From chairing the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG) to hosting the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, The Bahamas remains actively involved in the international arena. Some highlights:
**Bahamian PM to Chair IMF/World Bank Boards**
Bahamian Prime Minister The Hon. Hubert Ingraham has been selected to chair the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG).
As the chair of the 2011 meetings, Prime Minister Ingraham will be a primary channel of communication between the executives of the institutions and the shareholder countries.
According to some of the criteria given weight during the selection process, the new chairman’s country should be in good standing with the Fund and the Bank Group in terms of cooperation, participation and financial relations. The chairman’s country should also be in good standing in the international community, and the person selected to be chairman is expected to be widely respected among finance and development officials.
The chairmanship of the Board of Governors of the IMF and the WBG rotates among the five main regions Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and the Western Hemisphere.
**The Bahamas Hosts Global Forum Meeting**
The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes held its third meeting of its Peer Review Group in Nassau in July of this year. The Global Forum established the Peer Review Group (PRG) in September 2009, as a technical working group consisting of representatives of 30 countries, including The Bahamas. It is operating under a mandate to develop and implement a system for the assessment, monitoring and review of actions taken by member countries towards the implementation of the established standards for transparency and information exchange with regard to tax matters.
The review process will identify jurisdictions that are not implementing the standards, and these will be provided with guidance on the changes required and a deadline to report back on the improvements they have made.
The Global Forum has been the multilateral framework within which work in the area of transparency and exchange of information has been carried out by both OECD and non-OECD economies since 2000. The Bahamas has been an active participant of the Forum since 2002, and particularly was involved in the Working Group and Technical Sub Group mandated to define a “level playing field”.
The Bahamas submitted the required Memorandum of Trade Regime to the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation last year, formally launching the process for full membership accession. It has to prepare its initial Goods (market access) Offer to a Working Party meeting in June of next year. In this connection, Raymond Winder, Co-Chair of the Bahamas Trade Commission, and the nation’s lead WTO Negotiator, reports that the Government and the Trade Commission currently are collecting, collating and analyzing data, in preparation for ahead of bilateral discussions with trading partners.
The Bahamas’ WTO membership will be negotiated through the specially-formed Working Party, chaired by Jamaica’s Dr Peter Black, which will be comprised of representatives from its main trading partners, including the US, Canada and the European Union (EU), as well as other nations that have an interest in trading with The Bahamas. The objective is that this nation will emerge from the WTO accession process in the ‘net benefit’ column, and at the same time will enhance and make more competitive the overall business environment as a direct result from upgrades to the “doing business” infrastructure that will come as a part of the accession process.
**Bahamas Maritime Authority Opens In Hong Kong**
The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) officially opened its office in Hong Kong on October 25 to further enable round-the-clock support to ship owners and crew alike, and solidify its global position as a leading ship registry. BMA also has offices in London, New York and Nassau, making The Bahamas one of the world’s largest Registers with over 50 million gt of ships flying the Bahamas flag in every corner of the globe.
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham was on hand for the official opening. While in Hong Kong he hosted a reception for potential investors in the areas of tourism, financial services and maritime services.
The Government of The Bahamas is firmly behind the country’s growing maritime industry since it complements a wide range of other international financial services activities.
An example of the Bahamas importance in the maritime industry is the election of the Deputy Director of the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA), Captain Dwain Hutchinson to the chair of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Flag State Implementation (FSI) Sub-Committee – the first time since the inception of the FSI at IMO that this Sub-Committee has been chaired by a representative from any of the major flag states.
The Sub-Committee was established in 1992 to address the varying standards between flag states in the effective implementation of the international conventions. Its aim is to improve the performance of Governments. Today it has oversight for the status and implementation, by all IMO Member States, of the more than 40 IMO Conventions, hundreds of codes, guidelines and recommendations covering every aspect of design, construction, equipment, maintenance, safety, marine environmental protection and crew issues.
**IMF Mission to The Bahamas**
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team visited The Bahamas during August 30-September 10 to conduct the 2010 Article IV consultation and assess ongoing macroeconomic and structural policies and the medium term outlook for the economy.
The IMF Mission Head noted that going forward, Bahamian authorities indicated a commitment to maintain prudent macroeconomic policies, including fiscal measures to reduce a rising debt-to-GDP ratio and a monetary policy geared to supporting price stability and the US dollar peg. *“They also plan to continue with reforms to improve tax administration, increase fiscal responsibility, and transparency. Although the outlook is fraught with uncertainties and risks, the mission is confident that the resolute adherence to fiscal consolidation and an enabling investment climate will foster a stable macroeconomic environment and support sustained economic growth.”*