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Minister outlines plans for FS industry

Minister of Financial Services Brent Symonette today urged members of the Bahamian financial services industry to work together with government as his ministry moves forward with key initiatives for the sector. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Minister of Financial Services Trade and Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette today urged members of the Bahamian financial services industry to work together with government as his ministry moves forward with key initiatives for the sector.

Delivering the keynote address at the Nassau Conference this morning, the Minister said: “Both in the private and public sector we must focus on repositioning and strengthening The Bahamas. It is not enough to have business as usual.”

“I do not think the government should be dictating policy to you. All of us together should be formulating policy going forward. We have to change the way we transact business in this country.”

Symonette said one of the first priorities was improving the ease of doing business in The Bahamas and added that the government has formed a committee to address this issue.

Another item on the agenda is gearing up for the implementation of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), as mandated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Bahamas is due to implement CRS in late 2018 and has drafted guidance notes which are currently being reviewed by the industry.

Speaking about the increasing pressure of international tax compliance legislation, Symonette said: “It is not a level playing field. There are going to be changes that we have to anticipate. We, as an industry, need to protect ourselves so we know how to react as these issues come up.”

The government is also moving forward with plans to develop both a centre of excellence for financial services and an arbitration centre.

Developing the latter would entail relaxing the requirements of The Bahamas Bar to allow foreign lawyers to practice in the country, the Minister said.

He said such a liberalisation of the sector would be necessary to grow the economy and, in addition, the government is looking to introduce short-term work permits so visiting consultants can more easily enter the country for business meetings.

The Minister pointed to the need to be responsive and engaged in order to build and diversify the economy. “All of us working together will create the future of The Bahamas for Bahamians,” he said.

The one-day Nassau Conference took place today at the Baha Mar Convention Centre on Cable Beach. Organised by the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies, it featured discussions on the global marketplace, the role of government, regulators and industry and global trends in regulation.


The Securities Commission of The Bahamas is holding activities this week in celebration of World Investor Week 2017, which runs 2-8 October.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization elected The Bahamas as president of the Commission for the Americas at the 22nd session General Assembly held in Chengdu, China, in September.

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