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News Article
'Top' banking institution pursues Bahamas presence
'Top' banking institution pursues Bahamas presence

Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder said he is confident that The Bahamas will see an increase in Latin America-based business within the next year after a recent meeting with a top banking institution.

While he would not confirm the name of the banking institution, Pinder told Guardian Business that Friday morning's meeting with executives represents a "huge opportunity" for the country's financial services sector, as his ministry continues to market The Bahamas to the Latin American market...

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News Article
'VAT on BEC would be unfair'

Executive Chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Leslie Miller said it would be "unfair" to levy value-added tax (VAT) on electricity bills.
Miller said many BEC consumers are already "overburdened" with the cost of power, and questioned if a tax should be applied to this bill.
"To me, that's a double edged sword," he said.
"You're taxing me twice, as an individual then as a user of electricity and that's something that the Ministry of Finance has got to decide on."
He added: "Personally I don't think it's fair, but that's not my decision. The decision is whether the government can accrue sufficient revenue to enable it to cover expenses by bringing in VAT."
Miller said the impact of VAT on BEC bills would depend on the rate the government sets and the minimum consumption threshold that would determine who is exempt.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said recently the government has yet to decide whether electricity will be taxed.
Davis, who has ministerial responsibility for BEC, said a final decision on whether to place VAT on BEC bills will be made based on public opinion on the issue.
"No decision or discussion -- not at our level -- has taken place yet on that issue, save to say it has been put in the public domain," Davis told The Nassau Guardian.
The government has proposed to apply a 15 percent VAT to a broad range of goods and services come July 1.
In the VAT bill released in November, the tax on electricity would kick in for residential consumers once they consume over a certain amount of power a month.
Ishmael Lightbourne, VAT consultant to the government, has said the amount "in consideration" was 200 kilowatt-hours per month.
The proposed legislation and regulations left the space blank where the exact amount that would constitute this threshold would have appeared.
The justification for the tax on electricity is that the government stands to lose about $30 million in annual revenue if electricity bills are not subject to VAT.
Recently, Financial Secretary John Rolle said the Ministry of Finance was considering a higher threshold, which would allow more consumers to benefit from a VAT exemption on their bill.

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News Article
'Victim of own success'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

The Bahamas has become "a victim of its own success" in financial services, a senior attorney warned yesterday, having become "somewhat complacent" - a factor that caused successive governments to invest less than they should have done in the industry's continuing development.

Brian Moree QC, senior partner at McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes, in an exclusive interview told Tribune Business that the Bahamas "simply must do a better job" of responding to changing client needs and trends in a dynamic financial services market, especially given that it was facing ever-increasing competition.

While acknowledging that governmen ...

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News Article
'We gat bad ways and we bad pay'

Dear Editor,

The government this;
the government that;
the government looking bad on VAT;
but consider this: The government's full faith and credit remains intact.
The Bahamas government has never defaulted on any of its financial obligations to local or international agencies and institutions: Not to the Inter-American Development Bank; the World Bank; the International Monetary Fund; the United Nations, or CARICOM. No Bahamian government has compromised the full faith and credit of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. I dare anybody to show otherwise. On that score, the government of The Bahamas has not failed its people.
The government floated $200 million in bonds back in 2003 and just recently the government floated another $300 million of public debt on the international market and both times the securities were oversubscribed. This is tangible evidence of the level of confidence international investors have in the full faith and credit of The Bahamas. I know for a fact that on the 2003 issue, investors were paid their premiums of $7 million in May and November of each year; the government has not defaulted on those payments to this day.
I will go further: Prime Minister Perry G. Christie has said publicly on numerous occasions that upon coming to office in May 2002, he was faced with a $125 million bill that the government had to pay - and it did. Ten years later upon his return to office, as an encore the prime minister claimed that his government was faced with a $550 million obligation to various creditors that his government had to make good on - and his government did.
But can the Bahamian people say the same regarding our tax obligations to our government?
It was recently reported in the media that Bahamians owe the government over $550 million in real property taxes ($557 million to be exact). The government offered them an amnesty period laden with incentives, but collected only $20 million of the $550 million bill. Of that $550 million tax bill, commercial properties accounted for some $341 million. I sincerely hope that nobody associated with the Coalition for Responsible Taxation is in that delinquent grouping. They cannot be in arrears if they and their anti-VAT campaign are to have any credibility with the public.
Further, arguably one of the greatest collective acts of tax fraud against the government takes place in the customs clearance facility at LPIA where literally thousands of Bahamians routinely under-report the value of taxable goods and services purchased abroad, mostly in South Florida. Bahamians do this with impunity, without remorse and are cavalier about this irresponsible, harmful and unethical practice. The narrative on NIB payment compliance is eerily similar. Too many Bahamians do not believe that they should be held accountable and they have no intention of abandoning this practice.
These are precisely the practices that helped to get us into this fiscal quandary today, yet Bahamians bark and balk at the idea of VAT as a viable instrument of tax reform. This is beyond irony or hypocrisy; this is madness.
This is akin to stabbing somebody then blaming them for bleeding. This is akin to the patients at Sandilands lecturing the doctors and nurses on how to run the facility and on how to administer the medication protocol.
Bahamian thespian Ronnie Butler said it best when he sang: "I know them long time - them people is mine" and "we gat bad ways and we bad pay".
When it comes to paying taxes too many Bahamians have bad ways and are bad pay.
But in the end, the government of The Bahamas must do what it has to do because at the end of the day and despite the deafening din of dissent, the government must protect the full faith and credit of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas because only the government will be held accountable.
- Elcott Coleby

