May 22, 2020
Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration, the Hon. Elsworth Johnson said that although the country is still following a lockdown protocol as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s financial services sector remains open for business. The minister made the remarks during a virtual conference, which saw the participation of some 350 stakeholders. The event was held on Wednesday, 20th May at Office of the Prime Minister. Minister Johnson said that the ministry has taken several measures in order to ensure the future of the industry.
“I also echo the Prime Minister’s sentiments and commend the financial services sector for remaining open for business, responsibly. Years of technological innovation, has made it resilient, even given the challenges that this global pandemic has presented.
He said that as a result of the current protocols in place in the face of the pandemic, the methodology used in the past is no longer applicable. Consequently, events such as industry breakfast and in-person stakeholder meetings cannot be conducted at this time. In addition, with travel restrictions and worldwide border closings, the conventional approach to international engagement and promotion, is not an option. He said that currently, the Ministry is nearing completion of a modern website.
“For the first time, a Ministry-wide communication strategy will guide the use of these and other public relations assets.” He said the industry stakeholders could expect increased and more strategic consultation in the coming months.
The Minister pointed out that in a bid to boost internal capacity, a Director of Financial Services has been appointed. Further, a Deputy Director has been appointed, a first-ever move for the Ministry.
Another area that is being addressed is that of legislation. Minister Johnson said that the Ministry would follow an aggressive legislative and regulatory agenda.
“ I am happy to inform you that we have begun making substantive progress on tax residency certificate legislation, working closely with the Law Reform Commission in the Office of the Attorney General.”
Digitalization will be another feature that will be beefed up in the Ministry. He said that progress has been made for an Integrated Immigration Management System, which started in 2016, however it is not complete.
“Our goal is not just to streamline immigration processes through digitization, but to also eliminate corruption by making the system cashless through online payments.”
The Minister had a positive outlook for the future of the industry stating that although there is still much work to be done, by working together, the financial services sector can build upon the unique qualities which has made the Bahamas a ‘clear choice” for financial services.
By Betty Vedrine