Business

VAT registration checklist published

October 17, 2014

The Value-Added Tax (VAT) Task Force has finalized its VAT registration checklist for local businesses in an effort to address concerns over the registration process and provide necessary clarity as businesses begin the registration process.
Jasmine Davis, VAT Task Force co-chair and immediate past president of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), told Guardian Business yesterday that the checklist was an added precaution to increase local understanding and "connect the dots" to ensure a smooth registration process.
"We're seeking to connect the dots between all of these points of revenue for the government. Although the registration requirements are spelled out in the government's VAT registration booklet, we thought that we should prepare a checklist so that people could have all of the items ready to go," said Davis.
Online VAT registration became available on October 13. All businesses with annual taxable sales exceeding $100,000 will be required to register for VAT by November 30.
Although initial reports from the Ministry of Finance indicated that only 20 of the country's 4,500 VAT-eligible businesses had registered for the tax as of Wednesday, Task Force members have since claimed that figures have increased.
Davis noted that the checklist paid particular attention to several common misconceptions surrounding registration requirements, such as business license control numbers and the exact address of businesses' operations.
"The distinction was needed for business addresses. Registration requires not where businesses are legally registered, such as attorneys' offices, but where it is that your business is physically operating.
"That was one of the concerns, and another was that we need your business license control number and not just your business license number," said Davis. She added that the task force took into consideration information received from the government during the registration vetting process, and would continue to address challenges faced by local businesses as it continues its educational outreach programs.

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New gaming laws might drive web shop owners to Malta, Belize

October 17, 2014

Former Bahamas Bar Association President Wayne Munroe has warned that so-called discrepancies in provisions for online gaming in the current Gaming Bill and Regulations were a "major impediment" to the web shop industry, and could drive Bahamian web shop owners to other jurisdictions.
Munroe, who represents a group of web shops owners, told Guardian Business that the current regulations could cause Bahamian web shop owners to register for online gaming licenses in foreign jurisdictions, including Malta and Belize.
"The reality is (that) a Bahamian web shop owner can do something very simple; get a gaming license in any other country with interactive gaming, and market yourself to the world in those jurisdiction.
"The only difference is that the Bahamian public gets no benefit from your activity and the revenue generated. Those jurisdictions will benefit and that's the only sad part," stated Munroe, noting that casinos were subjected to a noticeably lower tax rate than web shops.
Under the 2014 Gaming Bill and Regulations, web shops will be taxed 11 percent of taxable revenue, while casinos are taxed 5 percent.
Munroe added that the recent regulations heavily favored the casino sector by prohibiting web shops from participating in new gaming markets, specifically through proxy gaming, which employs stand-ins to place bets.
"That's one of the major impediments that is currently in the way of web shops," said Munroe.
Market research firm H2 Gambling Capital reported that online gambling gross winning topped $32.7 billion in 2013, and were expected to reach $39 billion in 2015.
"What they've added substantially is the online and interactive gaming component, and the provisions for [casinos] are broader than for web shops. In that regard casinos get a better interactive gaming product than the web shops," he said.
Despite these complaints, Munroe acknowledged that the current regulations went further than any previous legislation, stating: "[The gaming bill] did not go as far as we would like it to, but the government did something, more than anyone else has done to date."

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Energy sector stalled

October 17, 2014

Two years after the government promised a renewable energy act and the amendment of the 1956 Electricity Act, it appears the only significant change to the Bahamas energy framework is a tax concession to The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) and the release of a National Energy Policy, which allows for a small amount of solar power self generation and plots a forward path for energy reform over the next 20 years.
The only amendment to the 1956 Act since 2012 was concluded last year, and removed the excise tax on fuel imported for electricity generation by BEC "or by any other entity approved by the minister and published in the gazette."
And while the new energy policy allows renewable energy self generation (RESG) of a limited amount of solar power, some critics say it does not go nearly far enough. One outspoken critic went so far as to say the government's policy would "kill solar" in The Bahamas.
Nonetheless, the policy does represent forward momentum on energy reform.

