The Caribbean Group of Securities Regulators held its 12th Annual Conference and Workshop in Nassau, The Bahamas this week. The event was hosted by the Securities Commission of the Bahamas (SCB). The SCB was appointed 2016-17 Chair and Secretary of the Group at the 11th Conference in April 2015 in Jamaica.

On Wednesday, April 20, Minister of Financial Services and Local Government, the Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan, M.P. delivered welcome remarks for the event, held under the theme “Regional Capital Market Development and Regulation”.

She pointed out that *”a well regulated industry that adheres to international standards and best practices, makes my job of promoting The Bahamas as a jurisdiction of choice for financial services that much easier.”* Acknowledging the challenges facing IFCs generally as a result of the worldwide effects of the global financial crisis, she said The Bahamas has not only demonstrated its resilience and determination to remain relevant and competitive for the future, but also that the efforts made to meet compliance with international regulatory standards exceed the set standards – which serves to improve the reputation of the country and other IFCs in the region.

That notwithstanding, the Minister said there has remained a need to protect and defend continuing attempts to blacklist jurisdictions like The Bahamas. *“We have to continue to work together to strategise action plans towards resolving these matters and to sustaining our financial stability. We must take every opportunity to display the actions of the regulators in order to silence the voices of critics who continue to label IFCs in the region as tax havens.”* She referenced the necessity of tracking individual states within a country, or a block of countries, for blacklisting activities as countries like The Bahamas and similar international financial centres are constantly under this threat, despite having been deemed compliant by international regulatory organizations.

Christina Rolle, Executive Director at the SCB also presented remarks during the event. She affirmed the SCB’s commitment to the advancement of securities and capital markets oversight in the region and *”to realising tangible improvements in how we interact and cooperate on securities regulatory matters of mutual interest.”* Ms. Rolle recognised the CGSR forum as one that facilitates the high-level discourse essential to unifying and strengthening the sector, as well as providing the opportunity to collaborate for improved technical capacity. She maintained that the focus of regulation should be pragmatic solutions and technical capacity, leading to world class regulation that allows capital markets to *”better fulfil their vital roles in funding the real economy and supporting desired national development”*.

Minister Strachan also spoke to the issue of capital market development, insisting that such markets are vital to the functioning of any economy, as they are a critical component for generating economic output. *“In the Caribbean region, the availability and supply of capital is very limited. An efficient market provides competitive financing alternatives, which then generate indirect benefits to the real economy.”* She cited management of market perception and aggressive incorporation of innovation as key tools to strengthen capital markets in The Bahamas and the region.

Presentations and Panel Discussions covered a cross-section of topics including, ‘Challenges Faced in the Development of Small Island Nations’; ‘Risk Outlook for Caribbean Capital Markets’; ‘Public-Private Partnerships for Infrastructure Development’;
and ‘Payment and Securities Settlement.’

**About CGSR**

The Caribbean Group of Securities Regulators was established to create a forum for regional securities regulators to discuss issues facing Caribbean securities and financial markets. The Securities Commission of The Bahamas is a member of several international regulatory organizations including CGSR, the Council of Securities Regulators of the Americas (COSRA) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).

*Note: Photo courtesy of BIS/Derek Smith*