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Bahamas Financial Services Looking to E-govt for Competitive Boost
E-government can lend cachet to The Bahamas’ financial services industry, in some regards putting the sector on equal footing with key global players, according to an industry leader. Critical will be the extent to which the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), particularly the companies registry, is able to optimize performance through the new e-portal, according to Chairman of the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) Paul Winder. He told Guardian Business once the registry is fully incorporated into the new e-government service, it will bring a cutting-edge advantage to the jurisdiction, so long as the website’s promises are delivered on. “It brings an ease of doing business to The Bahamas -- the speed, access, and having everything that you have to do laid out,” Winder said recently. “So it brings clarity to processes and I think it will increase the reach both from within The Bahamas and externally.” “I think it will give us a comparative advantage over other jurisdictions.” According to Winder, efficient online access with speedy execution and responses, “backing up what is on the website” as he described it, will better equip the jurisdiction to compete with some of the key players in the world. The RGD was a trailblazer in the local move to e-government – one of the first agencies that had online services according to Carol Roach, project manager for the e-government project team. State Minister of Finance Zhivargo Laing told Guardian Business after the new portal launch, that the companies section of the RGD should have the full benefits of the new e-government service in short order.


“We expect to put the company business registry on a high priority toward ensuring they make maximum use of any e-facilities that are available,” Laing said. “I expect that within this fiscal year there will be significant movements towards improving efficiencies in that area.” Reflecting on the ten years the BFSB has worked with the e-government committee, the board’s Executive Director and CEO Wendy Warren said she was ‘very pleased’ with web portal’s launch. The goal was, greater efficiencies starting with government and moving through the private sector, according to Warren, who also pointed to the Registrar General’s Department as the agency the sector would find its greatest benefits from.

“Our first priority with this launch is to look at the systems and services provided by the Registrar General’s Department,” said Warren. “It’s a critical area of business for us and we want to make sure that this platform gives due attention and provides the right level of services for our business community.” Many industry participants have remarked that, even with the online feature, services and turn-around times left much to be desired in the past. However, Guardian Business spoke with two executives from the offshore sector. They are attached to leading offshore financial institutions in the country, and did not wish for their comments to be perceived as their employers’ position. The RGD, in their opinions, has seen a marked improvement over the last one to two years. One of them went so far as to express satisfaction with the current capabilities of the online service itself, saying sometimes, shortcomings may be more a matter of personnel than systems.

One of the executives explained that online payments are facilitated under the system, for example, though the ‘process’ involves establishing a non-interest bearing account with the RGD, which must be ‘topped-up’ periodically to cover incurred expenses. From that executive’s perspective, once accustomed to the system it worked well enough.

When the RGD is incorporated into the new e-government portal, businesses should be able to get around the need to encumber their cash flows by setting up the non-interest bearing accounts and topping them up for services to be delivered in the future. Instead they should be able to pay-as-they-go. “The Registrar General’s Department is one of our first agencies that had online services, but their problem is that you couldn’t make payments online,” Project Manager Roach said. “So that part we will be working with them on, so the different registered agents -- instead of having to pay ahead and then draw down, -- could just pay for their services as they come along.

“So that’s one of those agencies that, as the prime minister said, we will be bringing on one by one, and ‘getting-there’… or maybe even two-by-two,” said Roach.


Developer Written on Tuesday, 02 August 2011 17:54 by Developer

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