Bahamas Enhances Business Environment
Friday, March 5, 2010
In his mid-year budget presentation to Parliament, Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham addressed
improving the business environment, touching specifically on the streamlining
of the regulation of the financial services sector.
Addressing parliament, Ingraham said: "The government is moving to streamline
the regulation of non-bank financial services. Specifically, we intend to merge
the Securities Commission, the Office of the Registrar of Insurance Companies
and the Compliance Commission to create a new Financial Services Authority.
The goal is to reduce burdens on the regulated financial sector by simplifying
authorization requirements and data reporting requirements. As well, efficiency
gains will be achieved by ensuring joint operations in terms of on-site inspections,
authorizations, information technology and human resources."
The new Authority
will be fully operational during the course of 2010, Ingraham disclosed.
On “Enhancing the Competitiveness of Financial Services,” the Prime
Minister noted progress made towards the removal from the OECD grey-list of
territories that had not yet substantially implemented the internationally agreed
standard on tax information exchange, of which the Bahamas was deemed to be
one. Following last April's G20 summit, where the list was drafted, territories that
were placed on the grey have been given until March 31, 2010 to substantially
implement the international standards in tax information exchange, by signing
twelve bilateral agreements with third countries to increase tax transparency.
"On April 2, 2009, the Bahamas had one agreement executed with the US.
We have moved aggressively to meet the requirement. At present, there are 11
signed agreements and, by the end of March, we will have executed 19 agreements
to ensure our exit from the grey list," Ingraham said.
Parliamentarians were also advised of planned changes to the Investment Funds Act to
remove restrictions that impact negatively on Bahamian investment managers and
advisors and the competitiveness of the Bahamas as a financial centre.
Additionally, Ingraham added that the government is "taking a number
of steps to strengthen the Bahamian business environment." Specifically, proposed
amendments to the Business Licence Act will soon be introduced to simplify the
legal and regulatory requirements to operate a business. "We also propose to
simplify the fee structure for business licences," he explained.