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FREEPORT, Bahamas – The call went out earlier this year for submissions for local filmmakers interested in participating in the FLIFF On Location: Grand Bahama Island festival and the Blue Ribbon film review panel comprising of Willie A. M. Moss, John Swain, Sarah Hamilton, Rouen Robinson, and Cornelius McKinney have complete their review and selection of films to be showcased this year at the second annual film festival to take place from October 25 - 28th at the Pelican Bay Hotel's Canal House in Freeport.
I visited Freedom Park on Sunday, July 14, 2013 to hail some old friends. While sitting on the roundabout I asked about the Jungle Club, which had a new sign on it called the New Jungle Club.
I was advised that the Chinese are now renting the space and that they had the area "on lock"...
Constituencies and Candidates
Forensic accountant John Bain was recently lauded by the president and CEO of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) for his significant contributions to the Advisory Council of the world's largest anti-fraud organization, and the premier provider of anti-fraud training and education.
Bain, a chartered forensic accountant and one of the first 40 individuals worldwide to become a certified specialist in asset recovery, was personally thanked for his significant contribution to the Advisory Council.
"Your knowledgeable input helped us to make important decisions regarding the style and usability of the new ACFE.com; assisted in the improvement of course material like 'auditing for internal fraud' and 'healthcare fraud' and provided us with ideas on how we can make our conferences and seminars more beneficial for attendees," wrote James D. Ratley, president & CEO of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. The ACFE has over 60,000 members worldwide and is guided by the newly-created Advisory Council of nearly 300 fraud-fighting experts worldwide, of which John Bain is a leading member.
Bain believes his most valuable contribution to the Advisory Council's formation was broadening the body's focus. "As it stands now, the ACFE is seen as strictly concerned with fraud, though fraud only plays a small, though important role in forensic accounting. All fraud examinations involve forensic accounting, but not all forensic accounting engagements include fraud. In fact, one of the most frequent demands for forensic accounting is the resolution of disputes among partners when no one is accusing anyone of fraud, but there is simply a lack of careful documentation, and settling requires tracing the history of all the financial tracks until at the end of the track it is clear who contributed what, who gained what and who deserves what portion."
Winner of the 2007 ACCA Achievement Award for the Americas, Bain assists attorneys, individuals and companies involved in civil litigation matters that involve disputes over shares, partnerships, debt or other financial issues. He works with some of the top law firms in the country and his findings have been pivotal in judicial civil and criminal matters.
In a technology driven age, computer science has become a fundamental field of study that drives the world, yet in The Bahamas, it remains an unchartered subject in school curriculums.
Now, an e-learning specialist who has just returned from leading a seminar of international experts said it's time to wake up and smell the future.
"The study of computer science is just as important as mathematics and english," said John Bain, the principal of JSB & Associates and chairman of the e-Learning Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
"The study of computer science is not a luxury, and should not be an elective, but an integral part of education. It is a vital, analytical discipline, and a system of logical thinking that is as relevant to the modern world as physics, chemistry or biology."
Bain, a chartered forensic accountant and one of the first 40 individuals worldwide to become a Certified Specialist in Asset Recovery (CSAR), employs the use of computer science skills daily in his profession.
Bain assists attorneys, individuals and companies involved in civil litigation matters that involve disputes over shares, partnerships, debt or other financial issues.
If Bain could change one thing concerning business in The Bahamas it would be to make computer science a mandatory subject in the curriculum.
"We are not preparing our children for tomorrow's world," he said. "The schools are not required to teach computer science, but ICT (information and communications technology), a strange hybrid of desktop publishing lessons and Microsoft Office tutorials. While Microsoft Word and Excel are useful vocational skills and are suitable for office work, they are never going to equip anybody for a career in video games (gamification) or visual effects."
Bain, the winner of the 2007 ACCA achievement award for the Americas, is not alone in his position that computer science is a necessary subject for junior and high-school students. With lucrative industries such as interactive entertainment, a $3.1 billion industry in the U.K. alone, heavily reliant on professionals skilled in computer science, the pendulum is swinging in favor of making this subject mandatory in junior and high school curriculums in developed nations worldwide.
