The Hon. Ryan Pinder today contributed to the debate on the 2012/2013 Mid-year Budget in the House of Assembly, saying that the Government is taking a “balanced approach” to ensuring the continued diversification of the economy. Such an approach, he said, demonstrates fiscal responsibility, yet strives for opportunities and advancements for Bahamians.

Minister Pinder outlined key components of the approach taken by the Government:

(1) Responsible and efficient expenditures causing savings where they can be achieved;

(2) Ensuring revenues owed to the Government are efficiently and effectively collected without raising taxes to Bahamians; and

(3) Ensuring policies for economic growth and advancement for Bahamians and companies not only exist but are continually and aggressively advanced.

##Financial Services##

The Minister reported that his Ministry, through each key area of its portfolio, has engaged on a comprehensive review of the state of the economy, and developed initiatives and strategies to advance The Bahamas. *“We have caused the profile of The Bahamas to be raised in each instance, and have provided for continued education for Bahamians and development of the country.”*

In followup to a 6-month initiative announced shortly after taking office, the Minister launched the Ministry’s 10-year strategy for the redevelopment of the financial services at BFSB’s International Business & Finance Summit last month in Bimini. This included, as well, a rebranding of The Bahamas as a full business services centre, and a comprehensive approach to increasing the competitiveness of The Bahamas as a business centre. In this connection, the Ministry is focusing on Human Capital Development, Competitiveness and Innovation.

Outlining some steps already taken, Minister Pinder said:

** We are determined to be engaged with the region and to take a leadership position on matters which affect our second industry. In this context, we are in the process of ensuring a regional committee of Financial Services is launched to address many of the international outcomes in financial services collectively. Our sovereignty allows us the unique position to make policy taking into consideration Bahamian interests as a priority.*

** The Ministry of Financial Services, consistent with the pledges made, have caused for sector and geographic analysis to be conducted, ensuring that key markets of growth are identified and pursued. Certainly key markets in Latin America as well as North America have been identified for growth. We also have identified particular sectors for growth, such as the fund business given our recent achievement of IOSCO A status, and we prepare to launch a new strategy for captive and international insurance, as new product enhancement.*

** Consistent with the forecasted financial services industry review, we developed certain concerted policy initiatives to advance the industry, and the participation and advancement of Bahamians in the financial services industry.*

** We in the Ministry of Financial Services are excited about launching the program to develop the jurisdiction as a preeminent International Commercial Arbitration Center. The Ministry of Financial Services have partnered with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators branch here in The Bahamas to cause for joint educational initiatives of our professional industries, judiciary and Bahamian students. This is imperative to ensure capacity is developed and build upon in the furtherance of the Bahamas as a world renowned arbitration center. We have to likewise build capacity in our practitioners on the international stage. With leave of the Prime Minister, we will cause the International Arbitration Council of The Bahamas to be formed, designed to provide advice and guidance to the Government on infrastructural needs and other matters relative to the establishment of the International Commercial Arbitration Centre.*

With relation to the trade portfolio of the Ministry, Minister Pinder also spoke the launch of a Value Added Trade Strategy for The Bahamas, with a focus on actively utilizing existing and prospective trade agreements to foster regional integration, develop business networks and enhance this nation’s trade infrastructure.

Commending the Prime Minister and the Minster of State for Finance for their balanced approach to prudent stewardship, Minister Pinder pointed out that 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 international trade and industry. *“Each component is an important element of our economic development, one building on the other. A robust industrial sector supports a trade agenda. A dynamic trade industry provides the foundation for the expansion and further development of the financial services industry.”*