Friday, April 22, 2016
Friday, April 22, 2016
The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB)‘s immediate priorities are education, compliance and immigration, according to its CEO Tanya McCartney, who laid out the organisation’s key initiatives yesterday.
Speaking at a seminar hosted by the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), McCartney said the BFSB is working closely with the government to implement the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), required by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and hopes to have a framework in place by 2018.
Similar to the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, the CRS was introduced to allow for disclosure of financial information between jurisdictions.
McCartney says a public private taskforce has been created to discuss a plan for implementing CRS, while ensuring high standards of data protection and privacy. She said complying with regulations such as these allows The Bahamas to dispel its reputation as a tax haven and improve the country’s brand worldwide.
“We need to focus on our brand. We believe that our industry cannot be reactionary. We are operating in a very transparent world and a world that expects cooperation around tax matters. The Bahamas is an established and responsive financial centre.”
Also key to boosting The Bahamas brand is education, according to the BFSB head, who says work is continuing to establish a centre of excellence with the aim of training professionals, undertaking research and promoting the jurisdiction abroad. She emphasised the need for more language skills within the financial sector and pointed to the success of the BFSB’s Rosetta Stone programme, which began in late 2015 and encourages school children to learn a second language.
In addition, McCartney said the BFSB is actively working with government on new immigration policies. She would like to see more options for permanent residency, with the aim of growing and sustaining the sector and said: “Immigration is an enabler to our industry doing well. In the changing landscape more people will want to consider relocating to The Bahamas which will create opportunities for us.”
Currently, investors can acquire permanent residency by purchasing property. McCartney spoke of broadening this to include people who make endowments to education or the environment but cautioned: “Whatever we do has to be measured, controlled and strategic. As we look at immigration the focus is on attracting people who will drive commerce, create opportunities and create jobs for Bahamians.”
The BICA seminar was held at the British Colonial Hilton Nassau. Other speakers on the agenda included BICA vice president Gowon Bowe, who advised the conference on changes to the business licensing system, and Denise Hinds Jordan and Samantha Rolle, who are from the Office of the Prime Minister and gave an address on the National Development Plan.