ORG in The News

Fiscal Responsibility Needs 'More Teeth For Accountability Culture'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

(July 6,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS -A governance reformer yesterday renewed calls for the Fiscal Responsibility Bill to be given "more teeth until we get a culture of accountability" in the public service.

Robert Myers, the Organisation for Responsible Governance's (ORG) principal, told Tribune Business that the "only question I have" on the draft legislation was whether its provisions were sufficiently strong enough to properly hold ministers and civil servants to account for fiscal irresponsibility.

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Dpm: Responsibility Bill Will Bridge 'Trust Deficit'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

(June 27,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS -The deputy prime minister yesterday admitted there is a "trust deficit" between the government and Bahamian people that he hopes to close with the Fiscal Responsibility Bill's passage.

KP Turnquest told Tribune Business that poor fiscal management, broken promises and a lack of transparency and accountability by previous governments had created a divide that the proposed legislation will help bridge when it becomes law "as soon as possible".

He revealed that consultation on the draft bill will close this week, amid hopes it can be brought to cabinet next week and then tabled in Parliament "at the earliest opportunity".

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Like White On Rice' For Fiscal Responsibility Bill

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The government was yesterday urged to be all over the Fiscal Responsibility Bill "like white on rice", as it will give Bahamians confidence their VAT sacrifice is not in vain.

Robert Myers, the Organisation for Responsible Governance's (ORG) principal, told Tribune Business it was "absolutely critical" that the government now turn its focus to the bill in the budget's aftermath, as its passage would introduce checks to prevent misuse of the targeted $400m VAT revenue windfall.

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Contributory Civil Service Pensions 'Good First Step'

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

THE government's decision to make civil service pensions "contributory" for new hires was yesterday branded "a good step", although it will do little to address its unfunded multi-billion dollar liabilities.

Robert Myers, the Organisation for Responsible Governance's (ORG) principal, told Tribune Business: "It's a good step, but the 50,000 pound gorilla is the existing pension liabilities. That has to be addressed. The new hires aren't going to affect the big numbers. That contingent liability is somewhere around $2bn and that has to be addressed.

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Vat's 60% Increase A $400m 'Death Wish'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The government's 60 percent VAT rate rise was yesterday labelled "a death wish", amid fears it will plunge The Bahamas into recession by sucking an extra $400m from the economy.

Private sector leaders told Tribune Business they were stunned by the decision to increase the VAT rate to 12 percent for the 2018-2019 budget year, and warned that The Bahamas "cannot tax itself to success".

Robert Myers, the Organisation for Responsible Governance's (ORG) principal, said the government's revenue-focused fiscal consolidation measures were unlikely to succeed unless accompanied by matching "austerity" that reduced public spending.

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Insane' 40% Growth In Govt's Wage Bill

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The 40 percent growth in the government's wage bill over the past seven fiscal years to 2018-2019 was yesterday branded "insane" and "criminal" by private sector leaders.

KP Turnquest, pictured, Deputy Prime Minister, said the $226m increase in civil service salaries since the 2011-2012 fiscal year was one factor that had created "a significant fiscal gap" for the upcoming budget year without the corrective action of a Value-Added Tax (VAT) rate increase to 12 percent.

"In light of the fact that the Government wage bill has grown by $226m, or 40 percent, between 2011-2012 and 2018-2019 in an economy that has posted little if any real growth, [there is] the necessity of exercising restraint in respect of the overall wage bill and headcount," Mr Turnquest told the House of Assembly yesterday.

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Gov't Hailed For Shoe, Clothing Retail Waiver

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

(May 31,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS -The Government's proposed tax relief for clothing and shoe retailers was yesterday hailed for helping to preserve Bahamian businesses and jobs.

KP Turnquest, pictured, deputy prime minister, said the government had made provision in the 2018-2019 budget to "waive" import duties for retailers and importers of these products in a bid to improve the sector's competitiveness against online and foreign rivals.

"We are providing for the waiver of duty on clothing and shoe imports upon application by importers and retailers of same," he said in unveiling the 2018-2019 budget. "This will be extended to any merchant, large or small, who has a business license for the sale of clothes or shoes.

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BGOA rejects suggestion from Myers for gaming houses tax hike

Chester Robards

The Nassau Guardian

(May 30,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS -The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA) yesterday responded to statements made by an Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) executive calling on government to levy more taxes on the gaming houses to relieve the pressure on taxpayers.

The BGOA stated in a press release that ORG Chairman Robert Myers’ call for more taxes from the gaming industry is “partisan” support for a “color tax on the industry”.

Myers was quoted in The Tribune on Tuesday saying: “They (domestic gaming industry) have exceptionally high margins and got away with murder. The people said no, the then government forced it to say yes, and they should be taxed more or we put in a national lottery.”

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Town Hall Meeting On Transparency, Corruption, Freedom Of Information Moved

By FARRAH JOHNSON

A town hall meeting to educate the public on advocacy concerning the topics of transparency, corruption and freedom of information has been moved to the Bahamas Historical Society.

The event, spearheaded by the environmental group Coalition to Save Clifton (CSC) will feature Matt Aubry, executive director of the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG), as well as Fred Smith, the QC of Rights Bahamas.

It will start at 6pm in the Bahamas Historical Society Hall between Shirley Street and Elizabeth Avenue.Drive

Mr Aubry yesterday said many activist groups like his organization and Save the Bays have been "fighting" for freedom of information "for a long time" and still possess the drive to move forward.

 

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Web Shops Blast 'Disparaging' Call For Tax Increases

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The web shop industry yesterday mounted an astonishing personal attack on the Organisation for Responsible Governance's (ORG) principal for suggesting the sector face increased taxation.

The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA), in a written statement, blasted Robert Myers' comments to Tribune Business as "disparaging", arguing that it "already pays more than its fair share" with a 21 percent tax burden."

"We consider the comments attributed to Mr Myers, principal of the Organisation for Responsible Governance (ORG), with respect to the domestic gaming industry, to be very disparaging," the Association said, suggesting his call for increased taxes on their one sector alone was "discriminatory".

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