By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas could lose a number of bank and trust companies with just "a hint of blacklisting", a Cabinet Minister warned yesterday, adding that the Government wanted "the best possible deal" for the sector.
Brent Symonette, minister of financial services, trade and industry and Immigration, confirmed that he and and Deputy Prime Minister, K Peter Turnquest, will fly to San Marino next week to sign on to several parts of the OECD's Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
"We want to put the best front forward for the Bahamas so we can negotiate for the second pillar of our country the best deal possible," said Mr Symonette, addressing Parliament after the tabling of three Bills that will enable the Bahamas to adopt the multilateral approach for automatic tax information exchange.
Rather than lagging behind, Mr Symonette said the Government wants the Bahamas to lead and show it is "fully transparent, cooperative and wiling to do what is necessary to become a very transparent and useful tax jurisdiction. We surpass a lot of the Caribbean in terms of transparency and compliance".
The Minister said the Government is now aiming to grow the financial services industry in 2018 "by bringing in more business like headquartering. In fact, we have had a number of applications come forward with regards to new businesses that are headquartering. We have had a number of applications in the last couple of weeks".
Mr Symonette said the Government was also looking to address issues affecting local bank account holders. "A lot of the problems that small account holders have in the Bahama, issues such as opening a bank account, will be alleviated and made easier," he added.