Although Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis offered bipartisan support on a compendium of bills that will establish new regulations to govern the financial services sector, opposition senators abstained from voting on some of the bills, and voted against one of them, in the Senate on Monday.
Davis said yesterday the move was made with his consent.
“If you followed the proceedings you would have known that I recommended certain amendments or suggestions …and even asked that some of the bills remain in committee,” Davis said at Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) headquarters.
“We were told that most of those concerns will be addressed in the Senate because they wanted to get through; and they would deal with it by way of what they call the slip rule, requiring it not to come back to the House.
“I didn’t think that that was possible, but I said we will see what happens. On that assurance, we gave our support.
“Some movements were suggested in the Senate. I monitored what was going on and the movements did not meet all of the concerns that we had in respect of the bills.”
Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday that the opposition had the amendment that eventually passed that morning.
“We indicated there would be some amendments,” Bethel said.
“The final form of the amendments was settled that morning. It was shared with them in advance.
“The PLP wanted to create fear over the tax evasion bill. I tried to make it clear that the Penal Code (Amendment) [Bill] was aimed at the financial sector, not customs at the airport.
“It removes any legitimate suggestion of tax haven status.”
The bills include the Register of Beneficial Ownership Bill, the Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) Bill, the Removal of Preferential Exemptions Bill, the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill and the Non-Profit Organisations Bill.
The bills will bring the country in line with rules set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU), which have threatened to blacklist The Bahamas.
They were passed in the House of Assembly last Wednesday. The bills received unanimous support from both parties.
When the Senate met on Monday, Bethel announced that passage of the Non-Profit Organisations Bill will be delayed to allow for consultation with civil society.
Opposition senators abstained from voting on three of the bills: the Removal of Preferential Exemptions Bill, Register of Beneficial Ownership Bill and the Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) Bill.
The PLP senators voted against the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill.
“The PLP says a line in the sand must be drawn,” a statement from the party said.