January 14, 2021
The more things change, the more, unfortunately, they remain the same!
Today my facebook feed sent me my Letter to the Editor memory from January 3, 2018 on the Commercial Enterprises Bill, 2017, and l could only sigh as l reread it since I was preparing to put pen to paper to address this year's confusion surrounding applications for the Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) Act, 2018 (CESRA).
Here we are, as Bahamians and business owners, at the beginning of 2021, once again sadly reflecting on how the 'ease of doing business' remains an oxymoron, tethered by inefficiency as we continue to be frustrated, getting nowhere faster due to 'gubment's lack of proper preparation, communication, and common sense. As the pathetic cycle of same story, different day 'gubment' dis-service rolls on, the mind boggles, and we continue to sigh, shake our heads, and put up with the crappy service meted out to us!
Well I, for one, am fed up with these constant 'gubment' regulations, forms, threats, and applications thrust upon us (usually at the last minute and mostly due to foreign demands) that have not been properly explained, prepared, nor organized for the public's use.
REALITY CHECK 'GUBMENT': WE, YES WE, THE PEOPLE pay the civil service salaries, so treat us with the respect WE deserve as YOUR EMPLOYERS! We are tired of paying for mediocrity – we demand better – we deserve excellence! So work harder and smarter and get it right - the first time and every time!
This present CESRA application caught many businesses unawares last year when it appeared suddenly as a Public Notice in the newspapers during the summer. My inquiries to several lawyers and accountants provided no clarification as they were as clueless as I was, so the quest for answers continued until a website link and confusing 12 page online ‘User Guide’ was provided by the Ministry of Finance. Not surprisingly, and in true ‘gubment’ backwards and inefficient form, the necessary portal was still in beta testing mode so it was not properly operational before the Public Notice was published. So suffice it to say, that after being unsuccessful in applying following the User Guide instructions, I gave up in frustration!
Fast forward to December when the Public Notice had been published regularly and the business community started to panic in light of the approaching December 31 deadline along with threats of imposing non-compliance penalties (which also led to the popping up of private entities willing to assist applicants for a three figure fee). Since my online inquiries for assistance were not being answered, I had to resort to emails directly to the Ministry of Finance (and I thank that official who responded so promptly and effectively) in order to get proper access to the portal in order to complete the application, which, I am relieved to say, was successful.
We, the innocent small businesses in these islands, continue to be held hostage by these foreign finance entities who we have hooked up with, and we are made to suffer these insufferable forms and inconveniences because of guilty tax dodgers around the world who might be using their substantial income for nefarious means! This is but another form of slavery in disguise!
Again I have to ask: where is our sovereignty, is this really worth it, and why does this have to be such a tedious process? Having had to go through similar but even more angst earlier last year to complete registrations under the new Non-Profit Organization Act – which was another saga of frustration – it really is unfair and unprofessional and unacceptable to be continually burdened with these ‘gubment’ inefficiencies! Enough is enough!
In the meantime, l sincerely wish to thank those (all too few) government departments, such as: Road Traffic at Fort Charlotte, Business License, and Passport Office, whose supervisors and staff members have risen to the challenge and are providing efficient and effective service as they are mandated to do! We, both the people and business owners, are most appreciative of your stellar efforts!
Why is this type of exceptional service not the norm rather than the exception?
'Gubment', please get your act together in 2021 and stop wasting our hard earned money to pay lousy staff for crappy service! Take a hint from private enterprise and get rid of laziness and mediocrity in the civil service - set standards of excellence and use talented Bahamians to train, train, train – from the top down - to ensure that these higher standards are met! In addition, please consult beforehand with us, the people who have to use these services, and listen to and apply our constructive criticism for the better!
Bottom line: lmprove the civil service!