An initial six-month plan, unveiled by the Ministry of Financial Services, will address key areas linked to the economy, with head of the division saying the initiative is a microcosm of the party's five-year strategy.
Ryan Pinder outlined the plan - which has already begun - during his speech in the House of Assembly on Wednesday. Ease of doing business and embarking on a "listening tour" are at the forefront of the strategy. "We pledge to immediately perform an assessment that will identify the gaps and weaknesses identified by international indices," Pinder said.
"A process will be established to co-ordinate government agencies to address issues raised in international indices as well as locally conducted surveys; each agency will have to be convinced of the importance to address concerns quickly. "We will arrange and attend routine one-on-one meetings with industry participants including licensees, registrants, industry associations where we will introduce the Ministry of Financial Services to the industry and listen to main concerns as well as ideas/roadblocks for development of the industry.This will be the predicate for our strategic industry plan." In the second month of the plan, Pinder said the ministry hopes to launch an education initiative.
A committee will be formed with representatives from various sectors, offering educational courses and collaborating with The College of The Bahamas to create a program specifically for the financial services industry. The goal, Pinder said, is to fill the skill gaps of Bahamians in the sector. A series of market reviews will occur over the course of the six-month plan, with the first one scheduled for the second month where Asia and Latin America will be assessed. P
inder said since these regions are relatively untapped areas to The Bahamas, and the purpose will be to gauge the potential it has to the country. "We will initiate a strategic plan where existing information is gathered on scope of market, cultural attitudes, high-net-worth individuals within the region, financial services currently used, how is market currently covered, who are the major competitors dominating the market," he said. "In performing this review we will seek to identify the perception of The Bahamas in the market place and then create a marketing plan for the particular region from such information."
The same market review will occur in the following month for United States and Canada, where strategic advantages will be identified and implemented in the region marketing initiative - including the tax planning available to Canadians as a result of the Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA). Industry sector reviews will also take place, with the first one scheduled for the third month of the plan.
The insurance and funds sector will undergo assessment first, Pinder said. The domestic industry - including retail banking, credit and other financial services - should take place in the following month. In the latter part of the six-month plan, a jurisdiction review will occur that will integrate all of the sector and country reviews conducted and compile them into a comprehensive jurisdiction review. Local entrepreneurship in financial services will also be promoted towards the end of the initiative, where development plans will be introduced to encourage Bahamian ownership and involvement in the sector.
After all of the initiatives are carried out, Pinder said the comprehensive strategic plan will be in place, which will act as a means to restore confidence and grow the financial services sector. The final month will also mark the beginning of the five-year strategic plan. "The financial services industry is the second pillar of our economy, second only to tourism to contributing to our GDP," he said. "The financial services industry has the highest average salaries of any industry for Bahamians. "The challenge of the Ministry of Financial Services is to reverse the downward trend experienced under the prior FNM (Free National Movement) administration, to expand the industry, doing so that gives Bahamians the best opportunity for career development and entrepreneurial involvement in the industry."
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