Product and professional development are key for The Bahamas to remain an attractive centre for financial services according to the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Minister of Financial Services & Investments (MFSI).

In her contribution to the 2005/2006 Budget, the Minister said while The Bahamas enjoys a comparative advantage in private wealth management, the government and the private sector have taken steps to ensure a wide range of products and services, thus ensuring that financial services in The Bahamas remains at the cutting edge of the industry.

In the past year foundations, purpose trust and segregated accounts companies legislation have been enacted to expand the jurisdiction’s product portfolio, and a private trust company policy document is now in an advanced state of development.

She said that with Bahamians forming the vast majority of 6000 persons employed in the country’s financial services sector, the jurisdiction provides a level of stability not found elsewhere in the region. She said the government will continue to work with and encourage education and professional development initiatives by the industry to ensure The Bahamas’ competitive position.

The Minister also noted the MFSI’s five year strategic plan for financial services is being updated to (i) assist in understanding the directional changes of the marketplace and, (ii) define The Bahamas’ position within the marketplace and, as a result, how the jurisdiction should position itself over the next 5 years.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers UK report that was commissioned by MFSI, the Bahamas Financial Services Board and the Association of International Banks and Trust Companies in The Bahamas is being used to help update the plan.

The jointly commissioned report identified a wish list for the ideal international centre:

* Good legal and regulatory systems
* Double tax agreements, minimal tax
* Specialist products and asset class coverage and structures
* Good reputation/brand/infrastructure
* Adherence to international benchmarked standards – regulation without bureaucracy
* Functional and relevant investment and tax reporting
* Ease of access to businesses and for skilled employees

*”Even though there is room for improvement, The Bahamas is well on its way to achieving all of these “wishes”*, said Minister Maynard-Gibson, noting further that *”Our private sector collaboration shall be continued and enhanced.”*