By Clint Watson
The Bahamas is undertaking “dramatic new reforms”, including advancing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA, to attract new business to The Bahamas, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.
Dr. Minnis made a major pitch at the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, on Friday, and said that The Bahamas is a favourable place to conduct business.
The prime minister used the ten-minute speaking opportunity to remind leaders that it is their responsibility to create the best environment in which businesses in our respective jurisdictions, may flourish.
“Transparency and integrity are crucial in this process,” said Dr. Minnis.
“Toward this end, the government of The Bahamas is undertaking dramatic new reforms. These include enhancing provisions for confiscation of assets derived from corrupt means; enhancing the independence and autonomy of the Office of Public Prosecutions; advancing the freedom of information from the government to the public; and taking the first steps to establish an ombudsman office to foster open fair responsiveness in our governments.”
The prime minister also promised an integrity commission to spearhead reform and investigate issues related to corruption, financial disclosure, malfeasance and misfeasance, while strengthening the public-sector code of conduct and bolstering whistle blower protections.
Dr. Minnis said, the focus of The Bahamas and the region, is to implement international best practices that will make us leading jurisdictions in the hemisphere.
“We are optimistic that these steps, in addition to other proposed initiatives, will enhance the attractiveness of our country as one in which to invest and conduct business,” he said.
The prime minister said there is still much work to do to strengthen financial institutions in proportion to our economy. On matters of tax and information exchange, he said the countries of the hemisphere, large and small, ought to have a seat at the table.
Noting that The Bahamas has always been a paradise for tourists, he said, “we are also a paradise for business and investments.”
He invited leaders and business persons in the Americas to explore The Bahamas.
Bragging that the Bahamian people represent an excellent pool of skilled labour, particularly in banking, accounting and legal and professional services, the prime minister said, “We are moving toward a smart approach to connecting our archipelago. We are steadily climbing on the information and communication technology (ICT) index. In 2017, we were ranked eighth in the hemisphere and second in Caribbean for ICT connectivity.
“As we continue this smart approach, we anticipate enhanced and more automated services and government transparency. We are positioning ourselves to become a hub for technology, innovation and industry.
“We recently enacted the Commercial Enterprises Act. This encourages both domestic and foreign investment in The Bahamas, in strategic sectors.”
The prime minister also said the new act is designed to provide for economic zones with favourable terms for business development.
“I invite you to consider investing in the new Bahamas, where you’ll find a paradise brimming with opportunity. In The Bahamas, the Americas has a partner, committed to our common task of building a more dynamic, prosperous, transparent and equitable hemisphere.”
Following the two-day summit, the nation’s leader will lead a delegation to London, for a number of meetings including the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).