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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.
The Ministry of Transport has received complaints that certain bus drivers play pornographic videos during the transport of passengers, Minister of State for Transport and Aviation Hope Strachan revealed yesterday.
The complaint comes as the Ministry of Transport is dusting off longstanding plans for the creation of a unified bus system, Strachan said as she headed into the weekly Cabinet meeting.
Officials from the Ministry of Transport held a meeting last week with jitney drivers and public franchise owners seeking support for the initiative and to address public concerns.
"We wanted to address the number of complaints that we get about the jitney drivers and how they operate their vehicles on the streets of New Providence, and we also wanted to hear from them about any issues they have with the Road Traffic Department and the ministry," Strachan told reporters yesterday.
In addition to the complaints related to the playing of pornography, public complaints regarding the public busing system also include the loud music played on some buses, drivers abandoning their routes and the inappropriate attire of certain drivers.
Strachan said that during last week's meeting the proposal for the unification of the public bus system was supported.
"For the most part they are actually going to support that initiative, so we hope to get that going in the next fiscal year."
The unified bus system was pushed by the former Christie administration, however, plans for that program subsided after the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) lost the general election in 2007.
There are about 500 franchise holders in the public busing system. The government is looking to bring all of those owners under one umbrella.
"It is a huge undertaking and I'm sure the cost involved is going to be enormous. We haven't really valued it," Strachan predicted.
She added that accounting firm Deloitte is engaged in an exercise to determine the value of each franchise.
"We have to know the value for the franchise owners so they know what is due to them, and the government knows what its financial obligations are going to be."
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
THE Bahamas' proximity to the US is the key factor undermining Bahamian entrepreneurs and small businesses, a leading accountant believes, adding that "thousands of jobs and hundreds of companies" would be created at home if it were not for the ease of Miami shopping.
Raymond Winder, managing partner at Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas), told Tribune Business that because a significant percentage of residents did the bulk of their goods and services purchases in Florida, the "normal recycling" of investment and salary dollars did not happen where the Bahamian economy was concerned.
It was this loss of potential consumer spending th ...
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas' initial goods (market access) offer to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will submit the "highest binding tariff rates" possible in a bid to protect Bahamian manufacturers, this nation's chief negotiator has told Tribune Business, pointing out that "far more" small and medium-sized firms rely on the tariff structure for competitive advantage than many think.
Raymond Winder, the Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas) managing partner, told Tribune Business that Bahamian companies would have to radically alter their mindset once this nation acceded to full membership in the WTO, becoming proactive in both developing existi ...
The government is "putting heat" under plans to unify the public bus system, with an updated business plan being created to move the transportation system from one characterized by "damaging and harmful competition" to one that better serves passengers' needs, the minister of transport has revealed.
Glenys Hanna-Martin, minister of transport and aviation, met yesterday with consultants at Deloitte and Touche who are putting together the plan that will undergird the overhaul.
She called the plan "the most critical and difficult aspect" of the process, involving questions such as valuation of bus franchises.
While Hanna-Martin stressed that the plan has yet to be fully determined, and will only be completed in consultation with those in the
industry, she noted that it will essentially involve the movement of the 500 franchise holders and over 300 buses that currently exist under a single entity most likely organized as a public-private partnership.
"You have hundreds of individuals owners and you have to put on the table what the deal is in terms of how they would transfer their livelihood and ownership to a singular entity and how that would work.
"We haven't narrowed down a timeline, but we have said we have a very serious problem which is our public transportation system and we now must move forward urgently and expeditiously in consultation with the stakeholders," said Hanna Martin in an interview with Guardian Business.
The unification of the public bus system is part of the New Providence Road Improvement Program, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, which also involved the upgrading of New Providence's road network.
Noting that talk of bus system unification has been ongoing for many years, Hanna Martin suggested that the government is now committed to seeing the process through to completion.
Emphasizing that the plan is in early stages, she said it is possible it will involve individual franchise holders becoming shareholders in the new entity.
"We're of the view that right now the public transportation system is a very profitable one despite its many inefficiencies and we believe under this (singular structure) it would be even more profitable, while at the same time creating rationality."
Once completed, bus unification should ensure a better passenger experience, with more comprehensive approach to routing, among other issues.
"What we are trying to do now is to create a singular structure, a corporatized structure that brings some orderly coordination. In built into that will be things we are really concerned about, which include good routing; ensuring that we cover areas that are not presently covered because they are not financially beneficial.
"We want a fair system that is efficient and creates ease for passengers, and which eventually involves upgrading the fleet to make it more energy efficient. We want employees who are bus drivers who have no incentive other than the wage that they make," said Hanna Martin.
Meanwhile, the Minister said that the government will meet on Thursday with bus franchise holders as it seeks to make progress with other issues that plague the bus industry, such as behavior of drivers and safety concerns.
