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News Article

August 25, 2014
FS outlines VAT education steps

The government has revealed some of the first details of its value-added tax (VAT) educational programs, which aim to provide both local businesses and consumers with "expansion and clarification" of the government's VAT policies as the tax's introduction date approaches.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Financial Secretary John Rolle confirmed that the government will electronically circulate a host of industry-specific VAT guidelines for business owners and brochures for consumers on the government website later this week.
"We have developed very detailed guidelines for the various sectors, which we will put out this week. This is the second round of interaction with the business community to provide expansion and clarification...which will supplement the general VAT guide," stated Rolle.
While Rolle remained confident that the government's programs would adequately prepare the country for VAT, he acknowledged that time constraints posed a serious threat with only four months until the tax is introduced.
"It's very timely because we're getting many inquiries...We want everyone to be comfortable and sufficiently knowledgeable about VAT before January," said Rolle.
VAT will be implemented on January 1, 2015 at a rate of 7.5 percent.
Rolle added that the government would work closely with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation's (BCCEC) Chamber Institute and the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) to further prepare businesses.
"Coordination with this education campaign is needed for the business community. The operations side of VAT is an area where we will be providing a very structured program.
"From the consumer side, we will be releasing more brochures outlining how VAT is to affect them. These will focus on the consumer empowerment aspect of the framework in terms of what the consumers need to look out for, what to expect and who will be legally allowed to charge them VAT," claimed Rolle.
While BCCEC CEO Edison Sumner was unavailable to provide specific details of the Chamber Institute's program, he noted last week that the Chamber Institute had submitted its educational proposal to the government, which Rolle confirmed yesterday.
"It's still in the proposal form. We will work with them to make sure that the content of the seminars is fully aligned with the VAT guidelines. We want to be present and assist if possible but it's their initiative," said Rolle, adding that the government would assist with chamber and private sponsor workshops leading up to January.
Transition phase
Rolle also confirmed that the government was working closely with the Customs Department in establishing a "transition" phase for imports leading up to January 1 that would allow businesses to earn some VAT credit for goods with pending duty rate decreases.
"During the two months before January, VAT registered businesses can track their inventory, and for any items that they acquire in those two months that are not sold (and subject to duty rate decreases), there will be a procedure where they can claim some credit against their VAT for those items," stated Rolle.
Among the list of items subject to duty drops effective January 1 are various building supplies, articles of clothing, food supplies and household appliances.
Rolle additionally responded to concerns raised last week over the logistical difficulties of implementing VAT in the Family Islands, claiming that the government would soon hold VAT orientation programs for Family Island administrators.
"It's very important for us to get into the Family Islands. We will hold orientation in New Providence within the next two weeks, maybe as early as this weekend, and begin to equip [administrators] as leaders in their communities to answer basic VAT questions. Working with them is integral in how we organize our outreach."

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News Article

September 01, 2011
PM signs exigency order for hurricane relief

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham yesterday signed an exigency order that will allow residents, businesses and hotel owners in Cat Island and Acklins who have been hard hit by Hurricane Irene to bring in certain goods duty free for up to six months.
Residents on Long Cay, Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Inagua and Ragged Island will also benefit from the order.
However, their duty exemption period will be 90 days, the government announced yesterday.
The tax exemption effort, which begins today, will likely impact hundreds of residents and businesses on those islands.
In order for the residents to qualify for the exemption, the minister of finance has to be satisfied that the goods are intended for the relief of residents in the islands mentioned who suffered hardship or loss as a result of Hurricane Irene, the statement said.
Duty free goods include building materials, electrical fixtures and materials, plumbing fixtures and materials, household furniture, and furnishing and appliances.
Also duty free are motor vehicles, motor cycles, and golf carts.
Claims or applications for the duty exemption of those products and goods must be certified by the director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Those in the farming industry whose crops or machinery were damaged can apply to bring in duty free items including supplies for reconstruction and repair to greenhouses, including plant sleeves, timers, plant pots and soil-less growth; supplies for the reconstruction and repair to poultry houses; supplies for the reconstruction and repair of irrigation systems; nursery stock for the re-establishment of fruit orchards; and items required for fencing.
Those in the fishing industry can apply to bring in goods including galvanized sheeting and other materials used in the construction of fishing habitats; fishing boats and fishing gear and apparatus.
The notice added that an individual located anywhere in The Bahamas who suffered hardship or loss to property as a result of Hurricane Irene may also apply for duty relief and will be certified by the appropriate official.
"Where any abuse or misuse of goods imported under this declaration is observed, the goods may be seized and disposed of in accordance with Section 83 of the Customs Management Act," the notice added. 

