Nassau, The Bahamas – The Bahamas Financial Services Sector is “open for business,” as the country continues to fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic, said the Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration, the Hon. Elsworth Johnson.
Making his contribution to the 2021/2022 Budget Debate recently in the House of Assembly, Mr. Johnson outlined his ministry’s agenda for the ensuing fiscal year and specifically, in support of the Accelerated Bahamas Recovery Plan and adopting the recommendations of the Economic Recovery Committee.
“My Ministry is working with its counterpart agencies to realize the economic vision of this government. We are doing our part to build a dynamic resilient, inclusive and sustainable economy for all Bahamians,” Mr. Johnson said.
The Financial Services Sector remains the second largest contributor to The Bahamas’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP); and according to the minister, it has been resilient in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“The Bahamas Financial Services Sector is open for business. I can attest that the industry responded to COVID-19 very well,” Mr. Johnson told Parliament on June 10, 2021.
He added, “It never stopped servicing clients and thanks to strong business continuity plans, our jurisdiction fared well.”
Mr. Johnson further reported that during the pandemic, his ministry collaborated with private sector stakeholders such as the Bahamas Financial Service Board, and engaged in the “most important” event – the 2021 International Financial Services Virtual Policy Action Summit.
“My ministry, in collaboration with the private sector is constantly reimaging our financial services to make them stronger and more resilient,” he said.
The Minister also spoke of the growth in offices in the Family Islands as people chose to live, work and play in The Bahamas. There was also an increase in demand for economic permanent residency. This was met by the improved processing of applications in the Department of Immigration.
He observed that with the ongoing economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sector still under the threat by new and ever-changing international regulations, his ministry is more determined than ever to develop comprehensive policy recommendations and deliverables with set timelines and clear accountability.
Being “intentional” about the growth of the sector, Mr. Johnson said this will include the ease of doing business and digital transformation – one of the seven pillars of Accelerate Bahamas, complete overhaul of the Registrar General’s Department, focus on digital rebranding, among other things.
“A comprehensive report is being prepared with an action plan and steps to achieve desired outcomes. It is the intention that the final report will be presented to the Cabinet for approval and tabled in the House for all to see.
“We are preparing to reposition the Financial Services Sector for growth and innovation… and to ensure its sustainability for the long term,” Mr. Johnson said.