ORG in The News

Budget Demand For More Web Shop Taxes

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

[email protected]

(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

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(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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Chief Wto Negotiator: Business Reform Must 'Move A Lot Quicker'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

[email protected]

The Bahamas' chief WTO negotiator yesterday backed calls for "ease of business" reforms to move "a lot quicker", but reiterated this was no reason to delay the planned 2019 accession.

Raymond Winder told Tribune Business that obtaining full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership needed to work in "parallel" with improving The Bahamas' business processes and systems, as the Government is doing.

He acknowledged that The Bahamas' "historical reluctance" to change, and eliminate bureaucracy and "red tape" through the use of technology, had sparked this week's International Monetary Fund (IMF) call for "decisive action" to tackle structural obstacles holding back economic growth.

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Aubry: Fiscal Responsibility Bill a step in right direction

The Nassau Guardian

Paige McCartney   

(May 16,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS -The Fiscal Responsibility Bill, 2018 will be a major step forward for The Bahamas, in terms of its ability to manage finances and govern transparently, if it is done right, Executive Director of the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) Matt Aubry said yesterday.

Aubry’s group, along with other civic society and professional organizations, have been charged by the Ministry of Finance to gather feedback from their memberships as a part of the public consultation process for the bill.

Aubry said while it’s important to understand the possibilities and the limits of a bill like this, it is equally important to recognize that it’s not a silver bullet.

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Imf Urges 'Bold Action' On Structural Reforms Before Wto

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

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The Bahamas will not "reap the full benefits" of World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership unless it takes "bold action" to eliminate structural obstacles to growth, the IMF has warned.

The Fund, in its latest Article IV report, warned that economic growth will remain "subdued" unless the Government moves decisively to address this nation's "ease of doing business", energy, labour and credit market inefficiencies.

"Decisive structural reforms are needed to unlock growth, particularly as a gradual liberalization of the economy advances," the IMF said, acknowledging the Minnis administration's efforts to deregulate through initiatives such as exchange control liberalization, the Commercial Enterprises Act and the WTO accession process.

 

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Ticking Timebomb Of $3.7bn Pensions

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

[email protected]

The Government’s unfunded multi-billion dollar pension liabilities, projected to hit $3.7bn by 2030, were yesterday branded “a big time bomb waiting to go off”.

Robert Myers, the Organisation for Responsible Governance’s (ORG) principal, told Tribune Business that unfunded civil service pensions were threatening to send The Bahamas “bankrupt” unless swift corrective action was taken.

He spoke out after the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its full Article IV report on The Bahamas, again warned that the current system - where civil servants contribute nothing to funding their retirement - is “unsustainable”.

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Financial Council' Will Oversee Gov't Finances

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

[email protected]

The Government's Fiscal Responsibility Bill will create a non-political "Council" to oversee its financial stewardship, with the law yesterday hailed as a safeguard against national "bankruptcy".

Matt Aubry, executive director of the Organisation for Responsible Governance (ORG), told Tribune Business that the Bill - set for full public release today - could be "very big" for fiscal transparency and accountability.

ORG, and other key private sector and civil society groups, were sent an advance copy of the draft Bill on Friday ahead of a narrow two-week consultation period for interested parties to provide feedback on its provisions.

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Economy's 'Blood Supply Choked' By Customs Proof Of Exchange Control

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

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The private sector yesterday hailed the Government's decision to abolish a Customs demand that would have "choked off the blood supply" of the Bahamian economy.

Robert Myers, pictured, the Organisation for Responsible Governance's (ORG) principal, told Tribune Business that the Department's proposal for all Customs entries to be accompanied by proof of Central Bank exchange control approval would have "shut down the dock" if implemented.

He added that the Government needed to "think it through properly" before introducing changes that completely disrupted The Bahamas' "ease of doing business", and urged it to fully consult the private sector and civil society on such matters beforehand

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