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Monday 20 November 2017
Local

Financial sector threatened by outdated legislation

New Vice-President of the Bankers Association of TT (BATT), Karen D'arbasie, presents a gift to outgoing BATT President, Anya Schnoor, at a function on November 1, 2017 during BATT's 20th anniversary celebration at Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain. PHOTO COURTESY BATT

The future growth of TT’s financial sector is being threatened by outdated legislative and banking systems, warns Anya Schnoor, immediate past president of the Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT).

“While the banking sector continues to demonstrate considerable growth, there are a number of legislative and policy issues that threaten to offset the progress of the banking and broader financial sector if left unaddressed.

“We must adopt important measures to upgrade our financial sector legislation in line with international best practices. There is a widely prevailing view among the private sector that some of our legislative and banking systems have simply not kept pace with the changing global landscape.” The Electronic Transactions Act is one of the pieces of legislation which Schnoor said BATT hoped would be proclaimed in 2018.

“When this happens, it will pave the way for a broad range of digital business services, banking or otherwise. In like fashion, it will also lay the foundation for the cheque imaging and truncation system which our banks are eager to introduce to the public in the not too distant future.” Schnoor was delivering her farewell address at BATT’s 20th anniversary function at Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, on November 1.

She said although TT has implemented the Tax Information Exchange Agreements (USA) Act, it only deals with our US obligations.

“We need to pass further legislation and create the supporting structure to support our obligations under the wider Common Reporting Standards framework. This is crucial to enhancing TT’s international tax compliance and our financial system’s transparency.”

Reiterating previous BATT warnings about non-compliance, Schnoor said local businesses would face greater scrutiny and higher costs of doing business with overseas counterparts while de-risking by correspondent banks could spread to TT “with serious adverse consequences.”

“TT should now seize this unique opportunity of critical economic decision-making and reform to make some long-overdue changes to its regulatory and compliance framework.” BATT’s Vice-President and MD of Republic Bank Limited, Nigel Baptiste, was elected Schnoor’s successor while the new VP is First Citizens Group CEO, Karen D’arbasie.

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