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News Article
'White paper' on tax reform delayed in Cabinet

The proposed "white paper" focusing on finding an alternative tax system for The Bahamas has not yet reached Cabinet, Guardian Business can reveal.
"I am settling the basis of the paper to bring to my colleagues in Cabinet. The core of that has been finished, so I am hoping that in the not too distant future, I will be able to present it for consideration to my colleagues," Prime Minister Perry Christie shared with reporters following a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
Christie's comments come after he recently confirmed that he had the "white paper in hand", and was ready to move forward with the recommendations.
Last month, the prime minister spoke on the subject during the 2012/2013 Fiscal Position Symposium held at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and Casino. It was there that he admitted that some areas of revenue generation may have reached their peak.
"The position is that I told the country that The Bahamas is one of the few countries that doesn't have some form of value added tax (VAT), and that when we look at the revenue of our country we realize that we are running out of sources for additional revenue," Christie said. "We are to the maximum now I think from what we can get from the customs duties."
The prime minister said that his current position will enable his government to make progress on taxation, and he wants everybody to be on the same wavelength on the subject.
Christie said the "white paper" has been designed for open public discussion, as it represents a paradigm shift in how the government administers and collects the country's taxes.
"After Cabinet, the 'white paper' will go to the House of Assembly and then the country for discussion. It represents a paradigm shift in how we administer and collect the taxes of our country," he explained.
Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder also believes there needs to be a fundamental shift and some type of alternative system has to be implemented.
"It has become increasingly apparent over the past few years that government revenues are not keeping pace with expenditures," Pinder said. "I am advised that the introduction of an alternative tax regime with broad coverage could likely compensate for revenue losses stemming from tariff reductions and create necessary government revenues. It would, if properly implemented, also serve to level out some of the 'peaks and valleys' in duties that currently exist and make goods generally more affordable to Bahamian consumers."

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News Article
(Photo) Bahamas Minister of Financial Services meets World Trade Organization Director

SWITZERLAND - Minister of Financial Services, Hon. Ryan Pinder, is pictured with World Trade Organisation Director-General

 

Pascal
Lamy during the Bahamas WTO 2nd Working Group Session held in Geneva,
Switzerland in June 2012.

Minister Pinder, along with

The
Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) has completed a busy eight day
schedule of events and meetings with private banks, independent asset
managers, lawyers, accountants and family offices in Switzerland and the
United Kingdom...

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News Article
(Photos) Eight Cabinet Ministers of the new Progressive Liberal Party Government Sworn In

Nassau, Bahamas  - Eight
Cabinet Ministers of the new Progressive Liberal Party Government took
the Oath of Office in the presence of Governor General Sir Arthur
Foulkes, May 10th, 2012 at Government House. The new ministers are: Hon.
Bernard Nottage, Minister of National Security and Government Leader in
the House of Assembly; Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, Minister of Tourism;
Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education Science and Technology;
Hon. Ryan Pinder, Minister of Financial Services; Senator Hon. Allyson

 

Maynard Gibson, Attorney General and

 

Minister

 

of Legal Affairs;

 

Hon. Damian Gomez,

 

Minister of State in the Ministry of Legal Affairs;

 

Hon.
Michael Halkitis, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance; Senator
Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of State in the Ministry of National
Security...

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News Article
(Photos) Eight Cabinet Ministers of the new Progressive Liberal Party Government Sworn In

Nassau, Bahamas  - Eight
Cabinet Ministers of the new Progressive Liberal Party Government took
the Oath of Office in the presence of Governor General Sir Arthur
Foulkes, May 10th, 2012 at Government House. The new ministers are: Hon.
Bernard Nottage, Minister of National Security and Government Leader in
the House of Assembly; Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, Minister of Tourism;
Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education Science and Technology;
Hon. Ryan Pinder, Minister of Financial Services; Senator Hon. Allyson

 

Maynard Gibson, Attorney General and

 

Minister

 

of Legal Affairs;

 

Hon. Damian Gomez,

 

Minister of State in the Ministry of Legal Affairs;

 

Hon.
Michael Halkitis, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance; Senator
Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of State in the Ministry of National
Security...