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News Article

February 05, 2014
Businesses upping pressure against VAT

With the implementation of value-added tax (VAT) just five months away, more businesses are joining the anti-VAT campaign and are petitioning their customers to do the same.
One business owner referred to VAT as "crazy", while another said the implementation of VAT could push poor people "over the edge".
Several business owners have erected posters throughout their stores, highlighting the impact that VAT would have on the price of food, entertainment, shopping, travel, electricity, phone, cable and water.
One such poster features the smiling faces of a family of four. The poster indicates that a family vacation before the implementation of VAT would cost $5,000. The cost after VAT is tagged at $5,750.
Another poster highlights the weekly cost of groceries going from $165 to $182.
The business owners are also asking their customers to sign petitions against VAT.
Many people have signed the petitions featured in JBR Building Supplies store on Wulff Road.
The company's CEO Charles Albury said he hopes the government will reconsider VAT.
Albury said the government has to look at a more comprehensive approach to taxation and should seek to collect the hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding taxes.
"They are just trying to add more taxes to already taxed out businesses," Albury said.
"And the problem that we have fundamentally is that it's going to hurt the poor people because that's who VAT is going to hit. The government has already admitted it."
With many Bahamians already struggling to make ends meet, Albury maintained that VAT is going to "push them over the edge".
"Everyone realizes that we have to do something, but this is not a fix-all," he said.
"There are a lot of other alternatives."
Faced with revenue challenges, the government intends to implement VAT at a rate of 15 percent on July 1.
VAT is expected to generate an additional $200 million in revenue, according to officials.
But Albury said a simple payroll tax would be a better alternative.
Dionisio D'Aguilar, president of Superwash, is also a part of the coalition against VAT.
"The reason I don't support VAT is simple," D'Aguilar said. "It will cause prices to go up 10 to 15 percent, salaries will remain the same, and most people will get poorer.
"You will be able to purchase less goods with your pay checks."
D'Aguilar said the government must find a more responsible way to raise revenue.
He said VAT will cause "too much of a shock to the economy".
The coalition, of which D'Aguilar and Albury are a part, is calling on Bahamians to "wake up", and demand the government delay VAT.
According to co-chair of the Coalition for Responsible Tax Robert Meyers, it represents about 700 businesses with about 65,000 to 70,000 employees.
The coalition has sent the government several alternative forms of tax.
Up to yesterday, more than 2,200 people had signed the coalition's petition on its website www.wakeupbahamas.com.
Meyers said he hopes for about 30,000 signatures.
Last month, Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed a group of American economists will undertake a final study on VAT to address concerns related to the tax regime.
This is one of several studies the government has commissioned in the last few months.
"So as to clearly demonstrate to all those who are speaking strongly, stridently, emotionally and even sometimes hysterically -- and to address every concern, my government has commissioned a final study by a team of internationally renowned economists," said Christie at the Bahamas Business Outlook at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort.
However, the coalition wants to conduct its own study on the impact VAT would have on the cost of living.
Meyers said previous studies had some "misgivings" in their projections. The coalition has therefore called on the government to provide it with the necessary data to carry out the study.
"The intent of the coalition and the intent of the petition is to demand a delay, to demand the facts, and to demand a look at the alternatives," Meyers said.
"Our primary concern is because of the level of consumer debt and because of the average wage, we are very concerned that it would have a damaging effect on the economy overall," he said.
"And if it slows the economy or puts us back into a recession, the inevitable is that there would be layoffs, cuts, and...if consumers fail then businesses will fail."
Meyers said the coalition will deliver the petition to the government at the end of February or March.
"This is a pivotal issue," he said. "If we don't get it right it could sink us."
Super Value owner Rupert Roberts also has several anti-VAT posters in his stores.
Roberts has been particularly vocal about the issue.
"VAT will kill the economy," he said.
Roberts said the government should consider income tax or some other alternative forms of taxation.
Asked how it will affect his business, he said, "It would hardly affect our business at all.
"We'll survive but we'll have to pass it on to the public. Our government is talking about introducing it in a recession...it's crazy."
The government has steadily spent more than it has collected.
Christie said previously the pace that the country is on is unsustainable.

