**Hon. Zhivargo Laing
Minister of State for Finance**

Minister Laing delivered the keynote address at BFSB’s 2007 Financial Services Industry Excellence Awards Banquet last weekend, encouraging industry practitioners to continue to promote excellence in the second pillar of the Bahamian economy.

Noting that the purpose of every citizen is to achieve the level of happiness which his or her private initiative and community contribution can support, the Minister pointed out that this “national purpose” can be realised through *“a stable, productive economy under girded by the principles of free enterprise, equity and fiscal and monetary soundness.”* The BFSB was commended for its part in helping to achieve the national purpose by encouraging economic growth within the financial services sector.

*“The Bahamas Financial Services Board has excellently fulfilled its original mandate,”* Mr. Laing said; that is identifying opportunities for growth in the sector, and promoting The Bahamas as a jurisdiction of choice to key international players.

The annual Excellence Awards Banquet was touted as a testament of BFSB’s efforts and one of its initiatives aimed at encouraging Bahamians to perform at the highest level in order to adequately service the increasingly demanding clientele who patronise the sector. *“This banquet provides an opportunity for the industry to identify and honour those who have achieved success in their roles as executives and professionals within the industry,”* Minister Laing said, with an added element of honouring students who have also excelled, while studying toward a future in the industry.

Minister Laing took the opportunity to comment briefly on his recent trips to Guyana for the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting, to Washington for the IMF/World Bank meetings, and to New York for a Financing for Development Meeting at the United Nations. The general consensus, he said, is that global economic fundamentals are sound with developing countries showing strong prospects for growth despite weakening performance in some developed economies. *“These recent events reveal our need to be vigilant about our competitiveness and resilience, as they demonstrate the fact that our world is truly integrated but that sound national polices can serve as a shield in troubled times.

“Toward this end, we must promote excellence in service in our predominately service economy. Our professionals must step up to the plate and give their clients the type of service that makes them never give a second thought to where they want to get that service.”* the Minister concluded.