Monday, February 9, 2015
Monday, February 9, 2015
Pictured: (from left) Prime Minister Perry Christie, Minister of Financial Services Hope Strachan and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell. (BIS Photos)
Prime Minister Perry Christie kicked-off the International Business and Finance Summit with an address at the CEO Dinner at the opening of the event February 5.
The four-day event was organized by the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) and was held at the Grand Lucayan under the theme: Creating a New Legacy.
During his address, the Prime Minister said it was important to improve and adapt to the environment and new challenges.
“The government of The Bahamas appreciates that this is a rapidly evolving and highly dynamic sector. The business is changing and so too must The Bahamas. The world will not wait for The Bahamas to be ready to compete.”
“Wealth is being created at a faster rate in new corners of the world. The new wealth from emerging economies together with old wealth from traditional America and European jurisdictions are still seeking a safe haven in stable, democratic countries of which The Bahamas is a prime example.”
Referring to a recent decision by China to allow The Bahamas to operate as a trading hub for its currency, the Prime Minister said that the government would convene a working group comprised of the public sector, private sector and regulatory agencies to chart the course for the Renminbi Trading Hub and to ensure that it has the infrastructure and processes in place to make it one of the most successful Renminbi hubs in the world.
The next day, the newly appointed Minister of Financial Services, Hope Strachan, gave an overview of her Ministry’s agenda.
“We want long-term investment in The Bahamas and we want to unblock barriers to that long-term investment, wherever practical. I want to meet with all of you: the large international firms, the independent firms, smaller houses, family offices and firms or persons interested in establishing themselves in The Bahamas. The objective is to collaborate and to develop a think tank or task force, so that we can remain on the cutting edge. It will also ensure continuity in our public/private partnership.”
The Minister said that there is a huge potential in the aviation and maritime sectors–especially given that there’s already infrastructure in place for the latter in the form of the Bahamas Maritime Authority.
She said that moving forward she wanted to focus on The Bahamas’ “reputational risk” and to do this by looking at:
- FATCA: The government is in the final stages of drawing up the legislation relating to the US’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and hopes to have it complete by June to adhere to the MODEL I framework
- Engagement with the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
The Minister said that promotional activities will continue in 2015. “We are seeking new business in new markets,” with the government continuing to co-brand events with BFSB, particularly in Latin America and Asia.
She added that the future of the sector was based on five “C”s: cognizance, creativity, consultation, compliance and competitiveness.
During his address on Friday afternoon, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said that the government is keenly aware of the balance that needs to be struck between enforcement of the laws and the welcoming nature that must be a part of the jurisdiction.
He advised that the government is seeking to work with the financial services sector on improving the range of products and the efficiency of the delivery of those services.
“Economic citizenship is not on the table, but permanent residence on an accelerated business remains a product which we offer,” he said.
The Minister said that a decision is in the works by the Cabinet to order the next generation of equipment to dramatically improve passport, work permit, residency and citizenship applications, entry procedures at the border and electronic entry at the gates at Lynden Pindling International Airport.
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