GB holds the Key: Ryan Pinder says Grand Bahama can fortify Bahamas as premier International Financial Centre
By Yasmin Popescu
Instead of increasing the cost of tariffs on imported items grown and sold in The Bahamas, the Minister of Finance and Industry Ryan Pinder says they are looking to establish a regulatory body to inspect local items.
Speaking to the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce last week, The Minister says that he has undertaken an intelligence gathering and network building exercise since coming to office.
"This is to ensure that my team and I are fully appraised of the current issues and concerns of all stakeholders affected by my portfolio," said Minister Pinder. "With the information gathered, and with the partnerships developed between my Ministry and the financial, commercial and industrial communities, we will address the identified issues and concerns with precision and fervency.
"In the area of Financial Services, I have already begun to execute a six month strategic plan which will fortify and expand the Financial Services Sector of our country.
"It is anticipated, that this fortification will extend to the financial and professional services offered here on Grand Bahama. Grand Bahama is key to the Government's agenda to fortify The Bahamas as a premier International Financial Centre.
"Already we have undertaken a review of amendments proposed by BICA to the Public Accounts Act, enhancing the provision of those professional services.
"A team of professionals are in the process of finalizing the foundation and structure for the creation of an International Commercial Arbitration Centre."
Pinder said that strong consideration is being given by the Government to actually headquartering that Arbitration Centre here on Grand Bahama.
He stated that the International Commercial Arbitration Centre is innovative and that executing this promise made in the PLP's Charter for Governance is a direct sign of the Government's intention to fulfill the commitments made to the island of Grand Bahama.
"The International Commercial Arbitration Centre," he said, "will allow for a diversification of services, which we are able to provide to the international community.
"It will also place a spotlight on the island of Grand Bahama.
"We anticipate that spin off business activities will come from this and further boost this economy," the Minister added.
"Moreover, with the increase visits which we expect for these purposes, there will be increased business tourism and opportunities to showcase Grand Bahama for further investment.
"In both the areas of Financial Services and Arbitration, the Ministry of Financial Services is eager to network and partner with yourselves so that we are able to create products which far exceed other similar jurisdictions.
"We particularly want to develop a dialogue with yourselves regarding the implementation of the Government's Trade Agenda.
"As you are aware, the Government is actively pursuing accession to the World Trade Organisation.
"Part of this accession process is also negotiating bi-lateral agreements with The Bahamas' major trading partners."
Additionally, Pinder said, the Trade and Industry Unit of his Ministry is aggressively seeking to implement the provisions of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and CARIFORUM (which is the Caricom Community and the Dominican Republic).
"Moreover, we are part of negotiations for a revised CARIBCAN agreement between Canada and the region," Pinder added.
"This Trade Agenda is substantial to implement. It is of paramount importance to the Government that this process be executed carefully, so as to ensure that Bahamians and businesses in The Bahamas are placed in the most advantageous position.
"Our primary objective, while protecting positions, which we currently enjoy, is to expand the market access available to businesses located here.
"We will not cease until we are able to accurately and favourably report that exports from The Bahamas have made significant increases.
"Moreover, the industry component of my portfolio seeks to ensure that existing local businesses expand production, and that new and innovative areas of industry are developed.
"To this end, we have undertaken both an aggressive legislative agenda and industry capacity building."
Pinder stated that he wants to create a partnership with the financial, commercial and industrial communities.
© 2012 The Freeport News