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Tuesday 11th October 2011 9:00 AM
The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, October 11 · 9:00am - 12:30pm “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” – Earl Nightingale Tick Tock, Tick Tock!!! The Chamber Institute Introduces: Time Management and Effective Meetings The Chamber Institute presents the first series of management-leadership courses aimed at measurably improving the standards in corporate Bahamas. The Time Management and Effective Meetings program is a half day training offered to emerging leaders, entrepreneurs, supervisors, managers, company executives and anyone interested in producing more. It is scheduled for Tuesday October 11, 2011 from 9am to 12:30pm at The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce. Ian R. Ferguson will engage participants with the research material and organize the practical demonstration and measurement of the learning. Learn how to effectively manage your time, execute and facilitate impactful meetings adding to the productivity of your business. This two part training program provides practical ways to organize your day, time and resources in an effort to add to your productivity and efficiency. It also walks the supervisor and manager through the basics of conducting meetings that drives bottom line success. Through highly interactive learning, participants will apply these easy to use mental tools for more effective time management and meeting coordination. More significantly though, they apply them in numerous other ways to get more of what is important to them done in less time, both on and off the job. This program helps the participant find and create greater value for their time as well as the time of their team members so the work environment operates with a higher degree of proficiency. The day ends with live demonstrations and meeting planning three month assessment instrument. You truly cannot afford to miss this program offered to Chamber members for only $79 per participant or $99 for non members. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, register online or call 322.2145 to confirm your spot in this training. Group rates do apply and customized sessions are available
The manager of the Bay Street Marina has predicted a "bright future" for the marina and Bahamian yacht sector as a whole, while proposing a business hotel on the waterfront as part of a slate of possible further investments.
Marina Manager Peter Maury said that the marina "had a good start" and continues to perform well as the marina industry enters its busy season over the summer. In addition to the three restaurants onsite, Maury said that the marina hopes to further expand and is exploring proposals for retail stores, condos and a business hotel on the property.
"From our end, we're still putting proposals together to see what best suits the market," said Maury, adding that the addition of a business hotel would present a unique opportunity for the area.
Maury hoped that the marina could partner with a hotel chain to build a small business hotel on a portion of the marina's property, which would operate independently of the marina and would set itself apart from nearby competition by targeting businessmen and providing conference spaces.
The marina, which opened in November 2013, accommodates yachts of up to 150' and is currently at roughly 70 percent capacity. The marina is part of wider downtown revitalization efforts, and Maury projected that the area would continue to grow over the next few years through continued developments.
Turning his attention to the wider yacht industry, Maury stated that The Bahamas was currently in a unique position within the region to attract yacht tourism.
"With the increased price in fuel and modern navigation, we have a good opportunity here to raise the awareness of yacht visitors," said Maury, adding that the industry could expand by raising the frequency of super yacht visits to The Bahamas.
While Maury felt that the country needed to increase the ease of doing business in the face of mounting taxes, including value-added tax (VAT) and charter fees, he remained optimistic about the marina's future.
"I see a bright future for the marina industry if we can control the cost of yachts visiting the Bahamas...We can really increase the presence of yachts that spend more per capita in this country than any other tourism sector, but that's not going to happen if we scare everybody out of here."
Putting forward a position that supports the view of major grocery retailers in the country, John Shewan and Don Brash, value-added tax (VAT) consultants from New Zealand, have come out strongly against exempting breadbasket food items from VAT, suggesting it could increase compliance costs "exponentially".
Supporting the position of members of the Retail Grocers Association, who have expressed major concerns about the impact on their businesses of having to make certain products they sell "VAT exempt", Shewan and Brash said they will advise the government not to pursue this approach, explaining that there are more effective ways to mitigate the impact of VAT on the poor.
In a meeting with the press on Friday afternoon, the consultants explained that in their view, the evidence shows being a business that is considered VAT exempt is the "worst" position to be in. They added that in New Zealand, many more businesses - 180,000 rather than the 120,000 projected - ended up registering to be VAT registrants. A contributing factor is because there is a bias among businesses to do business with VAT-registered firms so they can reclaim VAT credits, said Brash.
