Laing: Legal aid needed for financial services
Greater participation from the legal sector would go a long way in increasing this jurisdiction’s competitiveness in the offshore world, said State Minister for Finance Zhivargo Laing.
“People say to us all the time I don’t do much more fund administration work with you because it’s difficult for us to get the kind of legal connection that[they get elsewhere],”he said.”In other words, they say our lawyers in New York have lawyers in St. Vincent and the Cayman Islands or Bermuda, but you can’t do that in The Bahamas and they claim that is a problem why they don’t do more business here.
“To the extent to which the legal fraternity is willing to open up themselves and allow more of that to get more of that business is the extent to which The Bahamas gains new ground. So some of those improvements[needed for the financial services sector]relate to what the private sector does, not only the government.”
Laing said the efforts could simply be Bahamian lawyers-when they go abroad at conferences-talking about the jurisdiction and making presentations, and essentially selling the jurisdiction.
It’s similar to what is being done by professionals in other countries and has led to advancement in their financial services image.
His comments follow a drop in The Bahamas’financial sector by five places in an annual competitiveness ranking of the world’s leading financial centers–now listed as 64 of 75 countries assessed in the report.
The placement came out in the latest Global Financial Centres Index(GFCI), which pointed to the possibility of The Bahamas now being perceived negatively following pressures by the OECD.
“The Caymans and The Bahamas are just not places to be seen doing business right now they still have(probably unfairly)a dirty reputation,”the report quotes a trust fund manager based in New York as having said.
According to Laing, the government was on the verge of rolling out new initiatives to help restore the jurisdiction’s image.
“My expectation is that the government, in conjunction with the private sector, in particular with the Bahamas Financial Services Board, will make some effort toward promoting, telling the world what reforms we’ve made and what we are now doing,”he told Guardian Business.”We have some major news to tell the world, because we are now on the so called white list in terms of TIEAs.
“So we are in full compliance on that score. We have a new Securities Bill that’s been tabled before Parliament and that would soon beenacted, and some other news that will represent a set of improvements for the sector. So I expect we will be taking some efforts in terms of written publication or otherwise to tell our story.”