Financial Sector Must Be Vigilant, PM Harris Says to Banking Sector

Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 13, 2015 (SKNIS): The Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) 42 Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) was deemed as important and should not be underestimated, especially at a time when the industry continues to be under increased scrutiny, said Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy, during the opening ceremony and cocktail reception held at Government House on Wednesday, November 11.

Prime Minister Harris stated that such behaviour comes from “regulatory agencies as they seek to ensure that there is a high level of compliance, not only with relevant legislation, but with credential regulations and international best practices.”

He stated that the financial sector must always be vigilant.

“The industry must stay abreast of the developments that affect the sector, development that often times originate from international standard-setting bodies and other entities in response to some events and that have a tendency to complicate the operations of financial institutions,” said Dr. Harris.

The finance minister reflected on the theme for this year’s event “The Financial Services Industry at Crossroads: Where to from Here?, stating that he is persuaded to believe that recent developments have no doubt influenced the theme.

He made mention of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which seeks to improve international tax compliance through the introduction of a reporting regime for foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to identify and report, to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), information on assets of US$50,000 or more, held by US taxpayers, and for certain non-financial foreign entities (NFFEs) to identify US taxpayers who hold substantial ownership interest.

“In very recent times we have had to deal with the USA’s FATCA and several of our jurisdictions are still in the process of implementing this new requirement to transmit financial information to the USA on an automatic basis and to find significant resources both human and financial,” he said.

Prime Minister Harris, while addressing the robust body of the financial sector, said that “it is time for introspection and for critical examination, evaluation and forward planning.” He stated it is important that the necessary resources and attention be allocated to ensure that proper and up-to-date systems are introduced in the organizations that would facilitate compliance with domestic regulatory requirements, as well as global standards.

“This would go well for the solidification of the partnership between the financial institutions and Governments as we endeavour to ensure that we secure and maintain a strong financial services sector and by extension the stable economies in our various jurisdictions,” he said.

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