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News Article

October 27, 2011
Elite lounge seeks 'best of the best'

A multi-million-dollar fishing lodge now under construction in Abaco plans to attract "the best of the best" when it comes to tourism, while providing the heart of a development that could change the island's economy.
Through a powerful joint venture, The Black Fly Fishing Lodge in the Schooner Bay development is trying to catch the big fish.
"Fly fishing clientele are top of the food chain when it comes to tourism in this country," said Clint Kemp, one of the key investors behind the project.
"Not only are they high net worth, but they tend to come in private aircrafts and are excellent repeat visitors. They aren't just coming for one week. They bring their friends and family and their presence often leads to further investment."
The lodge, slated for completion in 2013, will feature eight large rooms, a restaurant, bar and supplies store. A new fleet of boats will also be offered, giving guests access to salt-water fly fishing and deep water fishing.
Coming in at $1,000 per night for the full experience, the boutique lodge is meant to cater to exclusive guests which are often synonymous with the sport.
Meanwhile, Black Fly has also partnered with Nervous Waters, one of the most recognizable names in fly fishing, which operates 14 establishments all over the world.
Kemp told Guardian Business that Nervous Waters has bought a stake in the lodge and now acts as a shareholder.
"They bought a substantial stake in the company," he explained.
"That gives us the good housing seal of approval."
Kemp said the lodge will also be open to the general public, although certain areas are meant for guests only, such as the cigar smoking room on the top floor.
Kemp estimated the initial cost of the project to be between $4 million and $5 million.
But beyond the exclusivity of one lodge, Orjan Lindroth the president of the development company behind Schooner Bay, added that this venture serves as a centerpiece for what should one day become a flourishing harbor town.
"The lodge sits at the head," he told Guardian Business.
"It's very important architecturally and creates that feel. It will become a meeting place for friends and family."
Lindroth explained the idea behind the property is to create a "robust business model" that can cater to not just the tourists but the community as well.
As work on the lodge kicks into gear, Schooner Bay continues to rise up around it.
Lindroth said five houses are now complete, and another 10 are expected to be done in the late winter or early spring. Five other separate dwellings are slated to begin construction around Christmas.
A six-unit condominium unit, consisting of traditional buildings with both residential and commercial units, is breaking ground in February 2012, he added.
Several of these units have been sold already, with prices ranging from $250,000 to $350,000.
Lindroth said the pricing is meant to reflect the wide cross-section residents Schooner Bay wishes to attract.
The harbor opened in June, with the lodge resting at its mouth.
The name for the lodge, Lindroth added, came from Vaughn Cochran, the artist and owner of Black Fly Outfitters, which sells world-famous merchandise bearing his logo.
Cochran is also a shareholder in the new lodge.
Kemp called Cochran's involvement and the Black Fly name a "lifestyle statement" lending further credibility to the project.
He said no other lodge like this exists in The Bahamas. What makes the venture particularly unique, he felt, was the fact the lodge is located in a community.
"This is the only one that incorporates itself into the community," he said.
"To have a fishing lodge in a community where they can interact with people is important. It means a higher, more textured experience. As it becomes a living town, our guests will want to be a part of that."

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News Article

June 01, 2011
Customs rate on security equipment among duties reduced

Business owners are getting some relief in securing their businesses with the elimination of customs duty on surveillance equipment in the 2011/2012 budget.
It was one of a number of reductions in customs duty rates Ingraham listed during the budget debate Monday.
In addition to the security equipment exemption, rates were reduced on a number of food and other consumer items, medical equipment, building materials, classroom school supplies for teachers and electronic book readers.
"
My government is again introducing a number of measures to further rationalize tariff and excise rates, encourage energy efficiency and provide relief to consumers," Ingraham said during his budget communication in the House of Assembly.
Guardian Business has the list of changes to duty rates provided for in the amended Revenue Order Act.

Description

Old

New

Rate

Rate

Sugar free gum

45%

30%

Sea salt and seasoning

salt

45%

10%

Wild rice

40%

0%

Instant coffee

30%

0%

Sliced and unsliced

sandwich turkey meat

40%

0%

Sliced and unsliced

ham sandwich meat

40%

0%

Sliced and unsliced

beef sandwich meat

45%

0%

Fresh fruit

30%

0%

Dish washing

detergents

40%

0%

Other laundry

detergents

7%

0%

Peanut butter and

peanut butter jam mixed

40%

10%

Jams

25%

10%

Frozen vegetarian food

45%

30%

Yogurt

35%

10%

Spices and Seasoning

35%

10%

Active yeast

30%

10%

Ketchup

30%

10%

Salad Dressing

30%

10%

Brake fluids

45%

40%

Fans

45%

25%

Air conditions

45%

40%

Anti-freezing

preparations (radiator coolant)

45%

40%

Tubular needles and

needles for sutures

35%

0%

Human organ and glands

40%

0%

Kidney machines

10%

0%

Parts for kidney

machines

10%

0%

Printed documents

40%

0%

Electric cars

85%

25%

Underarm deodorant and

antiperspirant.

