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EARTHCARE is very concerned by the revelations in the press regarding the development plans for Bimini. Several Environmental Organizations have been trying to find out if there is an Environmental Impact Assessment completed for the proposed development. The most recent entity to assume control of the former "Bimini Bay Resort", the Genting Group, a Malaysian conglomerate has renamed the project, Resorts World Bimini.
EARTHCARE is a proponent of Sustainable Development. The proposed plans for the cruise ship terminal are not sustainable by any stretch of the imagination. EARTHCARE Founder, Gail Woon said, "Who begins operating a cruise ship without a place to dock it, in place first? The plans are to build the 1,000 foot long jetty along with a 6 acre island for a cruise ship terminal over a very sensitive ecological oceanic habitat. The cruise ship is operating and the developer is in a hurry to have the terminal constructed.
"In my mind, it is beyond belief to think that the authorities in charge of Bahamian resources would allow for endangered coral reefs to be for all intents and purposes destroyed. We have seen video footage of the construction of the terminal in progress. We need to see the Permits if this construction has been approved. If it has been approved, was it by Central Government or the Local Government in Bimini? From our investigations, there have been no Town Meetings in Bimini to let the stakeholders, Biminites, know what the development plans are for their islands. If there is an Environmental Impact Assessment done, why is it not posted on the BEST (Bahamas Environment Science and Technology) Commission website for all and sundry to peruse?"
"We have seen the better plan for Bimini proposed by the Bimini Blue Coalition involving using smaller vessels that can dock at the existing Government Dock. This would allow for the cruise ship passengers to experience the culture of Bimini. This would give ground transportation professionals to be able to share a piece of the prosperity. This would allow the cruise ship passengers to see the straw market and Museum."
With the recent letter sent out to second homeowners on Eleuthera, an old debate has been given new life.
There are those who don't want to "offend" the second homeowners who are seen to bring money to the islands in the form of tourism, but this hotel guest tax is passed on to the guest, which is then passed on to our community.
The amount of rooms now available for rent via the second homeowner market far exceeds the number of actual hotel rooms on the island and as such, those rooms should be seen as a "hotel" in itself.
For far too long, second homeowners have not been licensed and not paid hotel guest tax as required by law. Some of them have been told by website owners that they don't have to pay it "because they will never get caught"or the "Bahamian government will never get it together enough to enforce the law."
As we are staring down the face of VAT, it is time to take control and enforce the laws that we already have. We are leaving so much money on the table right now, and it is time to wake up. It is important for the community and it is the law.
Back to the topic of second home rentals, a few non-Bahamians set up websites and convinced homeowners to list their properties on Eleuthera. Although this is illegal, according to Bahamian law, these extremely successful operations have flourished because no local person has had the wherewithal to create a competitor and our government, whether by inattentiveness or by design, looked the other way.
According to several sources, one site is generating in excess of $300,000 [a] month in rental income, netting its operator $30,000 in commission per month. The fine alone for the properties listed on one website amounts to $7.9 million for just the year 2013. There needs to be accountability both on the part of the government, the homeowners and the locals. The time for blaming others has to end. This is no one's fault and everyone's fault.
The law since 2009 states that any property that rents out one bedroom or more must be licensed and must pay hotel guest tax. This tax is 10 percent and is passed onto the guest and then forwarded to the government at the end of the month.
The form is extremely simple to fill out and many people pay their hotel taxes in cash at the administrator's office. The more difficult part is getting licensed. In order to be licensed, the home will need to be inspected, and many second homes that are in the rental pool will not pass that inspection.
Sure, the homes that rent out for $15,000 [a] week will probably pass inspection but those that rent for less might have deferred maintenance, which will preclude passing the inspection. Does every room have a smoke detector? Do you have fire extinguishers (inspected and tagged) by each stove? Do you have a pest control contract? Do you have reliable power and clean water? Do your air conditioners work? Do you have doors that lock? Do you have either phone or Internet that is on? Those are just some of the things that homeowners will need to comply with to get licensed and I venture to guess that many will not pass.
Having homes inspected will ensure that many of the guest complaints will cease because most of them have to do with cleanliness, lack of water, AC, power and lack of security. We have all heard about the filthy homes, robberies, lack of clean water and lack of guest services at rental homes. This is not just a problem of the homeowners and their renters, this problem affects all of us.
