By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
EQUITY investments in international financial institutions and investment companies are among the most common areas where Bahamians have invested abroad, the Central Bank's Governor said yesterday.
John Rolle, giving a presentation at a half-day Central Bank seminar on exchange control relaxation, said: "The area where Bahamians have made investments most commonly abroad is in owning equity in international banks and trust companies or international investment companies. Those aren't the only areas where persons can elect to make investments abroad."
Mr Rolle said the Central Bank handles around 24,000 correspondences a year for various approvals. "It used to be more than that. We're trying to reduce it even more so we can focus more on areas that matter for investments," he added.
The Central Bank governor said the regulator was committed to liberalising the exchange control regime gradually, adding that stability and sustainability were common themes at yesterday's seminar.
"Sustainability means that the sectors that get the capital have to carry their weight, and earn the revenue and the currencies that they are capitalised in so they can repay those loans," Mr Rolle said.
"That's basically what the commercial banks are required to do on a daily basis in a very liberal setting, and they are required to do it for good business sense and regulatory reasons. Those aspects of the equation should not vary in the case of the Bahamas."
The Central Bank recently introduced a further relaxation of exchange control arrangements that took effect on February 1.
Those arrangements cover both current account transactions and certain capital controls on private sector investment and financial flows.
Bahamian-owned businesses are now allowed to maintain operating deposit accounts, with up to $100,000 in foreign currency, at domestic commercial banks.
The buying and selling rates for the investment currency market have been reduced from 12.5 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, to 5 per cent and 2.5 per cent. Residents are now able to fund investments at a lower rate of $1.05 Bahamian dollars to $1 dollar US, and to repatriate investment currency proceeds to the Bahamas at a rate of $1.025 to $1 US.