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It was indeed a 'family affair' in Marathon Bahamas this Sunday, as the two overall titles from the running of the fifth annual event were captured by the husband and wife team of Justin and Melissa Gillette.
The dynamic duo were just one of many families that completed in the 26.2-mile course, which took runners on a picturesque route on the northern tip of New Providence. Justin won the men's overall title in 2:36.57 and Melissa took the female title in 3:04.01.
"It felt good to win," said men's winner Justin Gillette. "It was definitely a shock to my system, to go from eight
degrees (weather), and here we were running in about 65 or 70. Everybody here on the island was just so excited. It didn't matter what country you were from, they were cheering real loud so it was pretty fun to be a part of this and to win. I've never been to The Bahamas before, so I just thought it was a unique idea. It is winter time back home so the idea of going to an island in the middle of winter is always appealing. We brought the whole family down, my kids, my wife and my in-laws. We just made a nice little vacation out of it. It is nice to have matching awards in the house, it makes the trip feel a whole lot better."
While Justin said the wind was a bit of a problem for him around mile 16 or 17, Melissa said the wind actually helped to cool her down. She also said seeing her husband out front, made her push even harder.
She said: "I think it was a little different experience for me. The beginning was rough for me. I had to get adjusted to the temperature. For me, the wind actually helped to cool me down so I ran about four seconds faster in the second half, than what I ran the first half. I got into a rhythm later on."
The top masters male division was won by Bahamian Keithrell Hanna and visitor Michelle Walker took the top masters female spot. Hanna's time was 2:49.25 and Walker finished in 3:41.26. Hanna was the first Bahamian to cross the finish line. The Freeport, Grand Bahama native said: "It feels great and I give God thanks for the victory. I have been running for 30-plus years, from I was a little child.
"This is the my third marathon. I am getting ready for the Boston Marathon, I was just preparing myself and using this for bigger events. In Freeport, I run 15-20 miles every Saturday and Sunday, running the sand and on the grass."
A number of groups and organizations also competed in the annual event. One group in particular, the Kids of Courage, an organization based in New York, had more than 50 participants. The race, for one of their members Merra Herman, was special in more ways than one. Herman said: "Kids of Courage is fairly new to me, but it has been amazing. I used to do a lot of things, like getting myself up and keeping myself up emotionally. Sometimes I used to sit in class and I couldn't move my legs because I couldn't feel them. I used to be in tremendous pain. I used to say I don't know how I was going to get up, but now, whenever that happens, all I do is think about my wonderful counsellors, the wonderful staff and friends at Kids of Courage. It is just amazing because I never had that before. It also brought me and my family closer. My brother, he pushed me pretty much the whole way, and I don't think many siblings would have done that."
The top relay team in the male division was Pharmachem Technologies which posted a time of 3:23.27 for the win. Following them in a time of 4:00.27 was Iberolam. Strombus was third in 4:03.48. The Hillview Pathfinders clocked 4:11.46 for fourth and Deloitte As One came in fifth in 4:16.58. The Smoking Hot Mamas was the top female relay team, stopping the clock at 3:56.59. The Long Island Gals came in second and the Desperate Housewives team finished third in times of 3:59.34 and 4:11.26 respectively.
Winning the men's half marathon was Jonathan Volpi, in 1:11.27, and Angela Cobb took the women's half marathon in 1:26.23.
The Bahamas' compliance under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is "progressing," according to a stakeholder.
Lawrence Lewis, a partner at Deloitte & Touche who is leading his firm's work on FATCA, said that while the government is moving forward to implement the Model I Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and could be officially signing on in early 2014, the Bahamas still needs to introduce legislation that would protect financial institutions and clients under FATCA.
"There's going to be legislation that's attached to it because it will need to be something that will then give the financial institutions the right and the obligation to pass customer confidential information to our competent tax authority, then interact with the IRS so there will have to be legislation as to not expose financial institutions that will be going through that process," he told Guardian Business.
