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Symonette looks to “grow and sustain” FS industry

Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette, says that steps are being taken to grow and sustain the financial services sector. The Minister made the remarks during his opening speech at the 15th annual International Business and Finance Summit. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)

Monday, March 5, 2018
Monday, March 5, 2018

Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette, says that steps are being taken to grow and sustain the financial services sector.

The Minister made the remarks during his opening speech at the Bahamas Financial Services Board’s 15th annual International Business and Finance Summit.

The event was held at the Baha Mar Convention Centre March 1, under the theme “Hit the Reset Button.”

Symonette said: “It is my mission to ensure that we engage industry, follow emerging trends and strategically position ourselves to be innovative as we move forward for the growth and sustainability of financial services in The Bahamas.”

He said that globally the financial services industry is constantly being threatened by increased global regulatory standards, unscrupulous persons wishing to use it for illicit or illegal activity, and technological changes that threaten human capital allocation.

As a result, the government is enhancing systems and processes to comply with global regulatory standards, creating and amending legislation and enforcement actions to thwart against illicit or illegal activity, and sharpening human capital resources to adapt to technological advances.

“Our progress thus far has consisted of new legislation and legislative amendments that affect various industries including financial services, immigration, trade and commercial enterprise, as well as, the implementation of appropriate structural and macroeconomic policies that are being designed to improve economic efficiency and to create conditions conducive for integration into the world economy,” he said.

“If trade and industry is not being constantly developed and new avenues for this to grow are not explored and implemented, trade in financial services and adjunct businesses that are created as a result, will have no room to thrive,” he said.

“The reason I am highlighting these areas, is because they have long been impediments to our continued success in financial services. Today, I can say, we have gained some ground on removing these impediments.”

Some of the initiatives include the Ease of Doing Business policy, which includes improvement in the business licence process and advances in technology.

“My Ministry is also engaged in discussions with the Governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas to relax exchange control, an issue which is of concern to many in the business community to access international finance across borders,” he said. “We believe that this relaxation will attract foreign direct investment and allow Bahamians and foreigners to move goods and products more freely and efficiently.”

The Securities Commission of The Bahamas is also making amendments to the Investment Funds Act.

This act, he noted, is out for consultation and will assist in enhancing this service. It is expected to be passed before the end of the year.

Another initiative is the Commercial Enterprise Act, which aims to make it easier for investors in specialized areas such as arbitration, technology, call centres, international and maritime trade and captive insurance to obtain work permits quickly and efficiently.

The government is also facilitating various immigration reforms, namely adjustments in the application process for short-term work permits for persons entering The Bahamas for the purpose of business for a period of less than 21 days.

“We have also revised our policy on permanent residency on the purchase of a residence. With effect from July 1, 2018, the threshold will be increased to $750,000 instead of the $500,000 threshold that has been in place for numerous years,” he said.

Other initiatives include human capital development, signing onto the Common Reporting Standards (CRS) protocols and expansion of financial services

“The Bahamas is known for its long history and knowledge in the wealth management space. In the next phase of our transformation, we must expand this space,” said Minister Symonette.

“We are exploring asset management, Global FX pricing and liquidity, and Fintech, just to name a few, as expansions to our current offerings in financial services.”

Fintech firm TigerWit, which is licensed in The Bahamas, has announced that it has secured a $5 million investment from US technology investment firm Susquehanna International Group (SIG). This capital will enable TigerWit to further advance its mobile-focussed trading technology and invest in new innovative technologies.

More than 70 destination wedding planners (DWP) from throughout the US assembled recently at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort in Nassau for a four-day wedding conclave and the unveiling of Sandals new ‘Aisle to Isle’ wedding program.

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