to have skilled professionals and a legislative environment conducive to doing business and that meets international standards. It is equally important to have clients assured of the ability of the jurisdiction to withstand disaster whether natural or otherwise.

The forum was hosted as part of BFSB’s ongoing Business Seminar series and provided the opportunity for providers of key business services to report on infrastructure readiness, and for input from industry regulators — in addition to a practical session on the BCP process. *(See Link below for a report on the sessions)*

The Bahamas Government has put in place mechanisms for planned coordination during major emergencies or disasters. Its vision is that through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), The Bahamas *”will be recognised as a leader in comprehensive, integrated and effective management, with aware and prepared communities able to cope with disasters.”*

Gayle D. Outten-Moncur, Disaster / Training Manager for NEMA was lead speaker at the recent Forum, and spoke to the Agency’s mission to promote and support comprehensive, integrated and effective emergency management in The Bahamas – with a commitment to taking proactive and timely measures to prevent or reduce the impact of hazards on the Bahamian people, its natural resources and the economy. Its mandate is to achieve this through collaborative efforts with national, regional and international agencies.

Representatives from the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation, Cable Bahamas, and the Water and Sewerage Corporation all presented on infrastructure readiness, emphasizing that the right – fully protected and diverse – systems are in place to ensure business continuity.

CEO & Executive Wendy Warren presented closing remarks at the Forum and spoke to the work of BFSB’s BCP Working Group, whose primary focus is securing the long term sustainability of the Bahamas financial services industry. *”Ensuring business recovery and continuity in times of disruption is an essential component in the delivery of high quality financial services. In this regard, The Bahamas has an excellent record over the 60 years of delivering international services.”*

Ms. Warren indicates that through the process of an industry wide review and documentation of BCP capabilities, the Working Group is actively promoting the preparedness in place for meeting the needs of the client – not only at the individual institutional level, but at a jurisdiction level.