PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper said a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government would encourage the Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) to grant at least three commercial bank licenses to Bahamians or groups of Bahamians.
Cooper made the remarks during the PLP’s economic summit Tuesday evening and explained that his party hopes to bring more Bahamian ownership to the commercial banking sector.
The move would also be used as an impetus to stimulate the country’s economy.
“We are committed to Bahamianizing the sector with a view to empowerment,” said Cooper. “We are also committed to finding solutions for the unbanked Family Islands.”
The majority of the large commercial banks in The Bahamas have their roots in Canada, and many have pulled out of the Family Islands in the past two years, contending that it did not make business sense to have branches in certain communities.
There have been calls for Bahamian-owned banks to fill the spaces in those communities but that is yet to happen in a meaningful way.
However, the CBOB created the world’s first digital fiat currency, the Sand Dollar, in an effort to spur financial inclusion, especially on the Family Islands.
Cooper said the PLP would look to the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) for guidance to kick-start much-needed reforms.
The NDP, developed five years ago, calls on the country to increase the number of banks in the country by five percent by 2025 and ten percent by 2030.
“All sectors of this country need a long-term plan, to kick-start growth and prosperity,” Cooper said.
“No more flying by the seat of our pants.
“We’re going to leave behind this era of failing to plan and then reacting to crisis. We have many more ideas in our Blueprint for Change.”