Echoing some of the key messages enunciated in the Speech from The Throne as delivered at the Opening of Parliament, new Minister of Financial Services the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, M.P. has accepted the charge to secure and expand the second pillar of the economy. The Minister was contributing to the 2012 2013 Budget Debate in Parliament this week.

He pointed to the Prime Minister’s vision for a Ministry of Financial Services to focus on a sector where high paying careers for Bahamians are found — and, where a focus on making it easier to do business in The Bahamas is the call of the day. Where clients and investors the world over see The Bahamas as the preeminent jurisdiction to do business, to base themselves from, and to expand in. *“This is the charge, and we are ready for it.”*

Minister Ryan also reiterated that the Government is wedded to the belief that private enterprise should remain the primary engine of job creation and entrepreneurial opportunity in the country, and that tourism and financial services, supported by industrial expansion, fisheries and agricultural production should be the chief areas of economic activity in The Bahamas. *“Government is committed to the formulation and execution of policies that will encourage private investment in these areas while maximising job creation and career development for Bahamians in the shortest possible time.”*

Noting that the Government’s current mandate will be to ensure that the financial services industry will not merely be “Better in The Bahamas” but “Best in The Bahamas”, Mr. Pinder emphasised that the Ministry of Financial Services has a plan, and is building a great team. Included in some of the initial plans in the Ministry for *“the development of the financial services industry, providing an expanded industry, creating employment and career development opportunities, all for the best interest of Bahamians”* are:

1) Medium and long term marketing and promotional plans for the financial services industry across all sectors – Banking, Trusts, Private Equity Funds, Investment Funds, Insurance, Registered Entities, Ship Registry, Aircraft Registry and International Arbitration;

2) Analysis of the international competitive landscape and development of a strategy position for growth and strengthening of the industry;

3). Rebranding of The Bahamas as a major International Financial Centre;

4). Liaising with the Attorney General’s Office for the development and improvement of existing legislative toolkit, including dialogue with and assistance to the Registrar General’s office on issues of operational efficiency and service;

5). Organisation and participation in promotional tours and establishment/development of relationships with international advisors;

6). Encouragement and development of internationally recognised training programs to improve the quality of locally available staffing in the financial services industry. To include establishment of training and education to help define career paths for Bahamians in the financial services industry;

7). Advancement and promotion of financial services in the domestic market in accordance with international standards. This will provide the basis to assess the needs and concerns of independent service providers and to develop a programme for the promotion of entrepreneurship in the financial services industry.

*“We have a tremendous opportunity as a country and as a Government to reform the economic model of The Bahamas, building and expanding our current industries while committing to the development of additional sectors of our economy, and possibly developing new foundation industries where Bahamians can prosper”,* said the Minister. *“These truly are exciting times in our country..dynamic and progressive times.”*

The Ministry of Financial Services is not only the representative ministry of the second pillar of the economy, but is also responsible for the promotion and development of the economies related to trade and
industry. Each component is an important element of economic development, one building on the other. The Minister concluded that the Ministry has started its initial 6-month strategy plan, which will be expanded into a more comprehensive 5-year strategic plan for the Ministry of Financial Services. Effectively, month 6 will begin the initiation of the 5-year strategic plan.