The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was returned to power in a general election held in The Bahamas on September 16. The PLP led by its leader Philip Edward “Brave” Davis won control of the 39 seat Parliament by capturing 32 seats. In his first remarks to the industry at Bahamas Financial Services Board’s Annual General Meeting, newly appointed Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis, whose portfolio includes financial services said, “As the second pillar of our economy, bolstering the financial services industry must be placed at the highest priority. We will continue to identify and leverage niches where we can be most competitive while remaining proactive about our response to ever-evolving global standards and regulations.”
Minister Halkitis said the Government intends to deliver a more diverse economy through investments in technology, renewable energy, sustainable tourism, and the green, blue, and orange economies. “Within the financial services sector itself, now is the time for industry partners to progressively harness profitable niches,” he said. “Widespread access to emerging opportunities within these growing sectors will be essential to moving this country forward along a path of exponential growth and progress.” He said the government will do its part in spurring innovation through its digitization and ease-of-doing-business efforts, which his ministry will lead the charge on. “We will roll out the technologies that will allow government services to be as efficient and effective as possible, while introducing policies that will empower entrepreneurs rather than impeding them with bureaucracy and red tape.”
Echoing these comments newly appointed Attorney General Ryan Pinder noted that while it is important to be compliant with the international regulatory framework in financial services, The Bahamas must also remain innovative and progressive in its offering. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” quipped the Attorney General. “We can regulate to be compliant with international best practices and innovate to give our industry a foothold for continued growth,” he said. You cannot regulate yourself out of business… you have to provide opportunities and this administration will provide those opportunities.” Attorney General Pinder said he is committed to working with the Minister of Economic Affairs to ensure that The Bahamas remains at the forefront of financial services innovation and opportunity. “This will require legislating new product offerings, facilitating the ease of doing business and commercial transactions, working closely with other agencies of the government in order to ensure that we are viewed as a jurisdiction that people want to live and do business in,” he said.
In commenting on work that was done during a Policy Action Summit held earlier this year, Minister Halkitis said the recommendations made related to the ease of doing business and digitization, mitigation of the impact of international initiatives, reforms to the Registrar General’s office, and rebranding of the jurisdiction, among others, align with the ultimate objectives of his Ministry and the new administration to introduce much-needed reforms to promote economic growth and resilience. “As we move forward with the development and execution of our substantive policy agenda, it is recommendations like these, developed jointly between government stakeholders, the BFSB, and the private sector, that will continue to inform our work,” he said. “This is just the start of an ongoing, multifaceted dialogue between us. You can expect that we will continue to reach out and consult with our valued partners as international initiatives are addressed and policy position are taken. You can expect us to continue the events and opportunities for engagement that have become common between government and private sector stakeholders over the last two years.”