NASSAU, The Bahamas – Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder applauded the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) and all participating firms, on September 25, 2013, for continuing to work with the current administration — and more specifically his ministry — in being “a voice to the government on expressing both concerns and new opportunities in the industry that cause for the development of new products and joint promotional activities”.
“I want to encourage all member firms to be active in BFSB efforts to advocate and encourage the advancement of the financial services industry,” Minister Pinder said at the BFSB Annual General Meeting, held at the British Colonial Hilton. “I also urge you to encourage other financial services firms and new entrants to the industry to embrace the membership benefits of the Bahamas Financial Services’ Board, to expand the network and expertise available to BFSB’s efforts.”
Minister Pinder said that the BFSB has distinguished itself locally and internationally as an advocate for The Bahamas’ financial services industry, broad-based membership and continual opportunities to grow the industry.
“Through the BFSB, you have been active in formulating guidance for issues such as FATCA implementation and choice of Inter Governmental Agreement, development of new products, such as SMART Fund 007, and the development of new niche industries such as captive insurance which I am confident is on the verge of significant expansion,” he added.
In giving a brief update on the status of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) implementation, Minister Pinder told BFSB members that, as they already knew, The Bahamas government has chosen a Model 1 Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) as the framework on how FATCA will be administered in The Bahamas.
He said the government has reviewed the IGA and have some suggested drafting changes.
“We have been coordinating with countries in the region with the goal to obtain agreement on suggested revisions and to approach the United States on a multilateral basis with respect to our suggestions,” Minister Pinder said.
He noted that the government is issuing a request for proposal that week to request for bids by consultants on advising the government on what is entailed to fully implement FATCA. This would include, he continued, recommendations as to the structure of the competent authority, staffing, technological needs and administrative functions.
“The timelines will be tight and we hope to be in a position early next year to know exactly what needs to be implemented and the cost of doing so,” Minister Pinder said. “We have also been in consultations with the Office of the Attorney General on the preparation of the legislation that will cause for FATCA to be implemented.
“This is an ongoing process.”
While giving a brief mention of value added tax (VAT), the process and the application in the financial services industry, Minister Pinder said that, at the policy level, his ministry has been in discussions with the Ministry of Finance on the application of VAT to the industry.
He said that the financial services industry could be either treated as zero rated or exempt, depending on if it is defined as a financial services firm by legislation or regulation, or if it is an export services firm.
“We at the policy level are discussing the best way to advance this issue,” Minister Pinder pointed out. “Once cabinet has approved the draft legislation and regulations, through the BFSB we will hold consultations with the industry explaining the agreed framework and get your input on how it will effect your business and any recommendations.”
“We hope to do this in the coming month,” he added. “You will have full opportunity to review the draft rules and provide your input and recommendations to government.”
Minister Pinder commended the chief executive officer of BFSB, Aliya Allen, on her advocacy and dedication to the financial services industry of The Bahamas.
“Ms. Allen has worked hand in hand with the government on various initiatives ensuring BFSB’s concerns and ideas are always represented,” Minister Pinder said. “Her focus and dedication is to be applauded.”
To the board of directors, Minister Pinder said that he must applaud them on their high level of commitment and involvement in providing guidance and oversight to the Bahamas Financial Services Board and being a “key body in promoting the importance of a relationship between the government and private sector”.
“With the Bahamas Financial Services Board comprising of lawyers, bankers, fund administrators, trust officers and other specialists, I applaud you on your comprehensive approach in governing BFSB,” Minister Pinder said.
“As you have volunteered your time and service to BFSB and that of the financial services industry, you have demonstrated your love for country and love for the industry as you ensured that there are new opportunities for the industry to grow and develop, in our plans to become the preeminent international financial services centre.”
Minister Pinder said that Ms. Allen and BFSB, in cooperation with the Ministry of Financial Services, have worked tirelessly to raise the profile of The Bahamas financial services industry and promote The Bahamas as the preeminent international financial services industry throughout the region and locally with hosting and attending landfall events.
“It is important as these events are hosted by BFSB and the Ministry of Financial Services Industry that the membership firms support not only monetarily but also in their level of attendance, speaking participation and promotions,” Minister Pinder said.
“In conclusion, I applaud BFSB, its hard working board of directors and all of the member firms that are ensuring that BFSB advocates for the private firms within the industry,” he added. “I encourage all member firms to actively and tangibly participate in all efforts of the government and BFSB to ensure that the industry grows.”