"I have not been privy to any legislation, but I do understand that certainly wheels have been turning in that regard.
"It's likely to happen not too late in the new year. Obviously, from an organizational standpoint, even though it has been announced the way that we're going, there is a certain level of comfort that comes with the certainty of actually having signed on and having the agreements in hand, and everybody being able to see it and what's required under it."
FATCA was signed into U.S. law in 2010 through Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act. It seeks to identify U.S. taxpayers with accounts at foreign financial institutions and attempts to enforce the reporting of those accounts.
The IRS released Notice 2013-43 pushed back the Foreign Financial Institution (FFI) Registration Portal opening and extended most of the FATCA deadlines established by the final regulations.
The Foreign Financial Institutions (FFI) Registration Portal opened on August 19, 2013, a little over a month later than previously planned.
At that time, FFIs got the chance to start setting up their profiles and adding entities without actually committing to signing or registering, until January 1, 2014.
The IRS also extended other compliance deadlines including withholding, onboarding and pre-existing account remediation by six months.
With the debate intensifying on the introduction of value-added tax (VAT), Raymond Winder, managing partner at Deloitte and Touche, doesn't believe that form of taxation is "appropriate" for web shops.
"You have to remember that VAT ultimately goes to the consumer, so if you tax the web shops VAT, what they would do is pass it on to the players. That's not what you want," he said yesterday.
"You're really saying that you have enterprises that are generating huge profits and they should be making more of a contribution to government. That's what you're saying and that will not happen through VAT. Clearly, it's unfortunate for us to have enterprises the size of web shops in The Bahamas and they are not feeling some sort of taxation. But I'm not sure if value-added tax is the appropriate taxation for the web shops."
As a solution, he suggested that web shops be made to pay higher business licenses taxes.
Winder's comments are a far cry from those of Philip Galanis, managing partner at HLB Galanis & Co., who recently told Guardian Business it's an area that VAT should be added to because the country's
gaming sector is currently "revenue central".
"I think the issue is really going to be whether or not the winners are going to be taxed at the VAT level because I don't think they are," Galanis said.
According to the Valued Added Tax Bill 2013 and the Value Added Tax Regulations 2013, while most goods and services, including cable, phone and electricity bills for most consumers, will be "vatable", some services and goods will be exempted from the new tax such as games of chance, gambling and lotteries.
But Galanis said it's something the government should reconsider.
His comments were backed up by a International Monetary Fund report on tax reform in The Bahamas, titled "Tax Reforms for Revenue Buoyancy", which suggests that spending on gambling activities should be subject to value-added tax in the same manner as other forms of consumption expenditures.
Robert Myers, co-chair of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation's Coalition for Responsible Taxation, has suggested that in the interest of bolstering government revenues and fairness web shops must be subject to taxation of some kind.
Downtown merchants yesterday expressed great concern over the implications of value added tax for the competitiveness of their products, as the Downtown Nassau Partnership revealed that a study has been commissioned to determine the potential impact of VAT on this sector which to a large extent relies on its "duty free" status for profitability.
Guardian Business understands some of the larger retailers may be proposing the creation of a "tourist zone" downtown that would not
be subject to VAT in the hope of avoiding the completiveness-reducing implications of VAT on the products they sell primarily to cruise ship visitors who have the choice of buying in other ports, or back at home.
While recognizing that it is not clear precisely how the sector will be treated under the forthcoming VAT regime, luxury and other duty free retailers downtown yesterday suggested dire consequences for downtown from the imposition of VAT, both on the cost of items sold, and costs to businesses, who will see VAT added to their already costly commercial leases in the downtown area.
At the Perfume Shop, Marsha, who declined to offer her surname, said that she sees the potential for VAT to "absolutely make us less competitive" in the eyes of visitors.
"It's just one more thing that they're going to put on our backs that will affect the downtown area again. If their intention is to destroy downtown this is a good way to go about it."
Noting that buyers are already extremely price conscious, Marsha said she anticipates the potential for VAT to wipe out any edge The Bahamas may have on items such as perfume.
