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Newsletter Vol.12, No 5.

TBI monthly news in review - June 25, 2018

The end of May saw Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest deliver the Budget Communication 2017/18 in the House of Assembly.


Bahamas bridge renamed in honour of Sir Sidney   

Speaking in Parliament May 30, Turnquest (pictured, centre, carrying the red briefcase) said that the current administration was looking at a number of ways to generate additional revenue, including a sliding scale of taxation on gaming house activities and an increase in immigration fees.

Turnquest also said there will be an introduction of new port fees; the Real Property Tax on foreign-owned vacant land to 2 per cent of value, up from 1.5 per cent; licensing fees on large commercial vehicles by $50 for Class B and Class C vehicles; and increases to police record fees, fingerprinting fees for casino employees, and Labour Certificate fees.

He said: “Most substantially, the government is proposing an increase in the rate of Value Added Tax from the current 7.5 per cent to 12 per cent effective July 1.”

He said, “Our government fully appreciates the sacrifice that the substantial increases in the VAT rate and other taxes will represent for our citizens.

“But as I have repeatedly said on record: this government was elected to do what is right for the welfare of the country and not to do what is politically expedient or politically popular.”

A few days earlier, Turnquest had also emphasized the need for better auditing of public finances and business revenues.

During his address to the Institute of Internal Auditors May 25, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said that the government is looking to strengthen the country’s cadre of VAT auditors, as well as promoting “transparency, integrity and accountability” in business.

The Ministry of Finance is currently recruiting 30 accountants: 15 of them will support the needs of the central government as it transitions to accrual accounting and undergoes public financial management reform; 15 of them will be trained specifically to join the VAT audit team.

“Internal audits in the Ministry of Finance will not be hidden or buried, or sit on a shelf collecting dust,” he said. “This is an important area that we as a government must take a leadership role. If we set the standard it will filter down into the wider society in terms of the kind of discipline and ethical conduct we want throughout our country.”

At the beginning of the month, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis officially opened the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) for Public Financial Management and Performance Monitoring Reform inline with the overall initiative to better manage public finances.

The project is as a result of an IDB Public Financial Management and Performance Monitoring Reform (PFM/PMR) loan to The Bahamas, which is to increase the government’s capacity to monitor and implement key projects through performance management.

Viana Gardiner is the chief operating officer of the unit and will have a staff of around 12.

In good news for financial services providers in the region, on May 25, the Council removed The Bahamas and Saint Kitts and Nevis from the EU’s list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.

The EU’s list is contributing to on-going efforts to prevent tax fraud and promote good governance worldwide. It was established in December 2017.

“Having fewer jurisdictions on the list is a measure of the success of the listing process,” said Vladislav Goranov, Minister for Finance of Bulgaria, which currently holds the Council presidency. “As jurisdictions around the world work to reform their tax policies, our challenge for the rest of the year will be to see that their commitments have been correctly implemented.”

In a statement, The Council of the EU said The Bahamas and Saint Kitts and Nevis have made commitments at a high political level to remedy EU concerns. EU experts have assessed those commitments.

 

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The Bahamas Investor - May News & Press

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The government has released the Draft Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure 2018/2019. This is to supplement the Budget Communication in Parliament delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest presented the 2018/2019 Budget Communication in the House of Assembly yesterday.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis took part in the Groundbreaking Ceremony of GoldWynn Condo-Hotel and Residences last week.

During his address to the Institute of Internal Auditors May 25, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said that the government is looking to strengthen the country's cadre of VAT auditors, as well as promoting "transparency, integrity and accountability" in business.

The Bahamas Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference was officially announced by Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister Kwasi Thompson for June 20-22 during a press conference May 24, 2018.

The Bahamas was been removed from the European Union’s list of Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions for Tax Purposes following a positive technical recommendation from the EU Code of Conduct Group, which has been formally adopted by the Council of European Union Finance Ministers.

The Council of the EU has today removed The Bahamas and Saint Kitts and Nevis from the EU's list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.

