In Closing Remarks to the Debate on the 2013/2014 Mid-Year Budget Statement, The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, spoke to the success of the financial services sector resulting from a combination of talent and sound “growth-focused” government policy. Noting the role of the sector as an important driver of wealth creation in The Bahamas, the Prime Minister commented on the evolution of financial services as changes in the global landscape occurred – throughout which keen practitioners, aided by legislators, were able to ensure that The Bahamas was able to meet the legitimate needs of clients. *“And so we saw the introduction of the regulation of the banking sector in the mid-1960s, and subsequently other legislation over the years to formalize and modernize this industry”,* he said.
The Prime Minister, who also serves as Minister of Finance, attested that The Bahamas is emerging from this period of evolution with the best in class. *“Indeed, the value of our dollar remains strong and credible and our economy continues to strengthen. Our domestic financial services sector remains robust – surviving without significant upheavals as unfortunately experienced in many countries. Foreign investment continues to flow into the country, demonstrating continued confidence in the fundamentals of The Bahamian economy and in our people. Finally, our international financial services sector continues to attract new and significant entrants creating employment opportunities for Bahamians.”*
Banking was quoted as a major component of this jurisdiction’s offering, but the Prime Minister referenced the full range of trust, fund, insurance, and wealth preservation and asset protection services, all a part of The Bahamas’ FSI Toolkit. *“We continue to develop our services for the high-net-worth individual, including: second home, yacht and aircraft services. And, The Bahamas is developing itself as a seat of arbitration, particularly for financial services and trade disputes, taking advantage of our unique geographic position at the crossroads of the Americas.”*
In support of continuing evolution of the sector, the Government of The Bahamas has been championing several new initiatives, including the pursuit of new products and markets and targetted plans to remedy any deficiencies observed when analyzing the strengths and perception of weaknesses. *“Our marketing strategy is not driven by whim, but by evidence based research and collaboration with industry as to what is working and what is needed for continued growth”*, he said.
The Prime Minister also recognised the ongoing need to sensitize the Bahamian public to the reality that financial services is everyone’s business, as is growth of the sector – which will require a new thinking and a new level of support in terms of attracting foreign persons with significant talent and means. *“I do not believe that a policy of development-focused immigration is at odds with a policy of progressive national development. Indeed, they complement each other.”* In this connection, he referenced the design of a transparent, predictable and user friendly immigration policy to attract those foreign investors and entrepreneurs who intend to make a meaningful commitment to the overall development of The Bahamas.