45%

10%

Removal of duty on

used personal clothing including footwear of returning residents

35%

0%

Ribbons for type

writers

45%

10%

Plastic toilet seat

45%

25%

PVC fittings

45%

35%

Insulated concrete

forms

45%

25%

Insulated steel wall

panels

45%

25%

Insulation spray foam.

45%

10%

Varicose stockings.

45%

0%

Parts and accessories

for typewriters, word processing machines, calculators and similar machines.

60%

10%

Parts for routers and

switches for telephony.

45%

10%

Baby bottle nipples

45%

0%

Baby wipes.

10%

0%

Solar air conditioners

45%

10%

Chicken

40%

30%

Security cameras

10%

0%

Security cameras

systems

45%

0%

Animal food

45%

0%

Electronic book

readers

45%

0%

Allow teachers duty

exemption on school supplies to be used in the classroom.

Various Rates

0%

Reduction of duty

biodegradable Styrofoam boxes, cups, plates and silverware

45%

10%

 
 
 
 

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News Article
What's Wrong With Zhivargo Laing
November 21, 2011
What's Wrong With Zhivargo Laing

The short answer: nothing. There's nothing wrong with him. An interesting thing happened in Jamaica recently.  Political junkies didn't miss it, I'm sure. Prime Minister Bruce Golding, 63 years old, stepped down and his Jamaica Labour Party has selected 39-year-old Andrew Holness, the minister of education, to be their leader and consequently, prime minister.

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News Article

February 14, 2012
Chinese developer spends millions on local materials

Bahamian workers and businesses continue to benefit from the rise of Baha Mar, with at least 200 still on-site working hand-in-hand with Chinese counterparts.
China Construction America, the firm spearheading construction of the $2.6 billion resort, has spent millions purchasing materials from in and around the country to help bring the project to fruition.
"We actually procured quite a lot of materials locally," said Tiger Wu, vice president of China Construction America. "Much of the cement came from here. They have a quarry in Grand Bahama we used for other materials. I think the total value will be in the millions of dollars."
That said, Wu pointed out that limited local supplies and logistics have proven to be a major challenge thus far.
The company has also acquired a great deal of equipment and material from both the U.S. and China, which will continue to trickle in until the resort is completed in December 2014.
Robert Sands, senior vice president of administrative and external affairs at Baha Mar, estimated there are close to 300 Chinese working full-time on the actual construction site, and 200 Bahamians.
"Ground works, hauling, support work, installation ... Bahamians have remained a fixture in terms of labor," Sands told Guardian Business.
The Baha Mar executive also noted there are a variety of indirect jobs associated with the resort.
"The trucking that is constantly coming, which is supported by shipping and logistics, and the clearing that takes place. All of this adds up to many local companies supporting us," he added.
The heavy importation of goods is well timed.
APD Limited, the company responsible for the $82 million Nassau Container Port on Arawak Cay, seeks to centralize all imports and exports to New Providence within the coming months.
More than 12,000 everyday Bahamians became shareholders in the company when APD Limited put forward its initial public offering last month.
However, Sands did not anticipate a major boom for shareholders despite the large importation of goods, principally because Baha Mar benefits from the Hotel Encouragement Act.
"There are concessions on duties and building supplies," he explained. "But they will have to be moved and transported. The new port will mean tremendous convenience as well."
Sands revealed that Baha Mar is hoping to establish its own bonded customs area for the clearance of goods so they can be brought directly to the site.
Wu told Guardian Business that the project will still contribute to revenue at the port.
"For example, when bringing in things from the U.S., we are still paying the port for handling fees to get it on the truck. So there are some expenses for us," he said.
The China Construction America chief, who has worked in Canada, the U.S. and Africa, noted that he is accustomed to working overseas and managing different cultures.
He expressed confidence that Bahamians and the Chinese will rise to the occasion, work cooperatively and learn from each other as Baha Mar becomes a reality.
"We all came here for the same reason," he added. "Everyone has been taught that way and it is going to be a team effort to get it all done. Everyone has that kind of mind-set. The only way we can succeed is to work together."

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News Article

February 12, 2011
Bank fire forces closure

Operations at three businesses on the Tonique Williams-Darling Highway came to a standstill for almost an hour yesterday, after a generator caught fire at a bank in the area and forced an evacuation.
The generator that supplies power to the Bank of The Bahamas caught afire some time after mid-day, surrounding the building in thick smoke and setting off the alarm.
The bank, the National Workers Cooperative Credit Union and Workers Wash were immediately evacuated.
There were no injuries and the buildings were not damaged.
Cable Beach Fire Branch officer Corporal 1331 Lamont Bain said the fire was confined to the bank’s generator system, which is located at the back of the building.
He said the ...

