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Bahamas: Banking Industry Shrinks By $200bn

Total bank assets in The Bahamas fell by over $200bn during the six-and-a-half years to end-September 2018, amid rising fears yesterday that the sector’s latest reforms are a “death knell”.

Central Bank of The Bahamas data, unveiled at a December 2018 industry briefing, revealed that combined domestic and “offshore” banking assets declined by 35.2 percent, falling from $657.9bn to $426.2bn, between 2012 and last September.

The regulator attributed the fall largely “to a shift in business model” by many of its licensees, but other figures further fuel the impression of a Bahamian financial services in slow, steady contraction and retreat.

Total industry employment, again covering both the domestic and international bank and trust company sectors, dropped by 13.6 percent over the six years between 2012 and 2017 as financial institutions shed some 650 jobs.

The Central Bank said this amounted to the loss of 113 jobs, or 2.5 percent of the Bahamian financial services industry’s workforce, per annum over that period. The sector, which is primarily responsible for providing the lucrative, professional jobs that underpin this nation’s middle class, saw its workforce fall from near 5,000 to just over 4,000.

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