**Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, M.P.**

Minister of Financial Services and Investments, the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson maintains that globalisation is a process in which Bahamians have participated successfully for at least four decades.

*”The opportunities for Bahamians to participate, compete and succeed in a globalised environment are infinite, boundless and wide open,”* she says. The Minister was presenting remarks at the recent 9th Annual CEO Network Conference, held this year under the theme *Global Networking Strategies.*

In particular, she says, the success of the Tourism and Financial Services sectors demonstrates that the jurisdiction continues to creatively seize the available opportunities — for decades now providing services to the world.

*”There are some aspects of our global appeal that have been in place for years: 275 years of uninterrupted stable political democracy; a legal system that is well understood, being common law based; a strong relationship with our neighbours, especially our nearest neighbour, America; freedom from most forms of taxation; easy repatriation of investment capital; and availability of essential public services and utilities,”*says Minister Maynard-Gibson. These are the attributes that continue to make The Bahamas a strong destination for tourism, investment and financial services.

Conference participants were provided with concrete examples of ways in which the Bahamas government helps Bahamians in the pursuit of *Global Networking Strategies*:

1. It is the policy of The Bahamas government to bring about transformation of the country by promoting the establishment of an anchor investment on each inhabited Island. Employment and entrepreneurship flow from that anchor investment. At the moment investments valued at over $4 Billion dollars are being processed by the MFSI. (Note: This sum does not include the $1 Billion Cable Beach project for which a Heads of Agreement was recently signed by the government)

2. The government is committed to taking global networking strategies to a different level in the investment sector by ensuring that Bahamian entrepreneurs are given as many opportunities as possible to participate in this explosion of investment.

3. One of the greatest advantages of the financial services industry is that there is an experienced combination of both local and international human capital. There is no other financial services centre in this part of the world where the local population is as involved or as accomplished. Nevertheless, the government is working actively to encourage a greater degree of skills transfer – to ensure that Bahamians have the same opportunities to live and work abroad, on the same terms and conditions, as non Bahamians have when they live and work in The Bahamas. We believe that this will effect a “win” for everyone. It will enable financial institutions to seamlessly transfer Bahamian employees to any branch around the world; it will strengthen our financial services sector and it will enhance the productivity of the relevant employee.

Policies like this make for a stronger core of Bahamian professionals with global levels of experience, create a stronger economy, foster a seamless transition of resources among between premier institutions and their Bahamian representative agencies, enhancing global competitiveness.

4. Banks and trust companies in The Bahamas – institutions with a physical presence – contribute almost $400 Million in expenditure to the economy. Participants in the offshore sector earn an average salary of $63,000 and an average salary of $40,000 in the domestic sector. There are over $1 Billion dollars worth of assets under management in The Bahamas. Indeed, international institutions routinely point out that The Bahamas is their leading international centre for private banking.

In conclusion, the Minister affirmed the government’s commitment to creating and strengthening an environment where investments can thrive and opportunities abound. *”We have no doubt that Bahamian entrepreneurs and professionals will respond in dramatic and creative ways to the challenges of conducting business in The Bahamas in this new millennium.”*