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PM Calls For Focus On Building Human Capital

Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday urged Caribbean countries to focus on developing a strategic human development policy in order to remain competitive in the global financial sector.

As keynote speaker during the opening of the Caribbean International Financial Services Forum at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, the prime minister, who also serves Minister of Finance said, more can be done to make the industry more competitive.

“Countries in this hemisphere (and I am talking about both the Caribbean and Latin America), must address this phenomenon known as the ‘skills gap’ because these gaps directly constrain what we can do, generally, and how we compete for mobile capital,” he said.

“Our discussion, therefore, must include our labour markets because the future of our centres relies on having a sufficient number of high quality financial services professionals with the depth and breadth of skills needed for a modern, innovative financial services industry.”
This three-day seminar provides Caribbean countries with an opportunity to share experiences, ideas and points on further developing the international business and financial services centres in the region.

Mr. Christie said that having skilled local talent is critical to moving the industry forward and that there must be improvements at the tertiary and professional levels to ensure that a sufficient number of citizens has the necessary skills to not only perform well but to think critically on the job.
He said that his government will ensure that Bahamians are prepared for changes in the financial sector.
“The Government of The Bahamas is not prepared to sit idly by with respect to addressing any real or perceived skills-gaps in The Bahamas.” he said.

“Therefore, I have directed the Minister of Financial Services to work with all relevant institutions within the Bahamian government and outside of the government to ensure that Bahamians are ready for the changing realities in the financial services sector. The Ministry of Financial Services, in concert with various public and private sector institutions, has been mandated to devise policy on the issue of ensuring that deep and wide skills exist in The Bahamas’ financial sector labour market.”

The prime minister added that in order to remain competitive, the financial services sector must also be innovative.
“Creative or Innovative places grow and develop, places that stifle creativity do not,” he said.
“Indeed, in The Bahamas – we are of the firm belief that the future of financial services is not just in the efficient and effective provision of services such as ensuring that we have fast turnaround times or that we are cost efficient, etc. No, the future of the financial services sector also relies on creativity and innovation.”
The financial services industry of the Bahamas is the country’s second largest industry, accounting for almost 20 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), and when combined with business services, accounts for about 36 per cent of GDP.

The forum is being held under the theme, “The Caribbean engaging the world in financial services.”

Technical experts from the United States, European Union and government representatives and regulators throughout the Caribbean region will lead discussions on economic growth, global regulatory developments, automatic information exchange, new products and new markets among other topics over the next two days.

This is The Bahamas’ first time hosting the forum.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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