**The Hon. Zhivargo Laing
Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance**

The newly-appointed Minister of State participated in the 0pening Day of the annual Bahamas Institute of Financial Services Week of Seminars, addressing participants on ***“Stimulating the Workforce Through Knowledge, Learning and Opportunities.”***

The Minister took the opportunity to speak to the prosperity of The Bahamas noting that per capita income stands at about $21,000 – the third highest amongst (independent) nations in the Americas, following only the United States and Canada.

Minister Laing is of the opinion that the level of prosperity achieved is a function of the output of the employed workforce. He told BIFS Seminar participants that the financial services industry in particular continues to contribute significantly to this level of prosperity, with the per capita income within the sector ranked higher than the national level.*”These many thousands of Bahamians (within financial services) produce the products and services that have generated a level of prosperity in The Bahamas envied by developing countries throughout the world.”*

Expressed assurance was given that the Government views the financial services sector as critical to the continuing and further growth and expansion of the economy and therefore the well-being of the Bahamian people. In this connection, the administration has committed to the continuing and increasing success of the sector. *(See Manifesto 2007)*

Referencing the theme of his presentation, the Minister of State pointed out that in any sector it is necessary to have a certain level of knowledge, learning and opportunity to attain success. *”If we are to both sustain and exceed our current level of prosperity as well as meet the demands of a maturing nation, we must up the ante as they say. We cannot be satisfied with self-adulation or exaggerated boast about what we have or have not done. We must simply acknowledge where we are, good or bad, plan for better and get to work trying to achieve it.”*

Noting that wealth prospects can be enhanced through enhanced knowledge, learning and opportunity – without adding a single new product, service or industry to the economy – Minister Laing called for a more stimulated workforce. *”We need in every sector of our economy people so inspired and motivated to achieve at work that the end result will be clients, local and international, eager to spend what they have and willing to spend even more.”*

Mr. Laing provided some practical suggestions for stimulating the workforce, noting areas of personal responsibility as well as workplace accountability:

**Knowledge**: While individuals have to focus on the value of knowing, reading, researching, consulting and being informed, the workplace also has the responsibility of appreciating the value of a knowledgeable staff, developing a knowledge environment, sponsoring and driving reading and research, and sharing information.

**Learning**: Individuals must craft learning objectives and develop a learning schedule. The workplace also has to craft learning objectives for the organization and develop a learning schedule – but in addition must invest in training and retraining.

**Opportunity**: Employees should be entrepreneurial, tie company profits to personal economic welfare, and seek ownership. On the other hand, the workplace must encourage entrepreneurship, profit sharing, ESOPs, and promote growth.

In its 2007 Manifesto, the Free National Movement emphasises the importance of human resources development, with a focus on enhancing planning, administration, infrastructure, personnel, curriculum and delivery of public education.