Sector Profile
The Bahamas has nearly complete electrification. About 99 percent of the country has electricity, provided by 16 isolated island grids. That power is supplied by BEC, which services 93,000 customers via 29 generating plants with an installed generating capacity of 438 megawatts (MW), and the Grand Bahama Power Company, which services 19,000 customers on Grand Bahama operates one diesel plant, two gas turbines and one steam plant. Its installed capacity in 2014 is 98.5 MW.
The jurisdiction is almost 100% dependent on imported oil, and international and local oil companies supply the fuels and lubricants derived from fossil fuels used in the electricity and transport sectors. In 2009, heavy oil was used to generate 44% of electricity and automotive diesel oil used to generate the remaining 56% of electricity produced by BEC.
It is worth noting that in the policy document's profile of the energy sector it is noted that The Bahamas experienced 12.3% 'system losses' in 2008. Waste of fossil fuels, via leaks and lack of inventory controls, are a particular concern.
The energy sector is governed by the Electricity Act, which established BEC, the Out Island Electricity Act and the Out Island Utilities Act. For the electricity sector, a significant constraint in the use of renewable energy sources is the fact that the 1956 Act does not allow independent power producers (IPPs) to sell to the national grid.
The policy also notes entrepreneurial opportunities for supplying electricity to the Family Islands, if it is demonstrated to be "in the nation's best interest," and points out that the Hawksbill Creek Act also provides for an electricity franchise holder in select areas, including areas controlled by the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
After electricity, transportation is the second largest user of energy in the country. There are gaps in data and information on energy usage in the transport sector, but the policy notes that the transport sector is characterized by the use of larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles. Vehicular gasoline consumed locally increased from $63.291 million in 2002 to $201.147 million in 2008 - a three-fold increase. Similar changes occurred with jet fuel and aviation gasoline.

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Religious tourism 'huge' potential

October 17, 2014

Director for Religious Tourism Dwight Armbrister said yesterday that the growing field offered "huge" revenue opportunities for The Bahamas.
Speaking with Guardian Business, Armbrister said that the Ministry of Tourism would focus on marketing The Bahamas as a destination for religious events, particularly conferences with capacities between 3,000-4,000.
"Globally, 9.8 percent of the traveling public travels for religious events. We're going after a portion of that. If we can get a minute percentage of that number coming to The Bahamas, we wouldn't have sufficient rooms to accommodate them. It would be huge for The Bahamas," said Armbrister.
Although The Bahamas lacks the established religious festivals of many regional tourism competitors, Armbrister argued that The Bahamas' close proximity to the U.S. acted as a strong incentive for U.S. religious organizations.
"Our proximity to the U.S. counts for quite a bit of our attractiveness for religious tourism. So our focus then is to focus in on specific markets, particularly the African-American and Hispanic markets within certain states within the United States," said Armbrister.
Armbrister could not provide any figures for government investment in the initiative, suggesting only that the program was still in its infancy and would continue to "aggressively" lay the groundwork for religious conventions in the country to complement the Ministry of Tourism's similar attempts to diversify its tourism product.
"We have all of these different vertical tourism markets - religious tourism, sports, weddings and honeymoons - people travel to The Bahamas for that kind of focused attention.
"That's what keeps us on the cutting edge against our competitors. They may not be doing it the way we do, but we're going to do it to the best of our ability to ensure that [tourists] come here as opposed to choosing any other Caribbean country," said Armbrister.
Armbrister added that Impact, BET, and Tempo networks would be in the country next week for the FAMFEST gospel music festival, providing increased international exposure, after a host of media events with Christian media outlets.
"For the past 10 days, The Bahamas was at the center of the discussion on the Impact Network whose viewing audience is some 30-plus million.
"Two nights ago, TBN did their Praise the Lord program on the island of Grand Bahama for two hours highlighting the beauty, culture and the different sights of the island. When you talk about the viewership numbers you are looking at hundreds of millions around the world," said Armbrister.
Armbrister added that the religious tourism department had already held talks with several international large church groups including the National Baptist Convention USA, The Rainbow Push Coalition, affiliated with Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the SDA Conference.

