PRIME Minister Hubert Minnis. (File photo)
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
DECLARING that the country will have to make “deep and far-reaching structural changes” to the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday it is “absolutely necessary” that the Bahamas becomes fully digitised.
He was speaking at the Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration’s virtual symposium about the country’s way forward in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and now, COVID-19.
In view of this, Dr Minnis said yesterday: “The full digitisation of the Bahamas at every level is absolutely necessary.
“Many of the bureaucratic roadblocks to the ease of doing business must be bulldozed. We must streamline the process for domestic and foreign investment in a broader range of industries.
“We are now in one of the most challenging periods ever in the history of the Bahamas pre- or post- independence. We are being summoned by history and by circumstance to build a new Bahamas, a new Commonwealth, and potentially one of the most successful small countries in the world.”
Noting that road to recovery will not be easy in the days ahead, Dr Minnis highlighted the need for more creative minds in helping to chart a new course for the Bahamian economy.
“In this great and historic ambition, we must utilise the full gifts of the Bahamian imagination and those global partners who wish to join us in this new Bahamian enterprise,” he said.
“As a major pillar of the Bahamas’ economy, the financial services sector continues to offer tremendous opportunities for our economy.
“While some industries have been brought to a standstill, the financial services sector has pushed ahead in a number of ways. The industry’s technological innovation has positioned it for recovery in the face of global uncertainty.
“Events like this symposium illustrate the government’s commitment to supporting the industry in weathering this pandemic.”
Dr Minnis noted that one way the government is demonstrating this commitment is through stakeholder engagement, adding that it’s important for “government, industry and civil society” to partner in order to rebuild and re-vitalise the economy.
During his address, the prime minister also reiterated the role of his newly-appointed Economic Recovery Committee, which makes recommendations to the government on the long-term economic recovery for the country.
“Over time, the committee will present a bold vision for a modern Bahamian economy that is resilient, dynamic, inclusive and sustainable,” he said.
“…I assure industry stakeholders that financial services is one of the primary areas of concern for the ERC as we work to build a resilient, dynamic, inclusive, and sustainable Bahamas economy.”
He continued: “We have seen what we can accomplish when we work together. After 80 years, the Bahamas remains a global leader in financial services.
“We are a well-regulated jurisdiction with expertise comparable to anywhere in the world. As the financial services industry evolves, my government will work to help the sector in its ongoing evolution.”