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Banks Told: Bahamas Still 'Open For Business'

A Cabinet minister has pledged that The Bahamas remains “open for business” despite the devastation inflicted on Abaco and Grand Bahama almost two weeks ago by Hurricane Dorian.

Elsworth Johnson, minister of financial services, trade and industry and Immigration, told the Association of International Bank & Trust Companies’ (AIBT) Nassau Conference: “Like the recent hurricane, The Bahamas financial services industry has weathered many storms but we will stand.

“Today is no different. We are, indeed, going through an evolution; not only for the financial services industry but also for the country’s economic future. One that gives us the opportunity to chart our own course and shape our own future. Thus your theme is most appropriate.”

Mr Johnson said his ministry was embarking on several initiatives with the AIBT and the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) in a bid to ensure the industry’s sustainability.

He added that steady progress was being made in improving the “ease of doing business” in The Bahamas, but the process takes time. “Things are improving in technology, and there are government-wide initiatives across all departments to streamline processes, increase efficiency and alleviate red tape,” Mr Johnson said.

The minister added that changes have been made to legislation concerning Know Your Customer (KYC) processes, money laundering and terrorist financing.

Mr Johnson said Immigration matters are also being addressed. He explained that the Ministry of Financial Services, recognising the importance of a modern, progressive Immigration framework for the growth of the financial services sector, has developed a new tax residency programme.

“It is anticipated that this programme will serve as a gateway to more permanent residence options for high net worth individuals and investors,” Mr Johnson said.

He added that the government will continue to seek new business for the country via promotional tours and conferences, which have been scheduled through to the end of 2019.

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