The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) and The Association of International Banks and Trust Companies (AIBT), along with industry stakeholders, today held a consultative session with The Official Opposition to review draft legislation for the implementation of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

The Leader of The Opposition and his colleagues were updated on why The Bahamas is moving expeditiously to implement CRS before the end of 2016. They were also updated on the CRS implementation plan and reviewed the provisions of the draft Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Bill, 2016. The forum was held in collaboration with representatives from The Ministry of Financial Services and The Office of the Attorney General who co-facilitated the session. A similar Briefing was hosted for the Government earlier.

Industry representatives outlined to The Opposition that The Bahamas had committed to a 2018 deadline for implementation by way of a bilateral approach after industry consultation. Further, the importance of The Bahamas implementing The Common Reporting Standard as evidence of this jurisdiction being a responsible and compliant international financial centre was emphasized. It was noted that the draft CRS legislation is the culmination of active public and private sector collaboration enabled by a CRS Task Force comprised of government and industry representatives under the leadership of The Ministry of Financial Services.

At the end of the CRS briefing, industry representatives updated the Opposition on the current state of the financial services sector and discussed some of the key policy considerations as the sector seeks to reposition itself for long term growth and sustainability. Dr. Minnis indicated his commitment to financial services and acknowledged its importance to the overall economy. Tanya McCartney, CEO & Executive Director of BFSB welcomed the opportunity to meet with The Official Opposition, stating *”Financial services is a critical plank in The Bahamian economy. Hence, there has to be consensus and bipartisanship on those matters that impact the sector.”* She further noted, *”financial services contributes 15 -20% of our gross domestic product and employs a considerable amount of Bahamian professionals”.*

It is expected that the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Bill will be tabled in parliament when it meets next on December 7th, 2016.