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News Article

October 27, 2011
Elite lodge seeks 'best of the best'

A multi-million-dollar fishing lodge now under construction in Abaco plans to attract "the best of the best" when it comes to tourism, while providing the heart of a development that could change the island's economy.
Through a powerful joint venture, Black Fly Bonefish Lodge in the Schooner Bay development is trying to catch the big fish.
"Fly fishing clientele are top of the food chain when it comes to tourism in this country," said Clint Kemp, one of the key investors behind the project.
"Not only are they high net worth, but they tend to come in private aircrafts and are excellent repeat visitors. They aren't just coming for one week. They bring their friends and family and their presence often leads to further investment."
The lodge, slated for completion in 2013, will feature eight large rooms, a restaurant, bar and supplies store. A new fleet of boats will also be offered, giving guests access to salt-water fly fishing and deep water fishing.
Coming in at $1,000 per night for the full experience, the boutique lodge is meant to cater to exclusive guests which are often synonymous with the sport.
Meanwhile, Black Fly has also partnered with Nervous Waters, one of the most recognizable names in fly fishing, which operates 14 establishments all over the world.
Kemp told Guardian Business that Nervous Waters has bought a stake in the lodge and now acts as a shareholder.
"They bought a substantial stake in the company," he explained.
"That gives us the good housing seal of approval."
Kemp said the lodge will also be open to the general public, although certain areas are meant for guests only, such as the cigar smoking room on the top floor.
Kemp estimated the initial cost of the project to be between $4 million and $5 million.
But beyond the exclusivity of one lodge, Orjan Lindroth the president of the development company behind Schooner Bay, added that this venture serves as a centerpiece for what should one day become a flourishing harbor town.
"The lodge sits at the head," he told Guardian Business.
"It's very important architecturally and creates that feel. It will become a meeting place for friends and family."
Lindroth explained the idea behind the property is to create a "robust business model" that can cater to not just the tourists but the community as well.
As work on the lodge kicks into gear, Schooner Bay continues to rise up around it.
Lindroth said five houses are now complete, and another 10 are expected to be done in the late winter or early spring. Five other separate dwellings are slated to begin construction around Christmas.
A six-unit condominium unit, consisting of traditional buildings with both residential and commercial units, is breaking ground in February 2012, he added.
Several of these units have been sold already, with prices ranging from $250,000 to $350,000.
Lindroth said the pricing is meant to reflect the wide cross-section residents Schooner Bay wishes to attract.
The harbor opened in June, with the lodge resting at its mouth.
The name for the lodge, Lindroth added, came from Vaughn Cochran, the artist and owner of Black Fly Outfitters, which sells world-famous merchandise bearing his logo.
Cochran is also a shareholder in the new lodge.
Kemp called Cochran's involvement and the Black Fly name a "lifestyle statement" lending further credibility to the project.
He said no other lodge like this exists in The Bahamas. What makes the venture particularly unique, he felt, was the fact the lodge is located in a community.
"This is the only one that incorporates itself into the community," he said.
"To have a fishing lodge in a community where they can interact with people is important. It means a higher, more textured experience. As it becomes a living town, our guests will want to be a part of that."

read more »


News Article

June 18, 2014
June 20 groundbreaking for North Abaco port project

China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), in association with the Ministry of Works, will officially host the groundbreaking ceremony of the $39 million North Abaco Port Project on Friday, June 20th.
The occasion will mark the start of construction on the state-of-the-art Coopers Town, Abaco facility and is expected to have several government ministers, regional executives and business persons throughout the industry in attendance.
"This means that we are ready to go ahead with the actual building of the port," said Felix Chang, CHEC Bahamas principal. "It is an exciting time for China Harbour to be here in The Bahamas, working alongside the locals to meet their needs of increased business opportunities for many years to come.
"We invite interested members of the local community, business sector and government ministries to come and join us as we kickoff the much-anticipated start of construction."
The groundbreaking ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Friday, shortly after a scheduled basketball game between CHEC staff, and a local Abaco team consisting of various community members. The friendly basketball match is in line with the kind of cultural exchange activities CHEC continues to promote, specifically in the countries in which it operates. Good corporate social responsibility is a part of the company's mandate with sponsorship commitments in athletics, environmental cleanup campaigns, cultural competitions, donations to the elderly and needy children, as well as provisions for victims of natural disasters. Last month, CHEC donated food supplies and other items to over 100 persons who were left homeless after a devastating fire destroyed over 50 homes in Marsh Harbour, Abaco.
The company is committed to engaging in more of these kinds of activities in The Bahamas and will continue to be an active corporate neighbor in the community.

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