The money collected from hotel guest taxes is shared between the local government and Nassau, 50/50. The estimated amount of guest tax not collected from rentals since the beginning of 2013 is over $100,000. Sure, it is probably a lot more, but do you think that our settlement could use $50,000?
The claim that the online rental service providers have increased tourism to our island is false, according to United Airlines, American Airlines, Ministry of Tourism and Expedia. The guests are simply being diverted from local hotels and inns to rental homes.
Again, it is illegal for non-Bahamians to transact any real estate business, whether they are in the United States or any other country. The homeowners who list their properties for rent with anyone who is not Bahamian are breaking the law. Some of the website owners try to subvert the law by using a Bahamian shill and some don't even do that, going so far as to boast that the Bahamian government will do nothing to stop them.
This is a problem for all of us. If you own a home and receive rental income, you need to be licensed and registered and you need to pay hotel guest tax. Period.If you have a child who is being educated in one of our schools, you are affected by the lack of money going back into our community. If you are a non-Bahamian website owner, you are in violation of Bahamian law and you have misrepresented yourself to your clients.
I have heard from many homeowners that they were told not to register and not to pay hotel guest tax because the government wouldn't do anything about it. Whoever has said that should be ashamed and should be held accountable.
The hotel guest tax is just another piece of the puzzle. Are we going to protect and care for our country or are we going to rape her and destroy her for today's gains?
If you are buying crawfish out of season, if you are doing shoddy work, if you are not caring for an animal, if you are charging someone too much, if you are being rude to tourists and if you are looking the other way while your neighbor takes a "payment", you are part of the problem.
Are we a nation of talkers or doers? All of these things take care and action on our part. The problem is not only the homeowners, the problem is all of us for being too lazy to enforce the law and for allowing there to be a hole in the market that needs to be filled.
Any Bahamian could do the same thing that the website owners are doing, but will we do the work or will we sit back and blame others for our lack of prosperity? -- Concerned Citizens
It's not your regular gym workout, in fact, it's not even a gym. Dabox is the newest training facility in New Providence, that comes with a different twist.
There's no need to worry about struggling while doing bench presses because there are no benches, cardio machines, exercise bikes or stairmasters to climb in Dabox. Trainer Charles Johnson is promising a pleasant surprise with fast results for those walking into the cubical training facility, located in the Airport Industrial Park. Johnson, who is also a trainer with G-Fit Performance, said Dabox is a broad based fitness workout.
"Anyone can do it, but it is based on your level of intensity, scaled to fit the person," said Johnson. "I went away about two years ago and got certified for cross fit, what they call a "crave" of fitness. It has blown up worldwide and caught on in the Caribbean. We have the first box in the Eastern Caribbean. They call the workout areas boxes and not gyms. There are other boxes, but they are in the Latin part of the Caribbean.
"I am a certified level one coach. There are two certified Bahamian cross fit coaches, so far, myself and Tiffany Forbes, who was my first client in the box. We started out really small and now we are up to over 150 members. It is functional training, which means there are no machines. The average gym has machines and all their fancy equipment, but there's none in the box. We train functional in there, which mimics the way the body should move, things that you use daily.
"We train daily at a high intensity. A lot of people are coming in now and are getting into this new training. We have three phases of the workout: cardio, gymnastics and weight lifting. When we blend those three together we get a broad based fitness program, like no other. That's what makes it so popular."
Every individual must complete an online registration form before you can step into Dabox. This allows the member to track their progress as well as view available class schedules. Small group classes, led by Johnson, the certified RxCoach, are designed to challenge each member physically and mentally. Johnson promises that no member will be blinded. In fact, six pre-sessions are held before the member is fully enlisted into the program. The monthly fee for the program is $75.
Johnson added: "When you take part in cross fit, you are talking about losing three different body fats a week. It is a high intensity workout. Once you get in what we call 'Dabox', you don't come into the environment to do your own work out or own thing. Everything is prescribed. I write the work out and program the work out. Every day, the workout is different. You can't call a person and ask them what we are going to do because with cross fit, the workouts are programmed differently everyday. Not one person can say that they had the same exact workout on a daily basis because there are thousands of different workouts. It keeps the body guessing, so thrill of not knowing keeps them coming back. It is a big fan fair."
