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Bahamas: Position Paper of the Coalition for Responsible Taxation
Jun 1, 2014 - 11:06:22 AM

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Nassau, Bahamas - Below is the final position paper of the Coalition for Responsible Taxation.  This was communicated to the Prime Minister on 23 May 2014 and discussed in a meeting with him and other Cabinet Ministers in the Office of the Prime Minister, along with Ministry of Finance Officials on 26 May 2014.  Prior to this, the final report from Oxford Economics was presented to these individuals.

As was highlighted in the report, and discussed in our meeting with the Prime Minister, there is much to be done to achieve the goal of reduction in fiscal deficits and the overall government debt.  The efforts to date are merely the first leg of a relay and the baton has been passed for the next phase, which is to focus attention on the wider fiscal reform including expenditure control, the transparency of decision making through the appropriate release critical information, and the continued collaboration with the Private Sector to foster confidence and ensure the continued success of this great nation.

As with all important decisions, there will be a need for a balancing act.  The Coalition has successfully communicated the concerns of the Private Sector, continued to push for greater accountability and this effort continues, and has tirelessly worked to ensure collaboration between the Government and the Private Sector.  Our efforts must continue as there is still much to be done - first leg of relay.


Position of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s Coalition for Responsible Taxation Regarding Tax Reform


In the past week, the Ministry of Finance (the MoF) was provided with the draft reports from Oxford Economics and Ernst & Young, following the economic modelling commissioned by the Coalition for Responsible Taxation (the Coalition) and the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (the BHTA), respectively. The reports now provide empirical information to facilitate informed decision making, and
demonstrate the wisdom of the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in awaiting the results prior to any final decision regarding tax and fiscal reform.

Meetings were also held in the past few days involving representatives of the Coalition, the MoF and the Office of the Prime Minister, including the Right Honourable Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; the Honourable Michael Halkitis, Minister of State for Finance; the Honourable Khaalis Rolle, Minister of State for Investments; and John Rolle, Financial Secretary, and we look forward to follow-up meetings to collaboratively develop a plan of fiscal and tax reform that will have public and private sector support.

At those meetings, the Coalition presented the critical themes that form the basis of our position.

Below we present those themes.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

A. Tax Reform Must be Accompanied by Fiscal Reform

Given the public discourse over tax and fiscal reform, it is clear that the Private Sector and wider populace are not in favour of any additional taxes, without clear demonstration from the Government of improved expenditure control, tax compliance and accountability. Accordingly, the following commitments are necessary if there is to be consensus from the Private Sector on the introduction of new taxes:

1. The implementation of an act that amongst other things provides limits to capital and
recurrent expenditure relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), requires comprehensive reporting of projected costs and benefits of planned programmes as a condition precedent, requires a balanced budget and mandates reductions in the national debt and the building of national reserves.

2. The implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, with accompanying legislation to protect whistle blowers.

3. Improved compliance rates regarding existing taxes; while this is a longer term initiative, there must be demonstrable efforts to modernise the processes and imbed greater accountability for a failure to achieve increased compliance and greater penalties imposed on those businesses and individuals found to be evading taxes.

4. Energy reform must be prioritised, with the appointment of a representative from the Private Sector to the committee charged with selecting an appropriate entity with which to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and devising the structure of the PPA.

5. Implementation of the Gaming Act and related reforms, and expeditious implementation of the Government’s stated intention to legalise and taxWeb Shops....

Click below for full
final position paper of the Coalition for Responsible Taxation.


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