ORG in The News

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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Budget Demand For More Web Shop Taxes

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

(May 28,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS- Governance reformers yesterday called for increased web shop taxes in tomorrow's Budget, coupled with 5 per cent annual spending reductions through 2023, to avoid a fiscal crisis.

Robert Myers, the Organisation for Responsible Governance's (ORG) principal, warned that imposing new and/or increased taxes on the economy's productive sectors and consumers would lead to "a disaster" and throw all hopes of increased Bahamian GDP growth "out the window".

Yet he argued that web shop gaming was the one industry able to bear increased taxation due to its "exceptionally high margins", accusing that sector of having "gotten away with murder" when the Christie administration proceeded to ignore the results of a referendum/opinion poll and legalise it anyway.

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Fiscal Responsibility ‘Ineffective’ Without Tougher Sanctions

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

(May 24,2018) NASSAU, BAHAMAS -Fiscal Responsibility legislation could be “ineffective” without tougher sanctions due to “The Bahamas’ poor history of non-compliance with similar laws”, a civil society group warned yesterday.

The Organisation for Responsible Governance (ORG), unveiling its recommendations on the draft Bill, said the main concern was the “lack of codified penalties [and] sanctions” for governments that breached its targets, or “incentives” that encouraged compliance.

It also called for the independent, five-member Fiscal Responsibility Council that currently has just an oversight and advisory role to have more power to “proactively contribute to fiscal strategy and decisions, and enforce its advice, recommendations and decisions”.

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CSOs Press for Progress on Transparency and Anti-Corruption Initiatives

The Bahamas Local

(May 18, 2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS- While commending the government for several milestones in transparent governance over the past year such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) workshops, the enactment of the whistleblowers provision and the introduction of the Integrity Commission, Fiscal Responsibility and Ombudsman Bills, a consortium of civil society groups are pressing for greater progress and inclusion on these initiatives and is rallying Bahamians together in a town hall meeting to discuss how to create greater transparency and fight corruption in the nation.

The groups are calling for swift, full enactment and implementation of the FOIA, greater public consultation, progress on the Integrity Commission and Ombudsman Bills, and the development of a whistleblower protection framework, amongst other transparency and anti-corruption reforms. 

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Town hall meeting to address transparency, anti-corruption

The Nassau Guardian 

(May 18,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS- While commending the government for several milestones in transparent governance over the past year, such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) workshops; the enactment of the whistleblowers provision; and the introduction of the Integrity Commission, Fiscal Responsibility and Ombudsman bills, a consortium of civil society groups is pressing for greater progress and inclusion on these initiatives and is rallying Bahamians together in a town hall meeting to discuss how to create greater transparency and fight corruption in the nation.

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