Classes are held Monday to Sunday, at various times. Since class sizes are limited and in high demand, participants are asked to book their workout sessions a week in advance. The website for interested persons is gfitperformance.rxgymsoftware.com.
Bahamas a 'stand out' at Miss World De'Andra Bannister making waves at world's largest beauty pageant
NASSAU, Bahamas -- With 130 nations competing for one title, it's no easy task to consistently stand out. Yet Miss World Bahamas De'Andra Bannister is steadily emerging as a fan favorite at this year's Miss World competition, and hopes are high that she will join the elite two Bahamian women who have excelled at the prestigious pageant.
From the moment she stepped off the plane in Bali, Indonesia, De'Andra made it clear that she was on a mission to not only match but possibly exceed the successes of Jody Weech and Braneka Bassett at the Miss World competition. Her classic style, regal elegance, and competitive nature have already landed her a semifinalist spot in the beach fashion competition where she was among the Top 30 contestants singled out by the judges.
She did not participate in the talent competition nor did she advance in the sportswoman competition, however her goal is to have a strong showing at the all important Top Model showcase, as well as the Multi Media award, judges interviews, and possibly Beauty With a Purpose award - all of which are yet to be judged in the competition.
She has been receiving a lot of press coverage and is popping up on hot picks lists on pageant forums and websites around the world.
By CELESTE NIXON
Tribune Staff Reporter
OPENING the debate on the Freedom of Information Act, Environment Minister Earl Deveaux said while the bill increases the democratic process, he cautioned against the common practice of using the media, in particular social media, to spread propaganda.
During his contribution in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Deveaux singled out websites such as Bahamasuncensored and Bahamas Press, claiming that those and other similar sites lack journalistic decency.
He said: "The outright attempts at character and political assassination, which have come to be commonplace in our political discourse, are a danger to our way of life." ...
As we all know, technology is indeed a great thing, as it assists people in accessing a whole wealth of wonderful information on the Internet, and is also extremely beneficial to people in business who can market their product or service through websites, and communicate with people instantaneously. I'm the first to admit, that the Internet has revolutionized the way in which I conduct my business. For example: I go to the recording studio every four weeks and record 20 "Time To Think" radio programs. The next day, the recording studio emails me the edited programs for me to check out. Once I've listened to the programs and okayed them, I forward them with the click of a mouse to all the radio stations presently airing the program. My "Time To Think" articles are also sent to the various newspapers who presently carry my column.
So, we've established that the Internet is indeed most beneficial to a whole lot of people. However, as I have stated many times in the past, whenever there's an advantage, invariably there are also disadvantages. Now, one of the main disadvantages to all of the technology available to us today, is that the young folks are so into this technology that they literally can't seem to exist without it. It's difficult for the youngsters of today to sit quietly for a while and participate in a simple conversation. They either need to be tuned into their I-pod, on their I-pad surfing the net, or glued to the screen as they watch TV all day long. As the title of today's article proclaims, I honestly believe, that we've produced a generation of zombies.
I remember well some years ago being invited to visit the Houses of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada when they were in session. I was excited and indeed fascinated as I observed the actual workings of government from the gallery. Recently a group of young athletes in The Bahamas were invited to attend a sitting of Parliament, and you could see very plainly from the looks on their faces, as the cameras picked them up one by one, they were obviously bored to death.
What a terrible pity that young people in this day and age, apparently have great difficulty in just sitting quietly somewhere, as they observe, and take in what is going on around them. It would indeed appear, that without their iPod, iPad, cell phone, or TV, they are completely lost. Yes indeed, it's very sad to come to this conclusion, but I believe, that we have indeed produced a generation of zombies.
o THINK ABOUT IT! Email:email@example.com. Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.
He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms."
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."
- Luke 24:44-48
The hymn, "There is a Balm in Gilead", is one of my favorites. The lyrics are as follows: "Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work's in vain, but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again. If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus and say he died for all."
This hymn tells us that we are not expected to do the outstanding things which were done by great evangelist, or prominent men of the Bible. We do not need to be great evangelists in order to tell the love of Jesus. Jesus did not call us all to preach. He did not call us all to be great at praying, but he called us all to tell of his love particularly through the way we live.
