Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister of Finance Chester Cooper yesterday called on the prime minister to explain why his recent trip to Brussels did not prevent The Bahamas from being blacklisted by the European Commission.
He also said he was appalled at the consistent moving of the goal post for The Bahamas’ financial services sector by organizations like the European Union (EU).
“The prime minister went off to the [European Union] EU. He must speak to this. He must explain to the Bahamian people why there has been a failure in his negotiations and why we find ourselves on the list today,” Cooper said.
“He went over as a savior to the financial services industry and this [blacklisting] is what we have, so he must explain to the Bahamian people what went wrong and why his intervention failed.”
The Bahamas was blacklisted by the European Commission yesterday due to “strategic deficiencies” in its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing legislation.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis traveled to Brussels in January to meet with high-ranking officials of the European Commission.
He framed the trip as a positive one, but did not provide a detailed explanation of what was discussed.
Describing the blacklisting as a blow to the financial services industry, Cooper emphasized that the industry must be protected in The Bahamas.
“I am gravely concerned always by the moving of the goal post by these international organizations like the EU and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). I am appalled by the consistent moving of the goal post.
“Each time we do something, they raise the bar and ask us to do something else.
“I find this completely unacceptable, but our Bahamas and our industry is working hand in hand to ensure we do all we can to defend against these threats to our livelihood and these threats against our industry and our country.”
He continued, “I support our financial services industry.
“It’s been the source of significant jobs for middle class Bahamians, and therefore we must do all we can to defend our country and defend our financial services business.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish