The Bahamian economy began a tepid recovery in 2010, following a sharp recession in 2008 and 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis. Real GDP grew by about 1 percent. The rebound was driven by the trade, hospitality, transport, and government services sectors. Executive Directors welcomed the gradual recovery of the Bahamian economy. They also called for steadfast implementation of reforms to place public debt on a sustainable path, build fiscal buffers, and enhance medium-term growth prospects.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The Bahamas appears to be resilient to current threats to its financial stability, but action is needed to safeguard against potential weaknesses. There is a large stock of problem assets that needs to be dealt with from a variety of perspectives: systemic risk monitoring, banking supervision, and crisis management. Vulnerabilities to natural disasters and external economic contagion heighten this need.
The banking sector dominates the financial system and has focused on residential mortgages and consumer loans during a long period of economic stagnation. Despite poor growth the sector has remained profitable. However, the small domestic residential property market backing most secured lending is prone to shocks and illiquidity. This has historically led to high and persistent levels of nonperforming loans (NPLs), which significantly increase uncertainty and fragility in the banking system.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This article is an overview of the structure of the Bahamian financial system. After the financial crisis in the United States, the Bahamian financial structure showed fragile growth. Tourism, the main source of income for the domestic economy, weakened owing to the U.S. crisis. The increase in oil prices was the key reason for the destroyed infrastructure. However, amidst the vulnerabilities, the banking sector showed stability with high capital and liquidity and sustained challenges; the insurance sector also showed significant improvement. The current financial framework needs to be strengthened, and the mission recommends several reforms to handle financial shocks.
This paper focuses on tax reforms for increased buoyancy in The Bahamas. The Bahamas has a low tax effort owing to limited tax handles and underutilization of available ones. Real property tax collections as percent of GDP have doubled within a decade. In addition to the real property taxes, a graduated stamp duty on the conveyance of immovable property is imposed at fairly steep rates. As a requirement to World Trade Organization membership, the tariff rates will be lowered from their current levels. It is expected that revenue losses from tariff reduction will be compensated by value-added tax revenues.