Sunday past, we celebrated Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML) Sunday. The women of this auxiliary arm of our church, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, through the collection of pennies, do million-dollar projects in the name of Jesus. They fund projects in numerous parts of the world, taking the gospel to people they do not know.
In the above text, prior to his ascension into heaven, Jesus reminded the disciples about things he had told them during his ministry: "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
His life and death was spoken of by Moses and the prophets. The whole Old Testament is Christological. It speaks about the coming of the Messiah, the Christ.
While speaking to them, he opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures. Then, he explained the purpose of the Messiah who was to suffer, die and be raised from the grave. In him, humanity has a new hope.
He told them, "You are witnesses of these things." As eyewitnesses, they were to proclaim this good news to the world. All of this began where it all started and ended in Jerusalem. They were charged with keeping his death and resurrection alive in the hearts and minds of the people and to pass that message down to those who would come after.
Through their witnessing and writings, we today follow in the train of the disciples. We are called to continue this proclamation. Even though we were not there to give an eyewitness account, the Holy Spirit equips us to bear witness for Christ. Through faith and the word of God, we bear witness of the resurrection account.
As his witnesses, we are not all pastors and evangelists, yet we are charged with a mission to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to those around us. We are all called to do our part.
The women of the LWML have taken up the challenge and have jumped into action. They preach Jesus Christ through the things they do and the way they live. No, they don't preach like Peter nor do they pray like Paul. Yet they tell the story that Jesus died for all. They and we are witnesses to the world today.
We bear witness through our words and our deeds, more so through the way that we live. Jesus did not only talk. His life was an example for us today. Let us go and do likewise. Amen.
o Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas or telephone: 426-9084 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.
Sunday’s alleged smuggling venture wasn’t the first time captain Jon Paul Costenbader cruised into the Atlantic Ocean on the yacht Secret Spot to pick up cocaine, a federal prosecutor said today in court.
And it wasn’t the first time his girlfriend — 33-year-old Michelle Caribe Daniel — accompanied him, the prosecutor added.
The two came before a magistrate judge today for their detention hearings. Costenbader’s attorney Grey Tesh waived the hearing, which keeps Costenbader in jail for the time being.
In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Pope John Paul II wrote movingly of the value of human life, rooted in the Roman Catholic social tradition's touchstone of the dignity of the human person.
In addition to addressing issues such as abortion and capital punishment, Pope John Paul II spoke to the matter of culture and how a culture influences attitudes towards life and death.
In every land, in every time, the cultures of life and death contend for the human spirit. In this time, in our country, the battle is waged on many fronts, but particularly so in a culture awash in criminal violence and an acceptance of and willful connivance in all manner of criminality by some.
We like slackness here at home. Slackness is deeply rooted in our culture. And culture makes all the difference in terms of the promotion of life or death, violence or non-violence.
Abroad, we tend to abide by the laws and mores of the jurisdiction we are visiting. But many of us can't wait to get home so that we can throw trash from the car window, ignore traffic signs, park anywhere we like, behave in an uncivilized or vulgar manner or ignore basic civilities and manners.
A number of young men who probably think of themselves as good citizens nevertheless see nothing wrong with roaring through this city on noisy motorcycles, generally disturbing the peace while police do nothing.
A 17-year-old visiting the U.S. will be carded if he or she attempts to buy alcohol. Yet many of us have no problem sending someone underage into a liquor store to buy a couple of beers or a bottle of rum.
Many store owners have no problem selling liquor to minors. Some police and parents often turn a blind eye. We like it so. We like slackness.
A dear friend tells of watching a group of young teens walking around in public late one evening drinking from a bottle of Carlo Rossi. Not only were they up and about way past an acceptable hour, they were cavalierly drinking from an open bottle on a public roadway, which of course is illegal even for adults.
The teens were breaking several laws. But in a culture which tolerates all manner of laxity and slackness, they cared not a wit. These boys were learning from an early age that law and order are flexible concepts in a culture which tolerates a high degree of lawlessness and disorder.
There aren't that many years to graduate from those boys drinking on that street to boys selling drugs on those same streets to more hardened criminals laughing at the state struggling to prosecute them in a criminal justice system overwhelmed with cases and defendants.
On those same streets such boys will every few blocks pass illegal numbers houses sometimes guarded by off-duty police officers. It all reinforces a culture of lawlessness.