Bahamas' Chartered Financial Analysts Society has won the Global Networks Excellence Award 2018. Watch a ZNS Network news report about this and other business news from The Bahamas.

Baha Mar achieved a major milestone on Tuesday with the opening of Rosewood Baha Mar, marking the completion of the mega resort's phased opening that began just over a year ago.

To effectively implement its commitments for the Automatic Exchange of Information under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Common Reporting Standard framework, the Ministry of Finance has rolled out an international software solution from Vizor AEOI Software.

The Bahamas’ Financial Transactions Reporting Act, 2018, will meet all of the deficiencies that were identified in respect to the country’s compliance with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs Carl Bethel said Wednesday.

Norinvest Holding Sa has announced that its fully-owned subsidiary Banque Cramer & Cie SA has sold a majority interest (85 per cent) in its fully-owned subsidiary Private Investment Bank Ltd to IPG Securities Asset Management Ltd, Nassau.

While progress has been made in economically restoring Grand Bahama, there is still a lot of work to be done, said Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister Kwasi Thompson on the first anniversary of the current Dr Hubert Minnis administration.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has announced that the Cabinet of The Bahamas last week approved the Fiscal Responsibility Bill, 2018 for public consultation.

Plans for The Central Bank of The Bahamas' new facility were unveiled on Friday, as part of its Nassau Reimagined project which aims to upgrade and rejuvenate the downtown area.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization has announced the finalists for the Caribbean Tourism Industry Awards, with The Bahamas being nominated for its "No Filter" social media campaign.

The government of The Bahamas has announced to the business community in Grand Bahama that it will be carrying out consultations May 16-18 to obtain private sector input as a part of its efforts to join the World Trade Organization.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis officially opened the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit for Public Financial Management and Performance Monitoring Reform May 8, 2018 at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Nassau-based data management firm Sunryse Information Management is urging local businesses with EU clients to get up to to speed with the General Data Protection Regulation coming into force later this month.

Minister of Financial Services,Trade & Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette delivered the keynote speech at the Business Opportunities in the Caribbean Region Conference in Miami, May 7, 2018. Read his full address here.

Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) collaborated to host a two-day Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Terrorism Financing Forensic Workshop, May 1-2, 2018.

Representatives of GIBC Digital met Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister Kwasi Thompson in Freeport May 3. The US company is looking to invest a minimum of $2.5 million this year to establish an office in Grand Bahama.

International Financial Corp has appointed Gabriel Goldschmidt as director for Latin America and the Caribbean. Goldschmidt will oversee IFC’s operations in the region, with a focus on strategic priorities such as promoting innovation through technology, tackling climate change, developing capital markets, and supporting infrastructure.

US customers will gain new access to Eleuthera and Marsh Harbour in The Bahamas from Charlotte Douglas International Airport, with year-round weekly flights from December.

The government seeks to tap into the talent pool of the Bahamian diaspora for further growth and development of The Bahamas by the creation of a database into which Bahamians abroad could submit their names and areas of profession.

Minister of Works Desmond Bannister announced major infrastructure upgrades to improve delivery of services for Eleuthera at the 6th Eleuthera Business Outlook held last month.

GIBC Digital, a global technology firm, has announced that it is opening an office in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Headquartered in New York, the company also has offices in Boston, Stamford, Tampa, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The Freeport office will serve as the company's global training headquarters and become the location for its new data and artificial intelligence centre.

The Central Bank of The Bahamas has released its 2017 Annual Report, which contains a summary of the bank’s operations over the year, an analysis of regulatory developments affecting the financial sector and a review of monetary policy, as well as payment systems developments. Download the report here.

Speaking at a press conference observing the 40th Anniversary of The Bahamas Development Bank, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said Bahamians should look to the bank for financing and support.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has said that recent gross domestic product figures released by the Department of Statistics show that there is "concrete signs of economic recovery" in The Bahamas.

Blockchain technology can help Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the Caribbean region get access to capital and overcome other obstacles to growth, according to a new report commissioned by Compete Caribbean and the Inter-American Development Bank.

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