Categorized | National News

CB Governor Undermined, Says Roberts

Former Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts is taking the Minnis Administration to task over incoming changes to exchange control liberalization.

Mr. Roberts is accusing Prime Minister Doctor Hubert Minnis of undermining the independence of the Governor of The Central Bank of the Bahamas.

In a statement to the media, Mr. Roberts said “as Bahamians everywhere look to 51st anniversary of Majority Rule Day,they have compelling reasons to expect public policy to facilitate the expansion on the franchises inherently guaranteed to them under the constitution.”

He added Bahamians fully expect greater personal, social and economic freedoms, lower barriers to trade and expanded opportunities to own a larger percentage of the Bahamian economy.

“I was heartened however to read in late December where the Central Bank of The Bahamas revealed that more proposals are underway to facilitate further exchange control liberalization.

“The Central Bank pointed out in its statement that the relaxed foreign currency financing access for SME’s owned or controlled by Bahamians took effect in April of this year. In announcing this policy from the floor of the House, then Prime Minister Perry Christie fully recognized that given the dynamics of globalization, part and parcel of the economic empowerment process for Bahamians necessarily involved the ease of access to capital and capital markets for capital investment via non-developmental foreign financial institutions coupled with the affordable transfer of capital into The Bahamas. This investment policy lowers the barrier to trade and facilitates the ease of doing business.

“I am troubled however by the manner in which the political head of the government is handling this policy. During a recent press conference held by Prime Minister Minnis, he pronounced extensively on the ongoing liberalized foreign exchange policy. I caution the Prime Minister that the Central Bank is the regulator of all local financial institutions and is therefore an independent institution under Bahamian law. The Central Bank must always seem to be and seen as operating independently. Prime Minister in his over exuberance to take credit for another PLP initiative, clearly undermined the Governor of the Central Bank. This is wrong and Dr. Minnis must learn to respect institutional norms and conventions. He should allow the Central Bank Governor to take the lead and do his job.

“The PLP in principle supports greater access to capital for Bahamian-owned businesses and recognize that the gradual and deliberative engagement between the Central Bank and the private sector on this important matter was going on for quite some time. Some may argue that the process moved along too slowly, but the Bahamas government is generally conservative in its approach to monetary, fiscal and economic matters, given our population size and the country’s open, vulnerable and highly integrated economy. Within the context of Majority Rule, this policy initiative is one of the solemn promises of this transformational and nationalistic grass roots movement and a promise whose time has come.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced last month the relaxation of exchange controls on capital and current trade account transactions allowing Bahamian owned businesses to maintain operating deposit accounts up to $100,000 in foreign currency at domestic commercial banks.
These changes are expected to come into effect as of February 1 next year, the prime minister said during a press conference at his West Bay Street office.

Dr. Minnis further announced the buying and selling rates for the investment currency market (ICM) will be reduced from 12.5 per cent and 10 per cent respectively to five and two and a half per cent.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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