The spread of a gangland culture spawned by the scourge of drugs and violence of the late 1970s and 80s metastasized over the ensuing decades into the virulent culture of violence and antisocial behavior which haunts us today with all manner of crimes and viciousness we thought impossible for Bahamians.
Our culture is sicker and more pathological in various ways than we dare believe. In our own slack behavior and tolerance for various types of crime we contribute to a culture of lawlessness and violence.
Slackness is a slippery slope. We have been slack as parents, public officials, business people, religious leaders and as citizens. Our children know it and the criminal class counts on our slackness.
Take the criminal justice system. The courts are so overwhelmed that many criminals believe that the consequences for crimes committed today, may be years down the road, if ever.
The last Ingraham administration sought to address a number of the problems in the criminal justice system in terms of prosecutors, judges and courts. The Christie administration should continue to convert existing buildings into more courtrooms and judges' offices as necessary.
While aggressive policing is required to address today's criminal class, there is an urgent need for a program of unprecedented social intervention to address potential criminals, mostly young men, who may wreak havoc on our society in the years ahead.
The culture of death must be met by a culture of life-giving possibilities beyond the death dealing of gangs, guns and other avenues and instruments of violence.
The children of light in our country must summon the willpower, the wiles and the imagination to defeat the stratagems of the children of darkness.
There are those for whom life no longer matters, those not satisfied just to rob but who must also maim or kill their victims because life is that dispensable, meaningless, brutal and short.
A pastor recalls a parishioner who asked whether those criminals who are going about in the day can't see what they're doing to the country. His response: "For some who walk in darkness, no amount of light makes a difference."
But a culture of life and avenues to help others to avoid or to step out of the darkness may make a difference. Making that difference requires a sustained and massive social intervention strategy with various components.
One of the components is youth development with programs like Outward Bound and AMIkids, both of which have shown considerable success.
Outward Bound is an "experiential learning, expedition school and outdoor learning program... that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through challenging learning expeditions that inspire self-discovery, both in and out of the classroom".
The highly successful global initiative also offers a program known as the Intercept Program for At-Risk Youth and Troubled Teens. It is designed for young people from ages 12 to 22 and addresses "the needs of struggling teens and at-risk youth beginning to demonstrate destructive behaviors, as well as the needs of their families".
The Intercept Program serves "youth, young adults, families, schools and communities... at risk of academic failure, dropping out of school, delinquency or becoming chronic offenders".
AMIkids was the brainchild of a judge who got tired of seeing the same juvenile offenders returning to his court over and over. Today, AMIkids is thought to operate "some of the most effective juvenile justice and alternative education programs across" the United States.
To offer readers a clear sense of AMIkids, there are extended quotes following from the organization's website.
"Residential programs operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week with students residing in dormitories on campus. The youth are committed to these programs for approximately four to nine months and can be committed for as long as 36 months.
"The youth reside at the program and leave only for off-site, supervised program activities or approved furloughs. Family visitations vary by program. Youth have been adjudicated delinquent by the court and typically have multiple misdemeanors or felonies.
"Education curriculums deployed in AMIkids programs use differentiated instruction, individualized student planning, progress monitoring, online/computer assisted educational software and experiential education/service learning, all in partnership with pro-social relationships between staff and students.
"Many youth come to AMIkids 'deficient in a wide variety of appropriate, pro-social behavioral repertoires. They lack social skills, anger management, pre-employment skills, communication, self-management, rule following, delay of immediate gratification, etc.'
"To help students develop short- and long-term pro-social behavioral repertories and facilitate the daily management of behavior throughout the program, AMIkids programs employ procedures and techniques of behavior modification and utilize a sophisticated behavior modification system."
Like Outward Bound and other successful intervention programs, AMIkids utilizes experiential learning: "AMIkids' experiential education gives each student the opportunity to face challenges and to overcome them, gaining greater self-worth and helping to form a better value system.
"Programs are integrated based on the geographic strengths of each location and include seamanship, water safety, fishing, low ropes, high ropes, backpacking, music, gardening, culinary arts, reptile and wilderness programs to give each student meaningful and challenging experiences in a variety of ways.
" ... For those kids with more serious learning and behavioral issues, there have been startling results."
There are a number of models that we can draw upon in confronting the challenge, but there must be massive, multi-layered, national interventions now if we are to save ourselves from this culture of death and bequeath to future generations a greater culture of life.
o email@example.com o www.bahamapundit.com.
