With the new Free National Movement administration setting up shop, news in The Bahamas last month centred around the Budget Debate in Parliament and the government’s policy commitments.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest was quick to layout the incoming administration’s fiscal policy during his Budget Communication at the end of May, saying that while he believed the government’s transformational growth agenda to be visionary and critical to the creation of a better future for Bahamian citizens, he will give the utmost priority to getting the fiscal house in order.
“That is critical to any success that we hope to achieve on the growth and jobs front; ignoring the state of our finances would have deleterious consequences for the viability of our agenda and future prospects for the Bahamian society and economy,” Turnquest said during his presentation to the Budget Communication 2017/2018 in the House of Assembly.
The new Finance Minister later iterated the new government’s commitment to global tax transparency efforts.
In a notice released last month, the government said it had “taken a policy decision to implement the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) by way of the Multilateral Convention on the Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters on a non-reciprocal basis”, and set out a timeline for implementation of CRS.
The Finance Ministry, which is the competent authority in regards to the implementation of the CRS, released information in respect to key dates in the implementation process and a list of the countries with which it intends to establish Automatic Exchange of Information protocols.
The government had previously informed the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development of its wish to accede to the Multi-Lateral Convention for Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters.
In regard to the local business environment, Dr Hubert Minnis’s administration pledged $1 million to support small and medium-sized businesses in Grand Bahama.
During an address to the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s Business Innovation and E-Commerce Boot Camp, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said: “We are committed to shortening the time investments are approved and will be setting up an Investment Unit which will mirror the Bahamas Investment Authority to enable investment projects to be processed here in Grand Bahama. It is our hope that business deals will become increasingly easier to facilitate if investors do not have to go through Nassau at least at the processing level.”
Last month was also a busy time for conferences and events with The Association of International Banks and Trust Companies in The Bahamas (AIBT) hosting its third annual AIBT Regulators Forum at the Baha Mar Convention Centre and holding its AGM.
The Ministry of Tourism also hosted a conference for international travel agents, and another event for American public relations industry representatives, to help promote The Bahamas to new and growing markets.
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