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Social media: the new marketing frontier

October 17, 2014

As Bahamian businesses struggle to market themselves and their products in the so-called Information Age and tens of thousands of Bahamians embrace social media, the new media frontier has assumed a greater economic significance, but is still not widely understood in the commercial sector.
As for the utility of this information, consider that as of December 2013, 73 percent of Bahamians - more than 235,000 people - were Internet users, according to Internet World Stats. And of that number, more than half are Facebook subscribers.
Madeline Berges, vice president of E-commerce and Digital Marketing for Interval International, talked about the importance of a strong social media marketing strategy in the context of the tourism industry. Still, her comments are equally applicable to any dynamic business environment.
"A strong social media marketing strategy is a critical component for success in today's competitive business environment because of the vast audiences these platforms capture," Berges said. "In fact, a 2013 Pew Research study indicates that 73 percent of adults who go online use social networking sites."
Some of the top social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. The sheer variety brings home the point: this is not a one-size-fits-all business. Berges points out that the different audiences for the sites suggest distinctive styles of engagement and diverse methods of communicating.
"A solid social media marketing strategy must assess each communication platform individually and determine how it can best be used as a tool to increase revenue, procure leads and promote brand awareness," Berges said.
"To reach the right audience, you must first select the platform where they are most likely to be. And then you must understand how to engage those audiences," she added. "By incorporating a social media strategy that takes these matters into account, businesses and brands can build their presence, generate brand awareness and touch more customers with content that will be read - and reposted again and again."
Facebook, for example, is the world's most popular social sharing site. There are more than 1.5 billion users, and it is most popular among women, young adults 18-29, urban dwellers, college educated with incomes of $50,000 or less. While the US has the most Facebook users, more than 86 percent of Facebook users live outside the US.
In The Bahamas, there were 235,797 Internet users as of December 31, 2013. Of that number, 167,920 were Facebook subscribers, according to Internet World Stats.

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Tourism pumping billions into regional GDP

October 17, 2014

By 2024, tourism will contribute more than $200 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), according to Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Ipsos Travel Dave Pierzchala.
He said that in 2008, tourism contributed $100 billion to LAC GDP; in 2014, the number is $142 billion, and the expectation is that by 2024, it will be $200 billion-plus.
Pierzchala spoke at the 2014 Shared Ownership Investment Conference, and focused his remarks on the international leisure market, particularly the Caribbean & Latin America.
He noted that so far for 2014, the Caribbean has seen an average growth rate of 5.2 percent in tourist arrivals. The region remains the number one cruise destination, largely dominated by U.S and Canada passengers.
While Grenada has the highest increase in tourist arrivals, Pierzchala pointed out that the Dominican Republic and Cuba account for 48 percent of the entire arrivals of tourists. Jamaica maintains a slow growth rate, although huge Spanish investments have been made in the hotel industry.
Survey Results
Pierzchala shared some interesting survey results, notably on what motivates people from different regions to travel. North Americans travel, Ipsos' survey shows, to strengthen relations with close ones. Latin Americans travel to meet new people, while Africans travel to feel special and pampered. Europeans travel to brag about enviable experiences: Middle Easterners, to go away to experience local life; Asians to fall for exhilarating experiences, and Australasians (Australia, Pacific Islanders etc.), to seek out memorable moments.
He also drew results from a joint survey conducted by Ipsos and TripAdvisor, which found, for example, that travelers are nine times more likely to crave unique experiences than just a relaxing and pampering vacation.
More interesting tidbits from the Ipsos/TripAdvisor study: 38 percent of global travelers expand their diets from their travels, and so-called "millennials" and retirees align on seven out of eight travel motivations. The one difference - millennials crave excitement.

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GBPA VAT session successful

October 17, 2014

Nearly 100 concerned people from the island's business sector turned out for advice and practical assistance on the new consumer tax, VAT, at day one of a four-day initiative hosted by the Grand Bahama Port Authority GBPA).
GBPA Vice Chairman Sarah St. George praised the event and noted its significance as it relates to the entity's licencees. "Every one of us will be impacted by VAT in some form or other. All of this is vital because VAT applied to us here in Freeport will be a bit different to its application elsewhere in The Bahamas. While Freeport should see more exemptions and zero rating, that does not necessarily mean an easier transition," she said. "So it's very important that we take the time to follow the consumer tax theory and actual mathematics of VAT. I think that by the end of the week, everyone will have a basic grasp of numbers and software programs as well as formulated new practical questions. I certainly have".
Keith Worrell, VAT Implementation Unit representative served as one of the event's key presenters, in which he pointed out what he hopes to achieve within the session. "The purpose of this exercise today is to try to give licensees a clearer understanding about the way in which VAT would impact their business, as well as the role that we expect them to play in the VAT regime," he said.
VAT training sessions will continue daily to the end of the week, beginning at 9:30 a.m. each day.

