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PORTS INTERNATIONAL SUPPORTS SPECIAL OLYMPICS BAHAMAS.
As the Bahamas branch of Special Olympics begins its annual fundraising drive with the intent of financing the Bahamasí athletes in international competitions, corporate partner Ports International joined in their efforts with a presentation of a monetary donation to assist in providing sports and training activities for the intellectually challenged children and adults in our community. Through its sports programs, Special Olympics Bahamas strive to provide long-term benefits to individuals' health, self-esteem and social integration.
The new value-added tax (VAT) legislation tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday would tax electricity bills, other utilities, food and private healthcare.
Past incarnations of the legislation exempted many Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) customers, but Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said that the government decided not to exempt electricity bills and suggested customers could see an increase in their light bills.
VAT will be introduced on January 1, 2015 at a rate of 7.5 percent.
"That does not mean that the price goes up or that if it does, it goes up by the 7.5 percent, because they would have an opportunity to get credits for their inputs," he said in an interview outside the House of Assembly yesterday.
"As a matter of fact, our experts tell us that being exempt is actually a disadvantage for a lot of services, because they don't have the opportunity to get credit back for the VAT that they pay.
"We don't expect it to go up by the amount of the VAT.
"As it stands now, it might increase a bit or it might stay the same."
Halkitis said the government
is "finally taking up the challenge and shouldering the responsibility, of bringing our system of taxation up to the proper and appropriate standards of the 21st century".
The government had previously proposed to exempt a variety of breadbasket items.
However, it now has reduced the duty on over 20 categories of food items (from 10 percent to five percent) including meat, poultry, milk, cream, yogurt, cheese, curd, vegetables, fruits, nuts, coffee, tea, spices, pasta, jams, fruit juice, yeast and seasonings.
The Tariff Amendment Bill also listed duty reductions on over 100 items, including cameras (seven percent to duty free), watches (10 percent to duty free), refrigerators (25 percent to five percent), various types of apparel (25 percent to 20, and 35 percent to 20), footwear (25 percent to 20 percent), pharmaceutical goods (35 percent to 25 percent), beauty and make up products (45 percent to 35 percent) and more.
Among the list of items that will be taxed are services provided by persons living outside of The Bahamas relating to telecommunications services and electronic commerce that will be for the use, enjoyment, benefit or advantage of persons within The Bahamas. This will include services like web-hosting; distance teaching; political, cultural, artistic, sporting and entertainment broadcasts; image, text and information databases and the updating of software.
The new bill has also reduced the timeline for the payment of VAT refunds "allowing businesses that file monthly returns to request refunds within two months of the period in which the net credits arise".
The bill also increased the time for a business to file a VAT return from 21 to 28 days.
A major revision in the latest bill is the reduction in the number of exemptions.
As previously reported, Halkitis said New Zealand VAT experts advised the government to have as few exemptions as possible.
According to the bill, no goods will be exempted and the list of exempted services was shorted to 14 items.
Most financial services, the sale or rental of a dwelling, the transfer of vacant land, the lease of land and any service by a government entity in connection with a taxable activity will be exempt under the bill.
Education services, specifically tuition funded courses, services rendered by a day care business, public heath care services, religious services by an institution of religious worship and services by a recognized charity relating to charity function are also exempt.
Games of chance, insurance services and services provided directly by a facility to people in need of care are also exempt.
The direct service to a person living outside The Bahamas, who is not a taxable person, regarding the handling of any foreign going aircraft while in The Bahamas is exempt.
People involved in the operation or management of any foreign going aircraft or vessel are also exempt.
Zero rated supplies and services in the bill include legal, engineering, consultancy, accountancy and insurance services.
The bill also calls for the establishment of the Value-Added Tax Department that will be responsible for the administration and enforcement of VAT.
The bill empowers a VAT comptroller to ensure the effective and efficient collection of VAT as well as to prepare a national framework for the levy and collection of VAT, among other things.
It also allows the comptroller to seize "VAT-able" goods where VAT has not or will not be paid. The comptroller may also seize any car used in the removal of any "VAT-able" item that has not yet been cleared by the department.
Prior to joining Ports International Limited, Michele Rassin was the Vice President of Operations at Doctors Hospital for ten years where she played a vital role in implementing strategic initiatives for the company. Ms. Rassin has a long history of leadership and experience bringing over 15 years of extensive knowledge in healthcare management and a high level of business acumen.