The government's release of the value-added tax (VAT) draft legislation and regulations via its website on Friday elicited grateful responses from members of the business community yesterday, but several noted they still could not make a realistic determination of VAT's impact on their operations without the release of the details surrounding what changes will be made to import duty and excise taxes when VAT is implemented.
The legislation was released along with a Guide to VAT Legislation document, but no indication was given as to when the tariff schedule will be released.
The legislation broadly remained the same as the earlier draft obtained and publicized by The Nassau Guardian earlier this month, with a handful of significant adaptations including the exempting of all insurance sectors from VAT, and the addition of VAT to residential electricity supplies for those who consume over a given amount of energy per month. The previous draft suggested only commercial energy bills would be "vatable".
A 15 percent VAT rate for most businesses was confirmed, with VAT on hotel accommodation and hotel food and beverage purchases to be charged at 10 percent. One hundred thousand dollars in actual or anticipated annual revenue will be the threshold for VAT registration, and filings will be made on a monthly basis.
The latest version of the legislation, which the Guide suggested was being released to enable "an intensive and extensive public education and consultation exercise" did not appear to include any specific amendments taking into consideration concerns raised by the Chamber of Commerce and Employer's Confederation's Coalition for Responsible Taxation in their letter to the prime minister and Ministry of Finance earlier this month regarding VAT.
Robert Myers, co-chair of the Coalition, which has been seeking to dialogue with the government on the basis for VAT and potential alternatives, said the legislation and regulations were an update to that which had been made available to the Coalition co-chairs by the government previously.
"We're reviewing it now," he said. "It helps that they have released it, it's very helpful, but our recent statement is still valid: we need the (financial/economic) modelling and the tariff schedule."
Meanwhile, Rick Lowe, operations manager for Nassau Motor Company, suggested that an example provided in the Guide to VAT released alongside the legislation and regulations by the government left more questions than answers as it included an assumption that excise tax would be reduced by 18.9 percent - not the roughly 17 percent previously suggested by the government.
Lowe said he is concerned that the government "keeps tweaking the numbers" and called for the release of the tariff schedule.
"The sample calculation provided by the government suggests there will be an 18.9 percent reduction in the Excise Tax and because no mark up is allowed on the VAT portion of the taxes paid at the port, this attempts to force a 13 percent reduction in a businesses mark up," Lowe said.
"Meanwhile, the government is projecting an increase in taxes taken of 21.05 percent. Businesses that fall under the Price Control Act will have no choice but to accept the reduction, unless these controls are removed, but that aside, adjustments will have to be made if profitability levels are to be maintained.
"You've got to maintain some level of gross margin and if they are automatically taking it away by the force of law, it only leaves other alternatives: delay renovations, don't give benefits, or if someone leaves you don't hire a replacement. Or do you in fact get to the point of lay offs? Heaven forbid it's bad enough in the economy."
The government has previously indicated that it intends to reduce import duties when VAT is implemented, in order to offset the inflationary impact of VAT on goods.
In the Guide to VAT provided, the government notes of its intentions with respect to import tariffs: "The Government plans to reduce tariff rates, as of July 1 2014, by an amount just sufficient to compensate for the introduction of VAT for nearly all most products that are now subject to a tariff rate above 15 percent. Tariff rates at or below 15 percent would be eliminated. The structure of the existing protections for domestic manufacturing and agricultural products would continue to be enjoyed. "With the rebalancing of tariffs to absorb the VAT, the prices paid for some goods by consumers after the introduction of VAT could remain unchanged."
Lowe has been a vocal critic of VAT.
Edison Sumner, president of the BCCEC and a member of the government's consultative committee on VAT, said that the release of the documents will enable the broader membership of the Chamber of Commerce to review it and provide feedback that the BCCEC can bring into its consultations with the government.
"The Chamber is still concerned that we don't have all the documents. We are glad the draft has been released and that it is now in the public domain so business people and consumers can be more informed going into this discussion, but we are still waiting on other documents and hopeful we will be seeing those soon. Once that happens we can review all in concert and put all the pieces together."
The government proposes to implement VAT on July 1, 2014, as part of a fiscal reform package intended to stabilize the government's fiscal position in the medium to long term.