**Sen. the Hon. James Smith
Minister of State
Ministry of Finance**
Last week Sen. the Hon. James Smith led a Bahamian delegation to the UN General Assembly’s *”High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development”* – an inter governmental follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development (ICFFD) held three years ago in Monterrey, Mexico and from which emerged the “Monterrey Consensus”, the broad-based partnership for development.
Minister Smith addressed the meeting on the need for further consideration of global systemic issues – specifically, the need to broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in international economic decision making and norm setting processes. He told Dialogue delegates that The Bahamas has continually shown its commitment to meeting the challenges of financing for development. *”Over the past few years we have made a concerted effort to enhance our economic and social infrastructure, improving our strategic policy frameworks and national accounting systems.”* This, he said, has enabled the creation of innovative structures in support of entrepreneurship and private sector development, as well as **bolstering the nation’s legislative frameworks in the fight against corruption and money laundering**.
**Global Governance & Systemic Imbalances**
Additionally, the Minister said The Bahamas has embraced the opportunities presented by globalisation, making the necessary investments in human and physical capital to enable an innovative and productive economy. This notwithstanding, there are constraints brought about by global governance and systemic imbalances which can frustrate meaningful integration into the global economy. *”The issue of reform of global economic governance to strengthen the voice and participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making and norm setting is of critical importance to The Bahamas,”* he said. *”There is a definite need for concrete, realistic proposals to ensure the effective, permanent representation of developing countries – particularly small developing countries – in international economic, trade and financial institutions.”* Included in those so cited were: the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Financial Stability Forum (FSF), Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Basle Committee.
Referencing some positive developments in the area of international cooperation in tax matters, Minister Smith pointed to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) proposal to expand its Global Forum to involve all significant financial centres. Too, that Forum is engaged in a broad exercise to assess information sharing and transparency practices to determine how level the playing field is.
Considered most important, though, is the establishment of the UN’s **Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters**. This will ensure that the interests of all member states will be factored into discussions and recommendations aimed at adopting mutually agreed standards that do not unduly favour the wealthy nations. The Committee will promote a more inclusive approach that examines all forms of tax regimes within the UN’s membership.
The Minister queried the fairness and transparency of initiatives where standard setters engage in unilateral action without providing the opportunity for jurisdictions to face their accusers and defend their activities. As such, The Bahamas places great value on the Monterrey process and the mandate to address such systemic issues, and in this context it has urged a greater role for the UN in all aspects of global standard setting and assessment. *”The case of the small developing country must be heard in an objective and open forum,”* he concluded.