**H.E. The Hon. Arthur D. Hanna

The Governor-General presented the Speech from The Throne at the opening of a new session of Parliament in downtown Rawson Square yesterday.

He indicated that the upcoming parliamentary session will continue the Government’s ongoing programme to *”provide safe and secure communities, alleviate poverty, and to provide growth and prosperity for the Bahamian people.”* In this connection, priority will be given to a number of challenges:

• To grow the economy so as to provide ever increasing benefits and prosperity for all people throughout our archipelago;

• To protect and secure the borders of The Bahamas against illegal immigration;

• To provide the laws, policies, resources and tools necessary for the successful campaign against crime and lawlessness and for the more efficient delivery of judicial services;

• To create the necessary policies and legislation to modernize, advance and meet the needs of essential public service delivery in the areas of poverty alleviation, health, education and housing;

• To support and protect the most vulnerable in the society, particularly the poor, the elderly, the disabled and those in special needs;

• To protect and preserve the environment;

• To create a comprehensive system of land use planning; and

• To provide training programmes relevant to developmental needs.

With particular regard to the financial services, the Governor-General said this industry continues to hold vast, untapped potential for the Bahamian economy and the Bahamian people. The Government therefore is committed to:

• Continue the focus on the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Investment and the Strategic Plan for Financial Services; and

• Continue to partner with the private sector to bring to market a new array of financial products and services that will maintain the competitive advantage of The Bahamas in international private banking, estate-planning and private wealth management.

Also announced was the Government’s intention to give further support to the industry, through the introduction of a Bill for an Act to Regulate Private Trust Companies, and a Bill for a new External Insurance Act.

The Governor-General also spoke to the strength of the economy, described as remarkably robust, due to a variety of factors including the disciplined and prudent management of public finances to which the Government has studiously adhered since May of 2002. *”Equally noteworthy is my Government’s promotion of economic expansion through sound and sensible policies that have had wide appeal to investors both foreign and domestic over the past 3  years.”* These policies, he said, in addition to the Government’s guidance and management of the economy has been instrumental in making The Bahamas one of the most buoyant and competitive economies in the region.

The Speech from the Throne outlined specific plans in a number of areas, including tourism development, entrepreneurial development, education, health, e-government, the environment, national security, and social development.

H.E. Governor A.D. Hanna concluded that the measures outlined will in their totality move the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and its people to unprecedented heights.