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News Article

October 10, 2013
Interns praise Nassau Conference internship opportunities

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.

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News Article

November 16, 2011
PUBLIC SECTOR 'NOT TAKING BAHAMAS INTO THIS CENTURY'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

The Government has little choice but to continue privatising key revenue-generating agencies such as the Registrar General's Department, a leading accountant warning yesterday that the public sector was failing to attract "the talent that is needed to take the country into the next century".

Raymond Winder, managing partner of Deloitte & Touche (Bahamas), told Tribune Business that despite the Government's commitment to reducing public sector response times and improve efficiencies, it not appear to "be making the headway we need to make to be more competitive".

Suggesting that this reduced the Bahamas' attractiveness ...

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News Article

October 23, 2011
CANADA DOES ALL TO RATIFY TAX DEAL

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

THE CANADIAN government has completed "all procedures necessary" to ratify the Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) it signed with the Bahamas last year, Sandra Slaats, a partner in Deloitte & Touche (Canada's) international tax group has told Tribune Business.

Mrs Slaats said: "The Canadian government has completed all procedures necessary to ratify the TIEA. The TIEA will come into force once the two governments notify each other that the TIEA has been ratified. Since we understand from the Bahamas Financial Services Board that the Bahamas has also ratified the TIEA, we expect this to occur ...

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News Article

September 01, 2010
Fears of no economic recovery until 2012

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 ...

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News Article

October 09, 2013

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.

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News Article

November 18, 2011
Unique Canada TIEA comes into force

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.

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News Article

January 18, 2011
Tighter reporting 'opens US market up' for Bahamas

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 ...

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News Article

December 14, 2010
Bahamas to offer 'highest binding tariff rates' possible

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 ...

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News Article

December 05, 2013
Winder: Bahamas must 'strike balance' on WTO

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.

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News Article

September 06, 2011
WTO chief negotiator: Time to get real

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."

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