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Halkitis: No credit bureau under current administration

Legislation completed and ready to go, but will not be tabled until after general election
XIAN SMITH
Guardian Business Reporter
xian@nasguard.com

Published: Apr 20, 2017

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The long-awaited legislation to establish The Bahamas’ first credit bureau will not be tabled until after the general election, possibly by a new administration.

Speaking with Guardian Business yesterday, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis assured, however, that the legislation is completed and ready to go.

The Christie administration was expected to table the legislation in Parliament earlier this year. In February 2015, former Governor of the Central Bank Wendy Craigg said she expected the legislation to be passed by September of that year.

With non-performing loans (NPLs) totaling $731.3 million as of January 2017, the case for an established credit bureau continues to strengthen.

The project is expected to kick off by the end of this year and credit reports should start to be issued.

Halkitis admitted, however, that the government ran into a “few other delays” that did not allow for the legislation to be tabled. One of those delays was allegedly due to a setback with one of the international consultants on the project.

“What we know is that the legislation is complete and unfortunately this is one of those things we were working on for a number of years, undergoing consultation and revisions of the draft,” said Halkitis.

“Unfortunately we got to the point where we didn’t have an opportunity to put it on the table of the House.

“The consultation process is complete, so it is left to a subsequent administration to table it.

“But the fact that it took so long to complete is because we wanted to do a thorough consultation with stakeholders.”

Industry stakeholders continue to be cognizant of the impact that the absence of a credit bureau has on The Bahamas’ mortgage crisis.

Managing Director of RBC FINCO Franchon Braynen said in the bank’s 2016 annual report: “Our mortgage lending business in The Bahamas continues to be challenged by deteriorating economic conditions, strong competitive pressures, the impact of Hurricane Matthew, a higher level of household indebtedness, the absence of a credit bureau and potential uncertainty associated with the proposed Homeowners Protection Bill.”

Other industry officials such as current Governor of the Central Bank John Rolle noted that the infrastructure for establishing a credit bureau is expected to cost “a few millions”.

“It’s going to pay for itself because they will charge people to use the information,” said Rolle.

He added that the most costly part would probably be operating and maintaining it.



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Last Updated on Thursday, 20 April 2017 03:52
 

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