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Cayman Airways named a top eight airline in the world
Cayman Airways named a top eight airline in the world

October 16, 2014

An incredible distinction for Caymanís national airline, respected travel critic Richard Bangs has just issued his choice of top eight airlines worldwide, and Cayman Airways is on the list...

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GB stem cell facility performs first procedure

October 16, 2014

The first procedure at the Okyanos Heart Institute happened yesterday, inaugurating a new chapter in stem cell therapy in The Bahamas.
Mathew Feshbach, CEO of the institute, told Guardian Business that the Grand Bahama-based cardiac stem cell therapy facility performed its first procedure yesterday, but did not provide specifics regarding the nature of the procedure.
The announcement comes after more than two years of delays while the government reviewed Okyanos' proposal and crafted the recently passed Stem Cell Therapy Bill and Regulations, which will oversee Okyanos and any future stem cell therapy facilities. Okyanos was founded in 2011.
Okyanos raised $8.9 million in March, which according to sources, brought the company's funding to $14 million. In an article posted in Venture Capital Post (VCP) in July, Okyanos explained that it would treat heart patients using "autologous adipose derived regenerative cells (ADRCs) in The Bahamas". Adipose, or fat, is the richest source of regenerative cells in the body; "autologous" simply means that the cells are derived from the same patient undergoing the cell therapy treatment. Okyanos is offering cell therapies based upon the technology of San Diego-based Cytori Therapeutics. The VCP article's author, Ray Xeri, points out that the same technology is being used in Cytori's Phase II clinical trials for heart disease but is otherwise unavailable to patients in the U.S., if and until FDA approval is achieved.
"Thus, the opportunity to serve patients with few other options in the nearby Bahamas became an opportunity for Okyanos and its backers," Xeri said in July.
The multimillion-dollar facility currently employs 17 people and is seeking additional staff as it ramps up operations. Okyanos aims to treat coronary artery disease through cardiac stem cell therapy.
The government tabled the Stem Cell Therapy Bill and Regulations in August, prompting Okyanos to praise the government on "providing a legislative and regulatory jurisdiction so that this very promising standard of care can be brought forward".
The regulations would allow embryonic stem cell therapy only in "exceptional circumstances", stipulating that all embryonic stem cells intended for therapy must be previously derived, and prohibiting the use of all new human embryonic cells.
Under the proposed regulations, three regulatory bodies will be formed to regulate stem cell therapy in the country: the National Stem Cell Ethics Committee, Scientific Committee and Compliance Committee.
Initial application fees for stem cell research stood at $2,500 in the tabled regulations. Approved facilities would be required to pay annual license fees ranging from $15,000 to $50,000.
Okyanos' progress is an encouraging sign for the country's prospects in the burgeoning medical tourism industry, despite The Bahamas' failure to rank on the 2014 Medical Tourism Index.
The international metric, which published its most recent report in September, ranks countries' medical tourism sectors according to country environment, facilities, services and general health of the local medical tourism industry.

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Lack of credit bureau hampering lending accuracy

October 16, 2014

Many in the financial services community are welcoming the advent of a credit bureau, particularly given the Central Bank of The Bahamas' (CBB) statement that lenders at present are not able to accurately assess the credit worthiness of potential clients due to a lack of comprehensive information on their outstanding debt obligations.
The inability to judge creditworthiness accurately has led, in a great many cases, to consumers taking on too much debt, given their income and level of assets. This has, in turn, led to foreclosures and repossessions if customers are unable to service their debts.
This is borne out by the CBB's Financial Stability Report December, 2013, which records that total private sector loan arrears rose by $101.7 million to $1.3 trillion, the second consecutive expansion in arrears. The bank notes, in particular, that non-performing loans grew by 11.4 percent to just under $1 trillion. The report also notes a 30 percent surge in commercial arrears, year over year.
In the credit bureau consultation document, the bank points out that greater claims on capital tends to reduce lending activity.
"The inability to accurately judge creditworthiness also means that financial institutions have been adversely affected if a significant number of clients are unable to meet their debt obligations. More risky loans impact banking sector stability; high levels of bad debt, higher provisions and write-offs," the bank says. "Problems in the banking sector present challenges for overall economic growth and financial stability."
The report notes that between 2009 and 2013, restructured loans totaled $778.8 million; write-offs were $462.7 million, and provisions
totaled $442.7 million.

