Minister of State for Immigration the Hon. Branville McCartney met with executives of the Bahamas Financial Services Board Thursday to discuss issues relevant to the continued growth of the financial services industry; the second pillar of the economy.

The issues related to the industry’s requests for work permits for foreign workers were discussed during a courtesy call at the Department of Immigration on Hawkins Hill.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Brent Symonette; retired Director of Immigration Vernon Burrows; Wendy Warren, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, BFSB and Craig Gomez, Chairman; BFSB were in attendance.

“The fact that we are having this meeting shows that we are committed to improving the financial services industry in the country,” Mr. McCartney said.

He said the Government is aware that the financial services industry is the second pillar of the economy and has “done a pretty good job” in looking at matters relative to the sector.

“The idea is that we are here to provide a service and to be as accommodating within the law as possible. We also want to get rid of some of this bureaucracy and be more efficient in our process,” Mr. McCartney said.

Ms. Warren acknowledged that the Department of Immigration is “a very important” agency for purposes of financial services, primarily in the issuance of work permits.

“They need to have experts and persons who are involved with corporate brands that we have in The Bahamas to join with us in developing the industry,” Ms. Warren said.

She said a major priority for BFSB is the use of permanent residencies as a tool for economic development and there are many avenues from which this can be pursued.

“Firstly, directed at the financial services industry. In many ways, these individuals would do business in The Bahamas and where they have a permanent residency here, the amount of business and ties to our industry increase,” Ms Warren said.

She noted that in the broader sense these individuals bring important jobs and contributions to the industry in the construction area, and through ongoing employment and engagement with Bahamian businesses.

“So we really want to make sure that there is a policy and process that we can communicate to these individuals around the world that it is transparent, that speaks to a timeline and encourages them to consider The Bahamas amongst many options that they have and so we are really about growing the economy of The Bahamas,” Ms. Warren said.

“The Bahamas Financial Services Board really wants to work with the Government in any number of matters to ensure that policies are ones that we are able to communicate to potential clients and that the system operates in such a way that we can deliver commitments to these individuals, so that our reputation for being a high-quality destination is preserved,” she said.

The Government instituted the Bahamas Financial Services Board in 1998 “to promote a greater awareness of The Bahamas’ strengths as an international financial centre”. The BFSB represents and promotes the development of all sectors of the industry, including: banking, private banking and trust services, investment funds, capital markets, investment advisory services, accounting and legal services, insurance and corporate and shipping registry.