In her contribution to the Debate on the 2016/2017 Budget, the Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan, Minister of Financial Services, spoke to the important contribution of the sector to the Bahamian economy, noting that it accounts for (a) more than 15% of the GDP of The Bahamas, (b) more than 20,000 jobs directly and indirectly, representing more than 13% of total employment, and (c) generates substantial government revenues of approximately $200 million and 19% of the tax base. She pointed out that the sector contributes to the Bahamian economy as a whole by providing access to global capital markets and facilitating investment opportunities that would not otherwise be attainable, and which encourage entrepreneurial activities that foster economic growth.

*”Activities associated with the financial services sector also bring high-end customers and high-end investment to the tourism industry, real estate industry, as well as the use of legal, accounting, communication and transportation services in The Bahamas.”* All of these factors point to the need to invest more in aiding the growth and sustainability of the industry as a major economic contributor to the country, she asserted.

The Ministry of Financial Services is working with other relevant Governmental Departments, Industry Private Sector Participants, Financial Services Regulators, The Bahamas Financial Services Board and other relevant stakeholders to chart a course that will continue to promote and develop Financial Services in the Bahamas. The overall strategy for The Bahamas’ financial services comprises four components: vision, current advantages and opportunities, enablers and historical value. These are the building blocks from which to further develop the sector, according to Minister Strachan.

Global challenges continue to make the future for International Financial Centres unpredictable, and Minister Strachan is adamant that The Bahamas must ready itself through continued diversification of product offering, innovation ahead of the competition, continued investment in professional education, and a concerted effort toward the ease of doing business through a transparent system operating in a regulated environment with an enviably compliant culture.

Importantly, Minister Strachan also told Parliament that The Bahamas is committed to establishing a trading hub for Chinese currency and denominated securities. With the Chinese Renminbi (RMB) now a benchmark currency worldwide along with the US dollar, the Euro and pound sterling, this could lead to the establishment of the first Chinese bank in The Bahamas that would be a clearing bank for all international business transactions emanating from The Bahamas.

See below for the Minister’s full contribution to Parliament.