How it works
Credit bureaus collect personal, financial and demographic information on individuals and small firms and provide this information to participating lenders by way of a credit report. Creditors then utilize these reports to determine whether or not to grant loans or extend credit, and at what interest rate. Typical clients or subscribers to credit bureaus include banks, mortgage lenders, credit card companies and other financing companies.
Some of the typical users of a credit bureau include banks, credit unions, the judiciary, tax authorities, insurers and landlords. The information these entities would use will have been supplied by banks and insurers, credit unions, credit card issuers, retailers, utilities and public registers.
Once a credit bureau is in place, research in other jurisdictions shows that borrowers are incentivized to improve credit and payment behavior. The CBB says the borrower benefits from faster credit decisions, protection against problems of over-indebtedness and lower collateral requirements and lower interest rates.
Lenders, on the other hand, look forward to increased access to accurate and comprehensive information about borrowers' credit histories and payment habits, enabling better assessment of true creditworthiness. This would streamline the credit decision-making process, lower exposure to risky loans could reduce operational costs, improve capital adequacy and reduce provisioning requirements.

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Tourism demands transparency, fiscal responsibility

October 16, 2014

Fiscal responsibility and government transparency remain the greatest concerns to regional tourism, according to the president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).
CHTA President Emil Lee told Guardian Business that government transparency and accountability are vital to promoting tourism throughout the region.
"There is probably no area of government that benefits more from fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability than tourism. The simple reason is that tourism in our region involves every member of the community, and the more the members of that community are intimately aware of tourism initiatives, the more they can assist in the delivery of the country's tourism objectives.
"If we expect to have all hands on deck in advancing tourism, all hands need to know all of the details. So advancing these principles of good governance is not simply a nice thing to do. In the case of tourism, it is also an important and valuable imperative to ensure an alignment of goals," said Lee.
Lee said that the CHTA continues to work alongside the Caribbean Tourism Organization and with individual governments throughout the region to further promote transparency, warning that seeking "short-term political gains" continues to interfere with the best interests of Caribbean economies.
"Many times, metrics for decision making are not always about what is best for the economy, and too many decisions are motivated by short-term political gains. The best way for tourism to prosper is when citizens see how their tax dollars are being efficiently and effectively invested to develop a happy and stable community.
"The connections between tourism, economic growth, social benefits and community wellness must be transparent for all to see," said Lee.
Although Lee acknowledged that the region still faces issues of transparency, he noted that The Bahamas has largely succeeded in promoting government transparency and accountability, citing the Bahamian government's recent efforts in promoting public-private partnerships (PPPs).
"Those partnerships require considerable fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability in order to have worked so well for so many decades. To a lesser, though still important, degree, the initiatives involved in airlift development and the easing of visa requirements are other example of The Bahamas' efforts in this area," he said.
The government last month issued a request for expressions of interest regarding a host of infrastructural PPPs, business relationships between private sector companies and the government for the development of projects that serve the public, such as roads and airports, throughout the country worth over $175 million.
Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle told Guardian Business earlier this week that PPPs offer the most effective mechanism for meeting the infrastructural needs of the country due to the government's lack of resources.
Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation Chairman Robert Myers last week urged the government to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international organization of countries designed to promote transparency and accountability in governments.
Myers argued that joining the OGP would send a clear message to potential investors that The Bahamas is taking steps to modernize its government and increase the ease of doing business, while keeping up with regional competitors.

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Slow VAT registration 'not unexpected', reflects 'lingering uncertainty'

