Having spent over 80 years providing a diversified selection of innovative Financial Services products to local and international clients, The Bahamas’ Financial Services sector stands out as a global leader with the legal and financial expertise to provide the highest level of service.
The Bahamas Advantage
The Bahamas is a stable, robust, well regulated financial and business centre. These competitive advantages, together with our common law tradition, an attractive tax and cost structure, and an investor-friendly business climate, have catapulted The Bahamas to its household name status in international business and capital development.
One of our major inherent advantages as a jurisdiction is our strategic location, just off the coast of the United States America. We are endowed with a prime and accessible location that makes The Bahamas a natural hub for regional and international trade. However, location alone isn’t everything.
Our Government is committed to leveraging our geographical strengths by investing in improving the ease of doing business to ensure that international and Bahamian investors alike have the necessary facilities to conduct business smoothly and efficiently.
Additionally, our Government looks to support the trade agenda with industries, such as our Financial Services industry, to ensure that the required services are present to do business effectively.
Training for Financial Services
The Bahamas Institute of Financial Services (BIFS) promotes quality training and education programs for the financial services sector. It is both innovative and responsive to the expanding needs of the business and financial community and works to develop creative synergy to foster an enhance sustained growth within the industry.”
The Institute is a not-for-profit institution established in 1974 to support the Bahamas’ financial services industry development.
Trade and Industry
The Ministry continues to advance international trade as a 3rd pillar of the economy in an effort to create economic stability and diversification.
A Trade Strategy for The Bahamas
The Ministry has been advancing a message which seeks to use trade policy and trade promotion to build on existing platforms and to forge an environment in which businesses with a commercial presence in The Bahamas may export products and services regionally and internationally.
In pursuing growth opportunities available through international trade, the Ministry has been advocating a value-added trade strategy that promotes The Bahamas’ integration into global value chains throughout North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Such a strategy has the potential of leveling The Bahamas’ trade imbalances by simultaneously increasing our export of goods and services.
A value-added strategy involves taking advantage of The Bahamas’ proximity to countries that can supply raw or semi-processed materials for further processing within The Bahamas, particularly Freeport. The existence of the free trade zone in Freeport located in the Northern Caribbean with accessibility to North, Central, and South America, increases its viability to become a trade hub for the hemisphere.
Department of Transformation and Digitization (DTD)
The Department of Transformation and Digitization (DTD) was officially launched by the Government of The Bahamas in November of 2019. It is an initiative to transfer and make all major government services accessible on online platforms, creating a more effective and seamless process for business to be conducted both locally and internationally with our government. Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Wayde Watson was given the portfolio of the digital transformation programme working along with a team of highly qualified IT specialists, accountants, and lawyers to implement the e-government endeavours.
The project’s goal is “to foster the competitiveness of The Bahamas by reducing the costs of conducting business with the Government”. In effect, this will reduce and/or remove the costs of red tape and delays, attract local and international business, contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through the financial service sector, increase the transparency of Government activities, strengthen the auditing and control mechanisms of the government for better governance of the country, and improve The Bahamas’ ranking on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report. Moreover, the day-to-day operations of the government will be less vulnerable and more resilient to the issues that arise with paper trails, such as the mismanagement and misplacement of documents. This also applies to the challenges which result from natural (hurricanes) and happenstance disasters (fires).
Digital Transformation Unit (DTU)
The DTU is responsible for implementing the Government Digital Transformation to Strengthen Competitiveness project, a 5-year, multimillion dollar transformation initiative. The objective of the initiative is to increase the ease of doing business in The Bahamas.
The DTU oversaw the launch of MyGateway, created by a local Bahamian software team. MyGateway is expected to facilitate online access to 200 government services by 2025. Notably, MyGateway.gov.bs customers can access and pay through the Digipay application across this centralized, safe, and secure platform.
The DTU has advanced the digital transformation journey of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas with the launch of MyGateway, proposing draft legislation that supports an eGovernment mandate, a public private partnership to create the first National Cybersecurity Strategy and National Cybersecurity Incident Response Team (CIRT) in conjunction with the United Nations. The DTU continues to progress the implementation of a National Electronic Identification System and The DTU continues to work closely with both public and private sector partners to progress the digital transformation journey of The Bahamas.
Bahamas National Statistics Institute (BNSI)
The Mission of the BNSI is to ensure that the Bahamian Government, businesses, and people are never hampered in their activities by inadequacies of statistics, their recent trends, or their interpretation; and in particular to ensure that the managers of the Bahamian economy in the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank and elsewhere, neither lack adequate statistics nor argue about them.
With the passage of the Statistics Act, 2021 in March, the Bahamas National Statistical Institute (BNSI) now has the statutory mandate for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of statistics, including the national census. The transition from the Department of Statistics to the Bahamas National Statistics Institute will take place over time.
FUNCTIONS OF THE INSTITUTE:
The functions of the Institute are to —
- collect, compile, analyze, and disseminate official statistics;
- conduct censuses and surveys as may be necessary from time to time in relation to the matters specified in the First Schedule;
- promote, develop, and maintain a National Statistical System in The Bahamas;
- direct, monitor, and evaluate the operations of the National Statistical System;
- carry out the National Statistical Strategy;
- make recommendations to the Board with respect to the annual budget of the Institute;
- ensure compliance with international best practices on the production of official statistics;
- liaise with other countries and regional and international organizations in relation to statistical matters;
- collaborate with individuals, firms, partnerships, associations, unincorporated bodies, companies, statutory corporations, ministries, departments, and agencies of Government in the collection, compilation, and publication of statistics;
- establish a fee structure for publications and data sets that may be produced and compiled by the Institute and effect charges related to the publication and data sets; and
- do all things which may be necessary or incidental to the discharge of any of its functions and powers under the Statistics Act, 2021.
The Consumer Affairs Division is mandated to enforce and monitor three primary pieces of legislation which focus on service to the community: the Price Control Act, 1971 and its Regulation; the Rent Control Act, 1975 and its Regulations; and the Consumer Protection Act, 2006.
Functions of the Consumer Affairs Division
Its functions are to:
- serve as prosecutor over any violations over the Price Control Act;
- monitor shops and stores on a rotational basis;
- respond to consumer complaints;
- police stores daily to ensure that merchants are in compliance with the law, and
- increase consumer education and awareness.
Officers of the Consumer Affairs Unit serve as agents for the Rent Control Board and the Prices Commission to ensure that consumers who may experience challenges with the providers of goods and services can find redress at the Commission.
Small Business Development Centre
The Government of The Bahamas has created an MSME policy and the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) takes advantage of this policy to benefit those who want to get into business and those already in business who want to improve outcomes.
The SBDC’s primary goals include:
- Improving the environment to enable small business to flourish.
- Increasing direct financing to MSMEs.
- Creating and promoting innovative programmes to support MSMEs.
- Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, with a particular focus on marginalized groups.
Partnership is a principal strength of the SBDC model. Public/private partners include the University of The Bahamas (UB), The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), and the Ministry of Finance. Through this powerful union, the SBDC has substantial resources to help build businesses.