"Right now there's a very small margin between US prices and our prices. They have their iphones in here all the time and if Macy's has something for $82 and I can only offer it for $79, they're not going to buy it to carry it around."
Meanwhile, another downtown merchant who declined to be named, said they also believe VAT would make their jewelry and watches unattractive to purchasers.
"First of all I have to say it's been very unclear what would happen, but if I were to assume 15 percent would be placed on top of prices we have now, I think we would become extremely uncompetitive.
"The reason we are so popular in terms of other cruise ports is that we can claim we are 'duty free', and have no tax like some of our neighbors. We know in Aruba where the tax is extremely low in terms of duty they do tremendously well.
"When you go up in terms of VAT and other taxes we see where it is a challenge, and I know for sure that we would have a challenge. It would adversely impact this business, to say the least."
Gevon Moss, Executive Administrator at the Downtown Nassau Partnership, told Guardian Business that a small group of downtown luxury retailers have come together to commission a study by Deloitte on the potential impact of VAT on their businesses.
"It's going to look at how we effectively work around VAT and 'duty free' and how it will all come together. It will address what has happened in other jurisdictions with duty free products when VAT was implemented," said Moss.
Yesterday one of the major downtown merchants, John Bull, declined to comment on VAT's potential to challenge the sector, as Inga Bowleg, the company's director of business development said not enough was known.
Another major downtown luxury retailer with whom Guardian Business spoke expressed a similar sentiment, adding: "The whole problem is no one knows anything, and businesses want to know."
He went on to note that besides the effect of VAT on competitiveness of luxury goods in the eyes of visitors, concern may also be warranted with respect to the impact of VAT on Bahamian's demand for these items, noting that around "fifty percent" of such retailers' market is Bahamian.
"After you go to your hairdresser in nine months and they tack 15 percent, and you go somewhere else and they tack on 15 percent, are you going to have a bit of change in your wallet to go and buy another pair of shoes? We depend on local customers too."
The upcoming Nassau Conference continues to undertake its primary mandate to provide ongoing professional development opportunities for current and future leaders of the financial services industry.
As a result of their participation in Nassau Conference 2012, the annual professional development conference presented by the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies in The Bahamas (AIBT), 11 College of The Bahamas (COB) students had the opportunity this past summer to gain invaluable experience by completing internships with nine leading banks and trust companies in The Bahamas.
By all accounts, the students had impactful experiences that will shape their future careers in the sector, conference organizers stated in a release issued yesterday.
Intern Serissa Edwards expressed that her time working in business development at Winterbotham Trust Company "was a good learning experience and good preparation for the work world".
Paula Hilaire, who interned in the Mutual Funds Department of Societe Generale, added "I am really grateful for the opportunity. It was a great learning experience."
Petra Armbrister spent her summer in the Administration department of St. James Bank & Trust Company and was grateful for the exposure the internship afforded her.
"It allowed me the opportunity to explore my career interests with mentoring from employees and gave me an opportunity to network with professionals in the industry," he said.
UBS intern Deshawn Rolle said the opportunity "helped me realize that I want to be in banking and I'm able to see the different routes I can take and where I ultimately want to be in life."
"Thank you again for this opportunity!" she said, adding: "Hopefully it isn't the last because many young minds can benefit from this program."
These and eight other interns spent the summer getting a first hand look at life as a financial services professional with the aforementioned companies as well as Credit Suisse AG, Pictet Bank & Trust, The Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company, The Private Trust Corporation Limited and UBS (Bahamas) Ltd.
For the 8th Annual Nassau Conference, the plan is to expand the internship program to 20 students for summer 2014. The Ministry of Financial Services is the lead sponsor of the conference, scheduled for Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at the British Colonial Hilton under the theme "The Shift Has Occurred. How Are You Positioned?", and its commitment facilitates the attendance of the COB students.
