Maynard-Gibson to govt: Clearly articulate vision for financial services
The government could stand to better articulate its vision for the financial services industry – which has been continuously subject to blows and threats of sanctions over the past few years, despite concentrated government effort.
Asked if she believes the government’s legislative agenda for financial services will be effective in protecting the sector from mounting pressure from the European Union (EU), the Organization for Economic and Co-operative Development (OECD) and other international tax watchdogs, former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Allyson Maynard-Gibson said not without a proper vision.
“If one exists it should be clearly articulated. I don’t want to second guess what the government does, or what the AG or the minister of finance does, because they’re in the chair and they really see the whole picture. But I do think that it is important to have a vision that everybody understands on where we’re going as a country and why we’re doing what we’re doing,” she said in an interview with Guardian Business.
“For example, when I was minister of financial services, with the private sector we had a five-year strategic plan, so we knew what we were working towards. That kind of vision is important to get out there.
“I’m sure the attorney general knows what he is trying to accomplish and the minister of finance, but I’m not so sure that if we ask somebody on the street what is it that the government is doing about financial services, that they too would be able to fully understand it. To me that’s what is very important.”
Last year, the government outlined a 10-point plan for the financial services sector, which includes the passage of major commercial and financial sector legislation to support the development of a sound and market-driven financial sector; the expansion of participation in multilateral agreements; strengthening international collaboration; effectively managing risks and challenges from external shocks that impact the industry; upgrading digital infrastructure and improved ease of doing business; strengthening the Ministry of Finance’s intellectual capital with specialized skills to enhance its presence and representation in the international arena; managing the jurisdiction’s brand reputation and revamping its international profile; fostering resilience and sustainability within financial institutions; promoting innovation in the development of new financial services products and actively engaging industry stakeholders.
Beyond that plan, Maynard-Gibson said there are emerging sectors and niche markets that The Bahamas will be left behind in, if a plan to integrate them into the financial services sector from a government level isn’t explored.
“If you have young children – and I think we’re looking down the road in terms of how they can see themselves participating in the financial services sector which is a very important and well-paid sector – they should know where they are going and how they can participate. I don’t rely only on the stakeholders in the financial services industry to have a vision,” she said.
“I also think that young people, university students, high school students, persons in services should be able to invest in services, artificial intelligence services, technology services. These are all things necessary to support the financial services sector and they, too, should have a say in what the vision is and how we’re going to get there.”
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