Shewan and Brash were both leaders in New Zealand's efforts to implement a VAT system almost 30 years ago. Expressing their enthusiasm for VAT in the context of New Zealand, they said one of the reasons it has been considered simple and efficient is because compliance costs are low. This is because everything is taxed at the same rate and there are virtually no exemptions, other than financial services and rent.
"It's no surprise that the New Zealand VAT system has been heralded as being the best in the world. The reason for that is because of the adherence to a very firm principle that if you want the tax to be at the lowest rate possible and the simplest as possible for both the public and the business community, you need the widest base possible," said Shewan.
Under the present draft VAT legislation in The Bahamas, businesses with an annual turnover of less than $100,000 a year, as well as those offering medical services, education, day care, land or sea transportation and breadbasket food items, among other services and products, are considered VAT "exempt", meaning that they cannot charge VAT to consumers purchasing these items. Many other industries, including service providers such as marketing and public relations firms that believe adding VAT to their pricing will see more of their work outsourced to foreign companies, as well as a number of tourism service providers, have also called upon the government to make certain services they provide VAT exempt.
But Brash and Shewan said those companies which fall into this category can expect to be placed at a significant disadvantage. A better way to mitigate the impact on the poor, they said, is to provide targeted social welfare payments for low-income families.
Their position jibes with that of Rupert Roberts, president of Super Value Food Stores Limited, who has argued repeatedly that exempting breadbasket food items from VAT will leave supermarkets unable to reclaim millions of dollars in VAT input expenses and could cause many businesses to shut down or shed jobs due to cost increases that cannot be offset. He and other members of the Retail Grocers Association have said they are disappointed with the lack of progress made with the government on this point.
Referring to retailers and the proposed exemption of breadbasket food items from VAT, which means they would sell both vatable and VAT-exempt items, Brash noted: "The challenge is knowing how much of the VAT they paid to buy their inputs they can claim back, and they can only claim back the VAT for inputs which go into making up the sales which are themselves vatable. If you are also selling things which are exempt you can't claim the VAT you would have paid on that input. So, for example, a retailer may be paying commercial rent and for electricity, and a range of other inputs, some of which they can claim back because they relate to a taxable supply (of goods sold), and some of which they cannot claim back. And trying to apportion your electricity bill between the things which are exempt and the things which are not, is a considerable challenge.
"So that's where compliance costs start going up, not by small increments but exponentially, and that's why we've said if you want to minimize compliance costs go for a lower rate and no exemptions," he said.
Shewan also highlighted the case of the general insurance industry, which had initially sought VAT exempt status in New Zealand, but ultimately determined this would have a negative impact on their business.
Another technical point highlighted by the consultants was the handling of bad debt under the draft legislation. Cash flow challenges could arise by forcing businesses to wait for an extended period to reclaim VAT paid on sales on which invoices ultimately went unpaid.
Shewan said: "We're simply going to be inviting the government to consider those points; it's not our role to tell them what to do, but hopefully our experience will benefit them. I would make the point that those quite technical and boring items, if not dealt with, are the ones that can cause a lot of grief. What you want with VAT is everyone paddling the same canoe in the same direction, not resisting, and that requires you to be accommodating in terms of some of these technical issues."
Gowon Bowe, co-chair of the Coalition for Responsible Taxation, which met with Brash and Shewan last week, told Guardian Business: "A lot of the issues they raised were no different to the issues in our October/November report. Compliance costs was the biggest issue. In their case (New Zealand) limited exemptions were given, and everything else was vatable. They said then the businesses didn't need elaborate systems and everything to make that sale was a VAT credit, so businesses didn't have the complexity. They said that would be a distinct difference in our case, given the way we are going down the path of a number of zero ratings and exemption; it would create more cumbersome calculations.
"They also said that by not having exemptions it enabled them to introduce VAT at 10 percent, although in their case they had a number of other taxes too. We said very explicitly that we hope everything they shared with us will be in their final report."
Brash and Shewan were invited to The Bahamas by the government to share their experience in New Zealand with the implementation of VAT, to offer observations on The Bahamas' preparedness for VAT, and to address any issues they see in the design of the legislation at present. Their report is expected to be completed by the time they depart tomorrow.
Shewan said he felt a July 1 implementation of VAT would be "extremely challenging" at this point for The Bahamas.
VAT was introduced in New Zealand in October 1986 at a rate of 10 percent. The most recent rate of VAT in New Zealand is 15 percent.
