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Parliamentarians debate bills to shore up financial services sector

Seeking to further shore up the financial services sector, parliamentarians yesterday debated bills which would make law the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and due diligence procedures in financial account information for tax matters.

Although The Bahamas has been committed to CRS and the exchange of tax information in order to remain compliant with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) standards as an offshore financial center, the passage of the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (AEOI) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Multinational Entities Financial Reporting (Amendment) Bill, 2019 should further address the concerns of international watchdogs.

“Both of these bills are amendments to existing legislation which make up the regulatory framework as it pertains to tax transparency, exchange of information and cooperation for tax purposes and combating cross-border tax evasion. The Bahamas is making great progress in this area and shall continue to pay attention not only to shifting goal posts, but to recommendations made by international organizations such as the OECD and others,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.

“You must bear in mind that our legislation will always come under scrutiny and assessment via international organizations, and in circumstances where The Bahamas is required or recommended to amend its laws which provides enhanced regulatory framework for the country’s financial services industry. I am of the view that we should and we must do so.”

In December 2017 The Bahamas signed on to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, making it the 116th jurisdiction to join the convention.

The Bahamas also signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA), and joined the inclusive framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).

“At present the current legislation is aligned with the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) requirement but not in compliance with the Common Reporting Standard,” Turnquest said specifically about the AEOI amendments.

“The Bahamas is now in its second year of reporting under the CRS and the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Act, and we are under an obligation to ensure that The Bahamas’ legislation is consistent with CRS and secondly, that The Bahamas’ reporting financial institutions are in full compliance with the common reporting standards.”

Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas.
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News
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