By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
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".
"The domestic gaming industry already pays more than its fair share of taxes at 11 percent or 25 percent of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation or amortisation), whichever is greater, coupled with millions in fees for its locations, franchises, hiring of Bahamians and 7.5 percent in VAT on all its procurement of products and services, without being able to claim.
"As an aggregate percentage of taxes and fees, the domestic gaming industry pays in excess of 21 percent. Like any other industry, we welcome paying our fair share of any potential tax increases, provided other sectors are asked to do likewise... We cannot be summarily singled out and other similar progressive sectors be left untouched," the Association continued.
"We do welcome a broad-based, consultative dialogue on the current macro-economic model of The Bahamas in general, and the creation of a more fair and equitable tax policy, relative all business sectors, particularly the domestic gaming industry."
Mr Myers told Tribune Business on Tuesday that the web shop industry's "exceptionally high margins" left it able to bear increased taxation in today's 2018-2019 Budget. He also accused the 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.
The ORG principal said the proceeds from increased web shop taxation should be used exclusively to finance education reforms, arguing that the 'D-' grade average and poor public education system graduation rates were a key impediment to greater economic growth and productivity.