Additionally, the corporate community continues to show its support for The Nassau Conference including ATC Trustees (Bahamas) Limited; the Bahamas Financial Services Board; BSI Overseas (Bahamas) Ltd.; BTC; the Central Bank of The Bahamas; Credit Suisse AG, Nassau Branch; Deloitte; Higgs & Johnson; Julius Baer Bank & Trust (Bahamas) Ltd.; KPMG; LennoxPaton; Pictet Bank & Trust Ltd.; The Private Trust Corporation Limited; Societe Generale Private Banking (Bahamas) Limited; Scotia Private Client Group; SYZ & Co. Bank & Trust Limited; Star General Insurance Agency Limited; Sungard; UBS (Bahamas) Ltd. and The Winterbotham Trust Company Ltd.
The Nassau Conference is a professional development event dedicated to preparing and enhancing Bahamian professionals for continued success in the industry.
A dynamic and relevant agenda drew more than 200 attendees in the last two years and underscores AIBT's ongoing commitment, as founding partner, to the continued development and growth of this vital sector and its professionals.
As a key event on the financial services calendar, The Nassau Conference features a diverse range of presentations and panel discussions with subject matter experts, and provides a unique opportunity for networking and the exchange of ideas.
The Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) between The Bahamas and Canada, which could result in greater foreign direct investment and employment opportunities, came into force Wednesday.
Canada's Department of Finance made the announcement yesterday, posting a notice on its website indicating that the agreement was signed. With the TIEA in effect, it means that Canadian corporations will be able to set up active business in The Bahamas and, once they meet the stringent qualifying standards and tests, take advantage of the special tax incentive.
According to Deloitte Bahamas managing partner, Raymond Winder, this TIEA creates a competitive advantage for the Bahamas compared to Barbados.
"The biggest thing about this is the fact that for years Barbados has had competitive advantage over The Bahamas because it had a tax treaty with Canada which allowed Canadian companies to be domiciled in Barbados and repatriate profits to Canada and pay a small corporate tax in Barbados," Winder said.
"The TIEA allows The Bahamas the same privileges that the Barbados tax treaty allows, the only difference is the Canadian subsidiary doesn't need to incur any tax at all in The Bahamas to get this treatment. So the TIEA actually puts The Bahamas and other countries that sign TIEAs [with Canada] at a competitive advantage as compared to the current tax treaty Canada has with Barbados."
Getting into some of the legal aspects of the agreement, Higgs & Johnson partner, Dr Earl Cash, honed in on Article 13 of the TIEA. That article spells out the terms of the agreement's entry into force. It indicates that activities that either government is seeking information about must relate to matters considered a criminal offense in its own jurisdiction.
Cash also pointed out that the agreement reaches back to cover a taxable period from January 1, 2004. He said this may have been done to not prejudice Canada's information exchange provisions with The Bahamas against those of the United States, which has tax information exchange provisions with going back to that time.
Initially singed-off since June 17th, Canadian legislators had to enact changes to its excise laws to bring the TIEA into force. "The Excise Act and Excise Tax Act" amendments received royal assent in Canada on June 26th, paving the way for the TIEA coming into force.
At the time, Canadian-based experts Guardian Business spoke to thought early fall was a likely timeframe for the agreement coming into effect.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Enhanced reporting requirements could give the Bahamian financial services industry the opportunity "to go after US clients" once again, a leading accountant said yesterday, pointing out that marginal, per client compliance costs would be "substantially reduced" by upfront systems investment.
Lawrence Lewis, the Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas) partner, speaking to Tribune Business after addressing a Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) seminar on the issue, said the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) provisions would create a regulatory 'level playing field' since all jurisdictions would be required to adhere to i ...
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Bahamas Supermarkets, parent company of the 11-store City Markets grocery chain, owed the staff pension fund almost $519,000 at its 2009 year-end in unpaid rent for the company's head office, with its financial troubles preventing any contributions by the firm to the plan during the 2007-2009 period.
