NASSAU, The Bahamas – After welcoming international attendees to The Bahamas, during his Official Remarks at the 15th Anniversary of the Nassau Conference of the Association of International Banks and Trust Companies in The Bahamas, on September 14, 2022, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis noted that the history of The Bahamas is one of “invention, disruption, resilience, and innovation.”
“Many think that our economic success in tourism was inevitable,” Prime Minister Davis said, during the event held at Baha Mar Convention Centre, under the theme “Bolstering Business, Accelerating Transformation.”
“In fact it’s easy to forget how risky a proposition it was at the time,” he added. “Imagine building an industry, that would depend on ordinary Americans, traveling abroad to lie on a foreign beach and do, well, nothing – and what’s more, pay for the privilege.
“And yet here we are.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that innovation in tourism was soon accompanied by the development of a robust Financial Services Industry, for many years largely an off-shore sector, but, at that current time, increasingly on-shore.
He added that the recent arrival and presence of the FTX Cryptocurrency Exchange underscores the readiness of The Bahamas to be a home for global leaders in the crypto space.
“Back in 2019, The Central Bank of The Bahamas launched the Sand Dollar, the world’s first digital currency,” Prime Minister Davis said. “And earlier this year, my Government launched a policy White Paper, outlining ‘The Future of Digital Assets in The Bahamas’.
“This paper sets out our vision and the supporting framework ‘to transform The Bahamas into the leading digital asset hub in the Caribbean, and a global leader in the progressive regulation of businesses in this profoundly innovative space’,” he added. “More recently, we enacted legislation and a framework to enable The Bahamas to deal and trade in Carbon Credits.”
Prime Minister Davis stated that The Bahamas was not only open and ready for business, but moving to the forefront of “this most exciting era of innovation: in digital assets, cryptocurrency, and carbon credits.”
“And it is our strong hope and expectation that you will partner with us in providing the necessary supplementary and complementary banking and financial services to ensure success in these areas,” he said.
He continued: “In my party’s Blueprint for Change, we made a number of commitments and policy proposals designed to strengthen and grow the industry. For example, we propose to: leverage niches and avoid industry disruption, including adverse listing; repeal the Commercial Enterprises Act, and grant work permits where no qualified Bahamian can be found; take immediate steps to clear all pending matters to be removed from blacklist, with proactive future monitoring; work with the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) and industry partners to progressively harness profitable niches in the Financial Services Industry, including, but not limited to, Fintech, Insuretech, Suptech, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency; equip and engage embassies to proactively mitigate against adverse listing.”
“My Government is a strong advocate for this industry with an open-door policy.”
Additionally, Prime Minister Davis pointed, his Government committed itself to enhancing the ease of doing business in The Bahamas. Some of the ways to achieve this were by revamping and streamlining processes at the Bahamas Investment Authority, Registrar General, Department of Inland Revenue and other agencies to become one of the most business-friendly countries for local and foreign investors, he said.
“The Association of International Banks and Trust Companies in The Bahamas has an important role to play in assisting the financial services industry and policymakers in achieving these goals,” Prime Minister Davis said. “We operate against the background of a history of challenges and attacks on our jurisdiction by a number of international bodies.”
“We have pointed out on many occasions the unwarranted nature of these attacks: that the international playing field was not always level, and that the proverbial goal post appeared to be constantly moving, even as our industry and government acted together in good faith,” he added.
“When we thought we had satisfied the requirements placed on us by these international bodies, we were confronted with yet another new set of industry compliance requirements and standards. I share the frustrations of the regulators and the service providers.”
He said that none of that “deters us from our efforts”.
“Notwithstanding the regulatory and compliance challenges, we have proven over and over again that by working together with a shared vision and rallying around common objectives, we can and have weathered the black-listings, the grey-listings and the watch lists,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“We have managed to build a credible, reputable, dependable, safe and well-regulated financial jurisdiction, with an international reputation for having the highest standards of business ethics and codes of conduct.
“You have been important players in this.”
Prime Minister commended the strong leadership, vision, tenacity and mental toughness of the Association of International Banks and Trust Companies of The Bahamas for staying the course for 46 years and in the process, building a resilient, transparent and well-regulated financial services sector.
“As an aside, I take note of your boot camp program that properly trains and initiates young up and coming financial service experts,” he added. “This junior cadet program is essential for succession planning and continuity in business leadership.”
Prime Minister Davis said that he trusts that the focus, tenacity, resilience and commitment to the continued growth and development of the industry and to The Bahamas’ way of life will continue long into the future.
“Your investment of 15 years of Human Capital Development, Partnership Building and Networking for Professionals, fortified by your 46 years of stakeholder advocacy have paid invaluable dividends and have contributed mightily to the fundamental soundness and resilience of our economy, our standard of living, quality of life, our way of life and our standing in the world of finance,” he said.
“I look forward to expanding our partnership as we grow and diversify the economy.”