A 41-year-old man claimed by police to be an "habitual" home invader was turned in by his mother last Friday, police Superintendent Stephen Dean confirmed to The Tribune.
Having been accused of terrorizing the eastern end of New Providence for months, Superintendent Dean said that 41-year-old Clifford Miller has been a person of interest for the police for some time now.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
BUSINESSMAN Mark Finlayson is withdrawing his $12 million 'hostile takeover' bid to acquire a 51 per cent majority stake in AML Foods, after the Associated Bahamian Distillers and Brewers (ABDAB) Board decided the company's shareholders would gain better returns from City Markets' organic expansion instead.
Speaking with Tribune Business following last week's ABDAB Board meeting, Mr Finlayson said that while the directors approved the acquisition of the 78 per cent Bahamas Supermarkets stake owned by his family's 100 per cent-controlled investment vehicle, Trans-Island Traders, they felt there was "not enough value" for ...
A top executive at AML Foods has attributed a significant profit rise at the BISX-listed grocery retailer and fast food restaurant company to a successful drive to "run our business better", reducing costs while sales remained generally flat in a sluggish economic environment.
Gavin Watchorn, chief executive officer of AML Foods, said the company was "reasonably happy" with its $1.34 million profit in the quarter ended April 30, 2014. The same period last year had yielded a $655,000 profit.
The news came late in a day in which AML Foods also announced that it will reinstate a share buy back plan that previously ended on January 31, 2014.
Under the previous program, the company had repurchased and subsequently cancelled 292,104 of its ordinary shares.
"The board of directors has deemed it prudent, given the illiquid state of the market, to buy back available ordinary shares and thereby provide increased earnings per share and maintain stable or increased selling prices for those shareholders needing to divest their portfolio."
The company said that the reinstated program will not have a set end date. However, the board has given a mandate that the share repurchase plan may not exceed 10 percent of the current outstanding shares.
"The program will be reviewed annually to assess its viability for shareholders. The company will commence the plan after the Board meets on June 18, 2014.
In an interview with Guardian Business about the company's financial results, Watchorn said: "We're pleased we've been able to increase results on generally flat sales by basically focusing on running our business better; improving purchasing, logistics, warehouse and shrink and maintaining our expenses has allowed us to be able to produce better results."
As for the company's recently launched Carl's Jr fast food restaurant, located in the parking lot of Solomon's Super Center, Watchorn said that it has been "beating expectations", although he declined to go into more detail for competitive reasons.
"We're very happy with the initial response."
In its first quarter financial results, the company recorded sales of $35.3 million in sales, compared to $35.9 million for the same period last year. Cost of sales fell from $25.3 million to $23.8 million.
The company's business license expense rose from $250,000 to $465,000. Earnings per share moved to $0.087 during the quarter, from $0.043.
Commenting on AML Food's share buy back plan, one local market watcher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he would "be interested to see the price they are working with (to) get a sense of whose interests they are really trying to protect."
"My key concern with most share buy backs is that they are done principally to protect the share price, as opposed to what should be the primary aim of creating value for the remaining shareholders. The rationale is typically driven by a large number of shareholders, who have become disenchanted with the stock and are steadily forcing the price down, below what is considered a fair market value, in their efforts to exit.
"As they note in the objectives, in addition to increasing earnings to remaining shareholders, they are looking to protect the share price and provide liquidity to exiting shareholders. My general sense is they have seen the share price fall from $2.10 to $1.60 over the last six months, and certain of the larger shareholders would like to see the price go higher so they have a higher value on their shares. The share buy back does not mention a price or price range, so it is difficult to know what they intend," said the source.
In the case of AML Foods, the majority of shares are held by a few major shareholders and the company has been trying to consolidate their position over the last few years to limit the possibility of a "hostile takeover".
The company had been potentially at threat from such a move a few years ago when Mark Finlayson indicated his intention to make an offer to AML shareholders, noted the observer.
City Market's Sea Grapes store is reporting sales this past weekend that reached 99 percent of levels achieved for the comparable weekend two years ago, signalling better times for the food store chain are around the corner, according to the company's vice president. Nikki Finlayson-Boeuf said she was pleased to see such robust sales so soon after reopening the location.
Meanwhile, Guardian Business can confirm that the South Beach location will open for business on Friday.