The audited financial statements for Bahamas Supermarkets 2009 fiscal year are more than a year late, given that the period closed some 14 and-a-half months ago, but they provide a further insight into the problems afflicting the supermarket chain and management's plans to remedy them, the accounts being heavily qualified by Deloitte & Touche ...
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Bahamian economic recovery will not happen until 2012 unless foreign direct investment (FDI) rapidly rebounds to levels seen two to three years ago, a senior accountant told Tribune Business yesterday, as fears intensified that a rebound - and reduced unemployment - may not occur next year.
Describing foreign direct investment as "the only thing that could create a real stimulus today" for the Bahamian economy, Raymond Winder, managing partner at Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas), said: "When you look at the performance of the US economy, and the performance of our economy, if those numbers do not begin to turn around - spending, income, mor ...
It turned out that 13 was a lucky number for 25 seasoned and budding golfers, as they walked away with awards at last Sunday's Bahamas Hotel Association's (BHA) 13th Annual Golf Tournament at the Ocean Club Course on Paradise Island.
Despite the threat of inclement weather, a record number of 104 golfers registered to claim bragging rights while helping to raise over $20,000 for student scholarships and a range of programs which BHA is doing in the nation's schools.
"We are most appreciative of the tremendous support from our members, friends of BHA, and of course the golfers for supporting this year's tournament," stated BHA President Stuart Bowe. "The turnout was fantastic. It will go a long way next year toward matching and we hope exceeding the record 12 students who were awarded scholarships this year as a result of previous efforts. The tournament and our auctions have helped to put 81 young Bahamians through college during the past year with scholarships valued at $287,000, "added Bowe.
Tournament organizers Fred Lunn, John Spinks, Ted Adderley, Nelson O'Kelley and Billy Lee commended the golfers for their support, in announcing the winners of this year's tournament at an awards ceremony following the tournament. The tournament was sanctioned by the Bahamas Golf Federation (BGF).
Capturing first place was the team of Peter Muscroft and Doug Cowper which was sponsored by Royal Star Assurance. They were followed by Cliff Petford and Jake Neudorf. Third place honors went to the Royal Bank of Canada team of Phil Andrews and G. Hill. Fred Lunn and Errol Brown took fourth place and were sponsored by the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board.
Rounding out the top 10 teams, in fifth place was Roger Chow-How and Eddie Carter. Sixth place went to Andrew Burrows and John Kinger. Taking seventh was Jeffrey Walcott and Tyrone Cunningham representing BTC. Nicholas Knowles and Harrison Collins took eighth. Ninth place went to Jim Wilson and Patrick Knowles representing Scotiabank, and capturing 10th was the team of Nelson O'Kelly and Paul Burke from Kerzner International.
This year's sponsors included: Fidelity Bank, Kerzner International, Royal Bank of Canada, the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, Bahamas Food Services, The d'Albenas Agency Ltd., Scotiabank, Bank of The Bahamas, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company, RoyalStar Assurance, KPMG, Graham Thompson & Co., Restaurants Bahamas (KFC), J.S. Johnson, the Lyford Cay Club, Banca del Sempione, Bahamas Wholesale Agency Ltd., Commonwealth Bank, Caribbean Bottling Company, Bahamas Hot Mix, N.U.A Insurance & Brokers, Deloitte & Touche, Nassau Motor Company, Pigeon Cay Beach Club, Providence Advisors, Wong's Rubber Stamp & Printing, American Hotel Register, Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach, Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort, Pelican Bay at Lucaya, American Airlines, Bahamasair, Comfort Suites Paradise Island, Treasure Cay Resort, Green Turtle Cay Club, Sandals Royal Bahamian, Ocean Club Golf Course, Nassau Airport Development Company, Island Merchants, Ridge Farms, Pineville Motel, Sunrise Resort & Marina, Blue Lagoon and Dolphin Encounters, Senor Frogs, Diamond's International, Via Caffe, Toads Hall Square Hill Estates, Sands Beer, Jewels by the Sea, Security & General Insurance, Luciano's of Chicago and Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Club.*Look for article images in our Online Gallery section.