It's time for politicians to "be real", and for the public to come to grips with the truth about how the governments get the money to execute social and other programs, according to the nation's lead negotiator to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"As a country, we still have a lot of education to do with our citizens regarding how government expenses and revenue works," Raymond Winder, who is also a partner with Deloitte & Touche, told Guardian Business.
"Somehow, Bahamians think the government can just create revenue and we can just continue to burden the government with this and that obligation and they will just continue to find [the money for them]."
Winder's comments follow a Moody's downgrade of the outlook for the Bahamian economy from stable to negative last week, although it affirmed the A3 rating for government bonds.
The international ratings explanation for the downgrade included a 150 percent increase in the debt level over the past decade to nearly half of GDP by the end of 2010.
Other reasons were historically low growth rates limiting the prospect of the country growing out of its debt burden and challenges the government faces to raising additional revenues.
Politicians have an important role to play as the country needs honest dialogue and discussion around these challenges, according to Winder, who said future opportunities for the government to borrow will be reduced.
"Going forward, The Bahamas will not be in a position to borrow to the extent that it has in the last five years," Winder said.
"We are not having sufficient balanced discourse on issues relevant to the country and while we may want government to do more, the reality is we are not in a position to continuously meet those new obligations."
Any expansion of existing government programs should be accompanied with an explanation to the citizenry of how such expansion would be funded. Winder said the government is "really challenged" to control its existing expenses - the bulk of which are payroll related.
Addressing the challenges to raising revenue, the WTO negotiator said the most important part of that discussion must focus on the issue of leakage - losses in the amount of revenue the government actually receives versus what it should receive. The current import-duty based tax system is one that should result in a minimum of such losses, Winder said, as it requires for the primary source to be paid up front.
He compared that to value added tax or income tax based systems that require voluntary reporting from persons or entities. Typically, they produce greater losses through leakage, he said.
"Until we can put in place sound controls around identifying leakages, just changing the system may not yield as significant an increase in revenue as people may expect," Winder said.
"If those controls are not in place it would be very similar to real property taxes, and we all know there are huge sums still outstanding on real property taxes."
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
BAHAMIANS should be permitted to borrow in US dollars against assets that generate significant amounts of this currency, a senior accountant urged yesterday, warning that current restrictions placed them at a major disadvantage when it came to ownership of key businesses in this nation.
Raymond Winder, managing partner at Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas), said removing current exchange control restrictions on foreign currency borrowing would enable Bahamian entrepreneurs and individuals to participate in major investment projects, such as resorts, as owners.
They would be able to raise financing on the same terms as foreigners, whose ability to obtai ...
Local manufacturers cannot continue to rely heavily on import taxes, if The Bahamas is to gain accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), a top accountant has stated.
Raymond Winder, managing partner at Deloitte and Touche and chief negotiator for The Bahamas' WTO accession, stressed to Guardian Business the need for the country to strike a balance as the current tariff rates remain too high in certain areas.
"The question is can we carve out a portion of the products which we currently manufacture in The Bahamas and be able to retain high enough rates on those products," he said.
"However, we will have to reduce the tariffs on other areas so the overall tariff rate is low even though you may have portions of those products that have high taxes, but others will now have to be much lower and bring the average down.
"Clearly, a number of our local manufacturers rely heavily on import taxes on finished products that are similar to the ones that they manufacture and they rely on that."
Chairman of the Bahamas Trade Commission Philip Galanis recently expressed concern about the impact the liberalization of trade will have on the manufacturing and agriculture industries, where stakeholders believe it will leave them "extremely vulnerable" to the importation of goods that compete with those they produce. He also admitted that it might be quite some time before The Bahamas receives WTO accession.
"It really creates a dichotomous situation. While we understand the needs and concerns of the producers, the government also has to take into account the needs of citizens who want products at a cheaper price," he said.
"Egg producers are very concerned because there is an excess of eggs in the Bahamian market presently. Part of the reason is because the food stores are saying that they can buy eggs cheaper. So they (egg producers) feel threatened or vulnerable to what's happening. They are hoping that the government will help them in a way, either by increasing tariffs on imports, or limiting the importation."
Their comments to Guardian Business come as Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder confirmed that The Bahamas and WTO have "mutually agreed" to postpone a working group meeting. With The Bahamas still in the process of completing its factual summary on its trade regime, and with the WTO Bali Ministerial Conference underway, the two sides agreed to postpone that meeting until February.
To date, the WTO has received this nation's offers as it relates to goods and services, indicating to what extent The Bahamas is willing to liberalize its trading regime in those areas.
Among the primary requirements of accession are a reduction in the average import tariff level, a fact that feeds into the discussion on the need for alternative forms of revenue such as value-added tax (VAT), upon WTO accession.
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.