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News Article
(VIDEO) Communication on National Investment Policy Investment Promotional Materials - Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham

Nassau, Bahamas - Enclosed is a Communication to Parliament by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham. Also attached is the Bahamas Investment Authority's brochure -

The Bahamas: A Paradise for Many Reasons.

I am pleased to
table for the information of Honourable Members a copy of the new Bahamas
Promotional Brochure "The Bahamas: A Paradise for Many Reasons" together with
sector information flyers on the tourism and hotel sector, international
financial services and Freeport, Grand Bahama

...

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News Article
1 bil. 'eco village' proposed for Andros

A UK-based property developer is spearheading a push to turn 600 acres of South Andros into an "ecological premier international village resort", featuring four hotels, at least 1,750 residential units, a marina village and a golf course, estimated to be valued at $1 billion at full build out and to add $900 million to the Bahamian economy.
Stephen House, president of South Andros International Company Limited (SAICL), said that he believes the project could play a role in "balancing" the economic development of The Bahamas by establishing a major resort on the large and underdeveloped island.
"There's two miles of palm fringed beach, it's 10 minutes from the airport, there's a port of entry and a lot of natural terrain around to make sure this project can start to sell a part of The Bahamas that hasn't yet been sold," said House in an interview with Guardian Business.
At 2,300 square miles, Andros is the largest island in The Bahamas and the fifth largest in the Caribbean. For now, it contains just a handful of small lodges and inns, along with the Tiamo and Kamalame Cay resorts.
After holding off during the global financial crisis, House and his international team feel that the time is right to launch the 10- to 15-year phased project, targeted for the north-east coast of South Andros, between Driggs Hill and Congo Town.
The government is presently considering a proposal, master plan and draft heads of agreement that House and his team have put before it. House said he is confident about the prospects for receiving conditional approvals.
"It's been a lot of work, a lot of planning in getting the concept together. I've given it a three- or four-year wide berth because of the international investment market. I'm ready to go now, we are ready to try to conclude issues," said House.
SAICL owns outright the 600 acres in South Andros, and has for over twenty years, providing House with the freedom from financier-related pressure to hold off until the ideal time.
In addition to "two major international hotels" and two "boutique" hotels of around 40 to 50 rooms each, and residential units ranging from standalone beach front luxury villas to townhouses and condos, some of the proposal's more unique features include plans to utilize renewable power generation in the form of a solar field; to integrate the latest materials and most advanced technology into the project; to highlight the many blue holes and to capitalize on the resort's proximity to the world's third-largest great barrier reef, located just a few hundred yards from the proposed resort's beach.
"The architect has designed the project around highlighting the prominence of the blue holes. We're trying to package The Bahamas in with the project, to sell us and sell The Bahamas," said House.
A golf course is also being proposed for the project, which House describes as "exciting in the way it's been conceived, as it runs through the project, creating greenery and interest throughout".
The master plan has been prepared by a Madrid-based architectural firm with extensive resort, hotel and hospitality credentials. It is headed by Carlos Langdon-Ruiz, who leads a team of international and Bahamian professionals, said House, including Gleeds, an international management and construction consultancy; European Golf Design, owned by the European Tour and IMG; Sunco Builders & Developers, Islands By Design; and others.
The team has been assembled by SAICL to conceive and deliver the project to "the highest standards", with the intention of creating a community that can "function autonomously while paying special regard to maintaining and enhancing the integrity of the environment," said House.
"The ecology of the site and immediate vicinity will be treated with sensitivity to maximize awareness of the location and setting, further guaranteeing the long-term protection of the immediate environs and enhancing the prominence, quality and desirability of the project, enhanced by the architect's low rise - 'nothing higher than a palm tree' - vision," he added.
Meanwhile, the developer said he has high hopes that the resort can help to stimulate more local economic activity, particularly in the area of agriculture, with this having positive spillover effects for The Bahamas at large.
"We would like to be very geared towards self sufficiency in agriculture and other products/services. We want to be able to get local people to provide us with those things.
"We really want to bring businesses forward to service us and the country in general, and the land is there to allow some of these things to develop very nicely," he said.
House said he has some "serious funding in the wings" into which he is proposing to tap.
"I can consider one or two options to use - one route has not been done yet - which are quite exciting and will bring another party into the Caribbean arena who is not active yet," he said.
House has estimated that an annual average of 500 construction jobs will be created over the phased program, culminating in 1,000 plus jobs in operations/management on completion.
The developer plans to visit Nassau again in February to further advance the proposal.

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