Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest said that in respect to regulations and compliance, The Bahamas continues to be a very well regulated jurisdiction and continues to be highly ranked in this regard. In its efforts to keep up with international best practices, the country has signed onto the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and the Framework on Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS), DPM Turnquest said at the International Business Finance Summit presented by the Bahamas Financial Services Board and held at Baha Mar, March 1, 2018. “We have received significant positive feedback from these moves. We look to further leveraging that and expanding our opportunities and attracting additional business to the destination.”
He did note, however, that The Bahamas has to do even better with the ease of doing business and it is a significant focus for the government from both a domestic and international perspective. “We are simplifying the ease of getting into the business and into the jurisdiction; we are making the work permitting process easy and we are making the investment process easy.” The DPM said, “We are keying in on the ease of doing business. We have a committee of independent private sector individuals who are tasked with identifying the bottlenecks in our system and coming up with the required administrative and legislative changes that are necessary to ensure that we are living up to our desire to be the first world in terms of the services that we provide and responsive to our customers going forward.”
He also told business leaders during the summit that the government is “deliberate intent” on utilizing available technology to improve the services the government offers and the efficiency in which it serves its clients. “One of the things we are looking at is blockchain technology and seeing how we can leverage that in the financial services industry, in particular, to make the whole process of onboarding clients easy. “For instance, we are looking at the possibility of setting up a digital record blockchain such that persons can do their Know Your Customers (KYC) documentation in their own countries; get it authenticated digitally and when they come to The Bahamas, it is just a matter of giving somebody a key in which they can log in and receive authenticated verification of all of the KYC and all of the due diligence requirements in seconds. A process that can take six to eight months can be done in 15 minutes.”
DPM Turnquest explained that the government has put together a task force to determine what is needed to make that idea a reality. “We have had discussions with several providers of this kind of technology and we continue to make this a priority so we can get this kind of technology in place in the shortest period of time possible.” “The more efficient and responsive we are, the better our chances in this very competitive global world we are now faced with all of its complexities and challenges. We want to be market leaders; we do not want to be followers.” The DPM said feedback and input from financial services leaders and providers on the potential applications of the technology are necessary so that the government can make adjustments or amendments to make it easier for them to complete their transactions with clients or make their work easier in general.