October 16, 2014

CEO of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Edison Sumner said yesterday that he expects value-added tax (VAT) registration numbers for local businesses to "expand significantly", despite sluggish initial figures.
Sumner, who also serves as the co-chair of the recently established VAT Education Task Force, stated that he "didn't expect a rush" on the first day of registration eligibility for businesses after Financial Secretary John Rolle revealed earlier this week that the Ministry of Finance had received less than 40 VAT registration applications from not even two dozen companies following the launch of the online registration service.
Approximately 4,500 businesses must register for VAT before November 30. Applications for mandatory registration apply to businesses with annual turnovers exceeding $100,000.
Sumner attributed the low figures to lingering uncertainty from members of the business community over the tax's implications.
"A lot of companies are still going through the process of understanding what VAT is about and its implications. But we expect [the number of registrants] to expand significantly over the next several weeks."
"The chamber has already held two or three registration workshops and registered a few companies through the process. We didn't expect a run on registration on day one," said Sumner.
The ministry additionally received 21 applications for customs transitional warehousing arrangements, which cater to large inventory retailers, including food stores, clothing stores and building supply stores. The government expected to process several more applications before the recently passed October 15 deadline.
The Ministry of Finance continues to conduct workshops with the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), BCCEC and the VAT Education Task Force, which will focus on increasing public education and awareness regarding the tax beyond the January 1, 2015 implementation date.
Sumner noted that the BCCEC would begin expanding its registration workshops to the Family Islands starting today in Abaco, where roughly 200 businesses are scheduled to attend.
"As we move about the country, we should see an increase in registration, particularly once we get the task force in motion to assist the government in continuing with registration workshops and preregistration workshops," said Sumner.
The group effort is currently conducting workshops on New Providence on a sustained basis for the next several months, with upwards of three workshops a day capable of assisting 60 to 80 businesses a day with the registration process.

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BTC MPLS Enterprise Push and IP TV

October 16, 2014

CEO Leon Williams announces target dates...

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BTC's Winning Personalities
BTC's Winning Personalities

October 16, 2014

BTCís Winning Personalities: BTC recently honored some very special BTC employees who had received the votes of their associates nationwide in nominations for most consistent hard work with a positive attitude during the first quarter of the year...

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Armani Stuart Tours Scotiabank
Armani Stuart Tours Scotiabank

October 15, 2014

Winner of a Scotiabank sponsored scholarship from The Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation, Amani Stuart, recently toured the bankís main branch and corporate offices on Bay Street...

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CITI and Junior Achievement Support Bahamian Women
CITI and Junior Achievement Support Bahamian Women

October 15, 2014

The new Junior Achievement Inspire Her programme is for the empowerment and business development of Bahamian women between the ages of 15 and 30 years...

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More power outages - due to 'generation challenges'

October 15, 2014

POWER outages in pockets of New Providence yesterday were due to ongoing "generation challenges", Bahamas Electricity Corporation spokeswoman Arnette Ingraham said...

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Growing concern on VAT for homeowners, condos associations

October 15, 2014

President of the Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) Carla Sweeting said yesterday she was "concerned" by the government's decision to apply value-added tax (VAT) to condo and homeowners associations (HOAs), which will be mandatory for associations with annual billings exceeding the registration threshold of $100,000.
Speaking with Guardian Business, Sweeting said she was "not surprised" by yesterday's announcement, noting that the issue had been raised during a meeting between BREA and the Ministry of Finance last week.
"We have several questions and concerns that have come out of that meeting that we will be addressing in short order," Sweeting said.
In a press release issued yesterday, the Ministry of Finance defends the decision, arguing that allowing HOAs to issue VAT invoices to VAT registrants who use such properties as vacation rentals offers an advantage to registration.
"Many associations will see little difference between the adjustment in maintenance fees billed and the change in VAT inclusive expenses charged to them by service providers," the statement says.
"In these cases, the collection of VAT from homeowners will match very closely the input credits that associations would be able to claim. There is no upside revenue potential for the government."
However, some members of the real estate community have likened compounding the new HOA fees with other VAT-eligible services for housing communities to double taxation.
As noted, the announcement follows a meeting between BREA and the Ministry of Finance that left members of the real estate community with lingering questions regarding VAT's impact on the real estate sector.
Matt Sweeting, local realtor and chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation's (BCCEC) Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Committee, told Guardian Business last week that members of the real estate sector were still "in the dark" following a seminar hosted by the BCCEC and Ministry of Finance earlier this week.
Yesterday's press release clarified that business license fees will not be imposed on homeowner associations. However, residential real estate held as assets for investment or commercial purposes may be subject to business license fees and VAT when used as vacation rentals.
Sweeting said BREA would seek further clarification immediately.
VAT registration for businesses began on October 13. Applications for mandatory registration, which applies to business and HOAs with annual turnover exceeding $100,000, must be filed by November 30, 2014.

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