Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Peter Turnquest said the exercise leading up to the Credit Reporting Bill was thorough and included consultations with relevant stakeholders. “The principles included in the Bill conform to international best practices underlying credit reporting systems,” DPM Turnquest said as he introduced the Credit Reporting Bill in the House of Assembly, Wednesday, January 31, 2018. “As you will see as I go through the provisions of the Bill, care has been taken to ensure that the rights of consumers will be protected through appropriate oversight and an appeals process, which is key to ensuring the integrity of the system.” The Bahamas’ Credit Bureau Project was launched by the Central Bank of The Bahamas in 2010 for the purpose of establishing a national credit reporting system in The Bahamas, inclusive of a credit bureau. The DPM explained that this followed on extensive dialogue with the government, the commercial banks and other private sector stakeholders, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), with assistance from the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC), which carried out an assessment, in February 2010, to determine whether or not The Bahamas’ existing regime could support a fully functioning credit reporting system.
He said the IFC analysis identified weaknesses in the existing business and regulatory infrastructure for credit reporting in the jurisdiction and set out strategies for strengthening the regulatory and business underpinnings required to support a credit bureau, inclusive of the introduction of credit reporting legislation. “The IFC, in consultation with the Central Bank, produced a draft Credit Reporting Bill and Regulations, which have been reviewed by a Legal Working Group established to review the proposed legislative framework for the credit reporting system. “The Legal Working Group comprised representatives from institutions that provide credit, such as banks, credit unions, insurance companies, money lenders and utilities. The Bill and Regulations were also reviewed by the Data Protection Commissioner and the Attorney General’s Office prior to being issued for public consultation in September 2014.”
DPM Turnquest said since then, the Bill and Regulations have been further revised based on internal reviews by the Central Bank and is now finally being debated for acceptance in the House of Assembly. He explained that credit bureaus collect information from lenders and other sources on a borrowers’ credit and bill paying history, validates the information and then provide the information to participating lenders by way of a credit report. Creditors then utilize these reports to determine whether or not to grant loans or extend credit, and at what interest rate. Typical clients or subscribers of credit bureaus include banks, mortgage lenders, credit card companies, and other financing companies.