Industries necessary for developed nations to survive such as aerospace and defence, chemical and pharmaceutical and the automobile industry, all make use of super computers and skilled computer scientists.
In the U.K., Education Secretary Michael Gove in a January 2012 speech to BETT, an educational technology trade fair, admitted that the office skills covered in ICT courses currently taught in British schools are out of date.
"Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum," stated Gove.
"Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch."
In the U.S., Google sponsors CS4HS (Computer Science for High School) an annual program launched to promote computer science high school and middle school curriculum.
Google's education group offers grants to universities who in turn develop 2-3 day workshops for high school computer science teachers. Grants are currently offered in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Strong computer science skills are necessary to develop the future designers, creators, and inventors of new technology. According to Bain, "computer science is not a luxury; it is essential knowledge for the 21st century."
The Bahamas was warned today to hold the line on indirect personal taxation as a just-released study of 26 countries revealed what its authors called "the yawning gap" between the ability of high- and low-tax economies to attract and retain talent and investment.
The study, conducted by UHY, the international accounting and consultancy network with affiliates in 81 countries, says the broadening gap has been driven by struggling European economies raising taxes to plug gaps in budget deficits while emerging economies like BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia India, China) are attracting more professionals -- and investment.
UHY warns higher taxation is making European economies even less competitive relative to rival low tax economies.
John Bain, managing partner of UHY Bain & Associates in The Bahamas office, warned that while The Bahamas was not included in the year-long, 26-nation study - Bain & Associates was just named to the global network last month - the country would do well to heed the results that clearly showed populations and investment followed the path of attractive personal taxation.
"The Bahamas, being a no-direct-tax destination and dependent on indirect taxes needs to be aware of the consequences of higher taxes," said Bain. "The population is highly taxed indirectly which results in the burden of taxation being skewed unfavorably towards the poor and middle class. The Bahamas government has promised a revamping of its taxation system. As some of the residual income of some European countries is astounding, this report and the comments by the country partners should be considered at the discussion phase of taxation reform in The Bahamas."
While The Bahamas has no direct income tax and prides itself on being a tax-neutral country free of estate, personal income, capital gains and other forms of taxation, Bain estimates that the indirect taxation from Customs duties and a cornucopia of fees amounts to between 30 percent and 40 percent, placing this nation in a precarious position for holding on to talent.
According to the 6-page UHY release issued yesterday with details of the study, the average taxpayer in a BRIC country earning US$25,000 a year will keep 85 percent of their salary. Someone earning US$200,000 will keep 75%. Higher tax countries, including those in Western Europe, are taking upwards of 50 percent of high income salaries. Russia, with a flat tax rate of 13 percent across the board, was the most consistently low-tax economy while Italy and France were in the highest taxing economies for every pay scale with France taking as much as 75 percent of incomes over US$1.3 million.
"The low tax economies, not all of which are developing economies, have been able to maintain or cut their tax rates over the past year," said UHY Chairman Ladislav Hornan. "Traditionally, the EU (European Union) has been able to offset the effect of high taxes by offering a wide range of public services. However, tax rises in some EU countries have come hand-in-hand with sweeping cuts to public services." Two of the countries imposing the five highest tax rises between 2011 and 2012 for those earning $200,000 or more were the U.S. and France. Russia's low flat tax rate means a taxpayer earning US$250,000 will take home $80,000 more per year than a worker making the same amount in Italy.
"The first response to the impact of taxation on decision-making is concern about investment," said Bain. "But over the long run, the more significant impact may be a brain drain with taxation driving talented professionals, especially those who are relatively young and mobile, to jurisdictions with more appealing taxation translating into more attractive income. There is a tipping point in everything and we have to be very careful in The Bahamas to take results like this into account because increases in taxation that seem to provide a temporary breather can be a long-term threat to the very economy we are trying to build. Conversely, lowering the rate of taxation may be among the smartest moves we can make to retain talent and attract investment."
Bain & Associates, forensic accountants, was named the Bahamas affiliate to UHY in October, joining independent firms that together represent 6,800 staff in 81 nations.