The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, M.P., Bahamas Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, addressed the [Commonwealth Business Forum](http://chogm2015.mt/fora/business) (CBF) held in Malta on November 24-26, immediately before the 2015 [Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting](https://chogm2015.mt/about) (CHOGM), hosted this year by the Government of Malta on November 27-29.
The CBF took place for the first time at the Edinburgh CHOGM of 1997; since then it has featured prominently as part of the CHOGM programme. The theme for the Forum was Adding Global Value – Creating a More Prosperous Commonwealth and Prime Minister’s speech focussed on [“Financial and Professional Services: Delivering Jobs and Growth.”](http://www.bahamas.gov.bs) He highlighted the benefits that the development and growth of the financial and professional services sector can have on emerging and developed Commonwealth economies.
He said, *“The Bahamas has cultivated one of the most robust and politically stable economies in the region whose tax climate, skilled workforce and attractive lifestyles continue to attract high net worth investors in commercial and real estate ventures. Our success in building such a stable economy can be attributed to the emphasis successive Bahamian governments have placed on the twin economic pillars of tourism and financial services which in our context have matured as export industries and an enabling environment over the 42 years of our existence as an independent country.”*
Singling out the role financial services has played in helping The Bahamas transform itself into a modern economy over the last 80 years, he noted that the sector accounted for 15% of GDP and indirectly for just over 30% of the economy. *“It is directly responsible for the development of a major share of the middle and upper class of the country, with an average salary of nearly double the average GDP capita. However, more importantly, the financial services sector provides an avenue for Bahamians to translate their hard-earned educational accomplishments into meaningful careers and opportunities for entrepreneurial activity.”*
He maintained that the business of financial services has the potential to lift countries out of poverty, to make advances in terms of education and infrastructure and to create vibrant middle classes. Success in the financial and business services sector is driven by key factors such as business environment, political stability and collective trust in the legal system. *“As we all know these are the same tenets that support better governance. And so this industry is not only of economic benefit, but will encourage its participants to improve their systems of governance.”*
Prime Minister Christie spoke to requirements for successful financial centres. *“As the financial services sector requires high quality infrastructure, countries which successfully pursue a service based economy must invest in quality telecommunications, computer technology and physical infrastructure such as roads, airports and basic utilities. The success of these centres also requires political stability and therefore to be a thriving financial services jurisdiction, a country must invest in modern legislation and procedures which result in sound business practices and efficient legal systems. Successful centres also require low levels of corruption. These are all core elements necessary for meaningful economic development.”*
He concluded that the pursuit of the financial services and professional sector can dramatically change the course of history for many countries and should be embraced by the Commonwealth in support of the development agenda rather than reacted to with the high degree of unfortunate suspicion. *“We are all aware that the global financial architecture is under review. Rules, norms and standards are changing quickly. The Bahamas, as a responsible financial centre, understands that we must meet the challenges of regulating in a globalized environment. The world has never felt so big and yet so small at the same time. The problems that we face in 2015 are more complex. The battlefields of global wars are as much on the front lines as in the boardrooms of financial services businesses. We must all be vigilant and jealously guard our jurisdictions from those that wish to engage in financial crimes or other imprudent activities. We must all adopt responsible policy.”*
CHOGM Malta 2015, also under the theme *“Adding Global Value”*, concluded on November 29, with a Leaders Statement (see below).