Western Hemisphere > Bahamas, The

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Mr. John Kiff, Jihad Alwazir, Sonja Davidovic, Aquiles Farias, Mr. Ashraf Khan, Mr. Tanai Khiaonarong, Majid Malaika, Mr. Hunter K Monroe, Nobu Sugimoto, Hervé Tourpe, and Peter Zhou
This paper examines key considerations around central bank digital currency (CBDC) for use by the general public, based on a comprehensive review of recent research, central bank experiments, and ongoing discussions among stakeholders. It looks at the reasons why central banks are exploring retail CBDC issuance, policy and design considerations; legal, governance and regulatory perspectives; plus cybersecurity and other risk considerations. This paper makes a contribution to the CBDC literature by suggesting a structured framework to organize discussions on whether or not to issue CBDC, with an operational focus and a project management perspective.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper highlights The Bahamas’ Request for Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic comes on the heels of the widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian in September 2019. Coupled with domestic containment measures, the collapse in tourism will cause a deep recession. The Bahamian authorities have taken timely and targeted measures to boost health spending and mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, supporting jobs and vulnerable segments of the population. The disbursement under the RFI will help boost resources for essential COVID-19-related outlays, strengthen reserves, and catalyze additional support from other international financial institutions, development partners, and the private sector. In order to address the urgent fiscal needs, the central bank will on-lend the disbursement to the Ministry of Finance. The IMF staff is confident that the authorities will pursue appropriate policies for alleviating the impact of the pandemic, based on the country’s strong track record. The Bahamas is assessed to have sustainable debt and adequate capacity to repay the IMF.
Mr. Serhan Cevik
The widespread availability of internet search data is a new source of high-frequency information that can potentially improve the precision of macroeconomic forecasting, especially in areas with data constraints. This paper investigates whether travel-related online search queries enhance accuracy in the forecasting of tourist arrivals to The Bahamas from the U.S. The results indicate that the forecast model incorporating internet search data provides additional information about tourist flows over a univariate approach using the traditional autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model and multivariate models with macroeconomic indicators. The Google Trends-augmented model improves predictability of tourist arrivals by about 30 percent compared to the benchmark ARIMA model and more than 20 percent compared to the model extended only with income and relative prices.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Macrofinancial risks stem from the economy’s vulnerability to external shocks to tourism and real estate investment, exposure to frequent and severe hurricanes, and a small and illiquid real estate market. Stress tests reveal the overall banking system is resilient to a range of adverse scenarios given large aggregate capital and liquidity buffers. Some domestic banks and the two largest credit unions are more vulnerable to asset quality shocks and tail risk conditions. Asset quality and profitability are key determinants of financial institutions’ resilience to adverse shocks. Liquidity, market, sovereign and financial contagion risks are low. The offshore banking sector is not a source of traditional banking risks.
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.
Growth has returned after years of stagnation. The reform-oriented government is tackling structural issues, with notable achievements in the fiscal area. The financial sector is sound and resilient to current stability threats, but credit remains scarce. The offshore sector faces heightened international scrutiny and the government is taking steps to strengthen compliance with AML/CFT and tax transparency standards. Tourism and related foreign investments will support growth in the near-term, while low competitiveness and diversification dampen medium-term prospects. Growth would suffer from a slowdown in the U.S. or higher oil prices, and hurricane vulnerability persists. Reform momentum could stall, undermining fiscal consolidation efforts.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The CBOB considers increased financial inclusion as a critical reform area. In this regard, the FSAP assessed developments in financial inclusion for individuals and enterprises (SME finance), retail payments and provides recommendations for improvements. A review of the market was undertaken using the Payment Aspects of Financial Inclusion (PAFI) framework covering areas such as the legal/regulatory framework and oversight, retail payment systems and instruments, access to transaction accounts and use cases, as well as SME policy, credit infrastructure, economic empowerment funds and consumer protection and financial literacy.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
Over the last decade, Aruba has faced three recessions resulting in a public debt of approximately 90 percent of GDP. Its current budget deficit needs to be reduced and Aruba should close a fiscal gap of 1.5-2 percent of GDP over the next two to three years to return to a sustainable path. Earlier this year, the authorities have introduced a crisis package, mainly by increasing the turnover taxes. This temporary tax measure should be replaced by a tax reform that will modernize and simplify the current system. The new tax system should not only raise more revenue, but also shift the tax burden away from income and profits toward consumption. The current system is not well equipped to make these changes. In replacing the crisis levy, the Government sees an opportunity to streamline the current tax system, modernize it, and make it more sustainable for the future needs of Aruba.