**The Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham
Prime Minister**

Addressing members and guests at the Bahamas Chamber’s annual Gala Ball over the weekend, Prime Minister Ingraham indicated his aim to continue ongoing dialogue with the business community on the best means of cooperating and collaborating *”to make doing business in and from The Bahamas more efficient, more productive and more sustainable.”*

He pointed out the Government’s belief that important components of moving with the times include:

· making The Bahamas a more technologically sophisticated country;

· making The Bahamas a more competitive and hence, productive country; and

· making The Bahamas a more efficient centre in which to do business.

*”As a governing party we are committed to programmes for institution building, infrastructural enhancement, fiscal discipline, investment and improvement in education and technical and vocational training, adoption of new technologies, and support for business growth and development.

“We are conscious that a slow or non-responsive public sector will overwhelm efforts at modernization in the private sector, to the detriment of Bahamian business and hence to the detriment of Bahamian economic and social advancement. Inefficiencies, some imposed by government regulation or practice, hamper business productivity in our country today. A reduction of bureaucratic obstacles for domestic and international business will therefore, on my watch, once again be a governmental priority.”*

New economic realities – the liberalization of trade regimes, the rapid development of new technologies and the proliferation of large trading blocks – create special challenges for business, said the Prime Minister. He said The Bahamas has competed successfully in tourism and in financial services, with this domination in the economy occurring at a time when most of competitors of today did not recognise service as an industry at all. *”The Bahamas soon became the trend-setter in the provision of services and has maintained its position as a leader, notwithstanding growing competition from other countries both within the Caribbean and, more recently, beyond. That we have been economically successful is evident by the fact that we have, for many years, enjoyed the third highest per capita income among independent States in the Western Hemisphere, following only the United States and Canada.”*

The Bahamas cannot be content with past success as the basis for future performance, the Prime Minister continued. Specifically with regard to the financial services sector, he noted that opportunities also exist to deepen value-added where qualified professionals offering services that run the gamut from traditional banker, wealth advisor, and investment consultant, to accountant, lawyer, actuary, administrator and realtor remain in high demand and where quality service commands spectacular returns. *“The World Economic Forum report on competitiveness maintains that wealth is created in an economy at the microeconomic level – in the ability of firms to create valuable goods and services using efficient methods. At the national level, we shall secure our opportunities by rediscovering our advantages and exploiting them wisely and by confronting our weaknesses and shortcomings and addressing them quickly. That essentially is how we ensure our competitive position in efficiency and productivity.”*