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Consolidation coming for regulatory bodies

Government’s plans to amalgamate the three regulatory bodies of the financial services industry are on track, with significant progress anticipated next year.

The move aims to bring the Securities Commission, the Insurance Commission and the Bank Supervision Department of The Central Bank of The Bahamas together, to improve efficiencies and offer better service to those institutions who fall under their regulatory authority, according to Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Zhivargo Laing.

“There is probably clear evidence that there may be a need for increased numbers of talent in this area, and improved numbers of talent,”Laing toldGuardian Businessin an exclusive interview yesterday. He confirmed that he expected no redundancies at all as a result ofthe combining of the entities.

The increased staff would not represent massive numbers of people, but would bring staffing numbers up to levels necessary to complete the regulatory tasks, according to Laing, who said those entities may currently be understaffed.

Although there would be no savings from

redundancies, Laing said that such a system would simplify related processes for businesses falling under the regulation of these entities. In cases, for example, where a business’activities fall under the scrutiny of more than one regulator, there would be no need for multiple separate inspections, duplication of report filings, etc.

“All of that is cost and time and effort for you, and it doesn’t ease your doing business. The consolidation seeks to ease doing business and also improve the efficiency of the state itself in regulating these entities, because it too doesn’t have to therefore replicate all these inspections and monitoring and review of reports etcetera,”Laing said.

The government has recently concluded detailed discussions with the Central Bank related to the amalgamation effort. Though he was unable to say how long it will take to complete the process, the minister said that there is a clear way forward following those discussions, and the government was now pursing that course.

“The physical amalgamation has almost already happened to the extent that we now have all those entities operating out of the same complex,”Laing said.”But integrating their systems, etcetera, that will obviously take some time.”Beyond the physical move, the minister said that appropriate legislation will have to be drafted and passed to accommodate the consolidation within the country’s legal framework. He added that there were also administrative issues to address.

“The actual integration takes as long as the organization takes to get its house in order, but in terms of the policy decision and legislative effort we are very well advanced in terms of that, and expect to make significant progress on that next year,”Laing said.

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