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Pledge For More Talks Before New Taxes

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Obie Wilchcombe

By DANA SMITH

Tribune Staff Reporter

dsmith@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe has promised greater dialogue with the aviation and cruise ship industries before any potential tax changes are introduced.

He said the government was “sitting down, talking” with providers regarding their concerns over new fees.

The new taxes led to threats of a potential decrease in airlift and an

internet petition calling on the government to repeal the fees.

Speaking at an Out Island Promotion Board event yesterday, Mr Wilchcombe said the complaints were mainly over “the process” and a “lack of warning” – not the fees.

“We are concerned as you are about some of the decisions made recently and some of the taxes that have been imposed and the lack of warning,” Mr Wilchcombe said.

“Our Bahamas has many islands, many islands that require tremendous service and the quality of service must always be there... To provide that service will cost money; and the fact is, we earn revenue through taxation. We earn revenue through causing those who come through our country to spend more.

“But the director general of tourism and the Office of the Prime Minister have been working very closely in an effort to ensure that we’re able to arrive at an understanding so that whatever happens now, whether they are going to rescind or reduce – and the future, will cause for greater dialogue before it takes place.”

Speaking to the press, Mr Wilchcombe said the recent complaints from airline owners over the fees do present a level of concern – as do talks of a potential airlift loss.

“Again, we’re having dialogue with the airlines and with the Ministry of Finance,” he said, “the Ministry of Finance is having dialogue with the airlines, as well. Concern is the word; obviously if we lose any airlift, it’s going to be a tremendous concern to us.

“We are going to speak to the Family Islands, today, and the Family Islands are doing quite good – they’re up two per cent overall, 13 per cent generally in revenue, so they’re doing pretty good – but that’s because of the marketing and also because of the airlift, so you don’t want to lose any airlift.”

The minister continued: “We don’t want to end up in any situation where we’re having unnecessary arguments with the providers, so we’re sitting down talking with them, they’re talking with us, and we’re trying to work through it all. But it’s not only them, of course the boats, the cruise ships, the small crafts.”

Mr Wilchcombe said “the understanding is there” regarding the reason for the taxes. He explained the complaints are not directed at the fees.

“They’re more concerned about the process,” he said. “They want to make sure there is a dialogue – whenever you’re going to do anything, make sure they are prepared for it.”

Earlier this month, Captain Randy Butler, head of Sky Bahamas, said the new aviation taxes were “closing the door” to tourism and Family Island economic development. He warned if the Christie administration does not revisit its aviation tax increases, airlines may stop flying to the Bahamas or make adjustments to their schedules and stops in the islands.

An internet petition is urging the government to repeal the new processing fee for general aviation or face “devastating” affects on the country’s tourism product. The petition, which was sponsored by Robert Gallo, is on the website thepetitionsite.com and encourages people to sign “to stop the unfair additional fees for people visiting the Bahamas.”

Senator John Bostwick, shadow tourism minister, described the increased fees as “absolute insanity” and called on the government to “urgently” revisit its policy.

Family Island resort operators also expressed concern over the potential pull back by the private aviation sector, one believing the Bahamas could “conservatively” lose $20 million in tourism revenues if it maintains the new taxes.

Comments

B_I_D___ 6 years, 11 months ago

How about more open discussion with your citizens? I am sure they would LOVE to hear what taxes you are changing and implementing that are going to have a direct impact on their cost of living. Maybe the 300,000 odd people that call the Bahamas home are not worthy or warrant being open with...keep them in the dark and let the retailer catch the flack for why his prices are so high.

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banker 6 years, 11 months ago

In the picture above, why does it look like Obie is wearing lipstick?

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concernedcitizen 6 years, 11 months ago

if i saw PGC ,OHW ,AND FLYIN FRED ,on a corner in down town atlanta and didn,t know them from Adam ,i would think theres a trio of well dressed dandies ,,,,, and i am not anti anyone ,i just find it a real laugh riot how we go on w/ all that bible thumping anti gay nonsense ; when for 40 years we been watching gay people every night on ZNS and in parliment ,,

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lazybor 6 years, 11 months ago

They will hear but they won't change their mindhttp://tinyurl.com/c7l9ck6" width="1" />

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The_Oracle 6 years, 11 months ago

Ditto on communicating with the Citizens of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Those whom you Govern on behalf of, Not to Rule and pillage! If retailers got smart and showed taxes, whether Duty or VAT as a line item, the average citizen could easily attribute his/her sorry financial state to those truly responsible.

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justthefactsplease 6 years, 11 months ago

It is amazing to me to see that politicians do not learn ... if you do not engage us and listen NOW, you will hear us loud and clear on election day ... your choice Mr. Minister and colleagues.

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FACTSPOLICE 6 years, 11 months ago

Why would any Investor come to a country like Bahamas and pay taxes to a known corrupt Administration! Greed is in the air, the more they collect the more they can pocket for themselves. We are not a large country! Therefore you cannot measure all countries by the same yardstick. People come here for a reason, because we are not like the rest! The Western world is jealous of the Bahamas! Wake up people, the UN has an agenda for all of us to be alike, then what about our Sovreinty! The minimum wage is this country is deplorable, and never keeps pace with inflation. Salaries do not or rarely goes up! How can we institute a 15 percent VAT, plus all the extortionist customs duty rates! NO NO. Bahamians stand up! just how you were protesting for the numbers gambit, stand up NOW! Because right now we are paying taxes, and if we look around we still cannot see where our tax dollars are being used. after you pay your drivers license and Car license fees, you leave that disgusting Government building, and the first thing you hit is a pot-hole, but yet those monies should be spend on the roads. Do not be a fool, because if we are going to add more taxes, then we will be just like the rest of the world, dont you get it that is exactly what the USA wants, they want to see us become a destination where no INvestors would want to come, because then they can say " Oh you cannot run to the Bahamas, they have a high tax system now, just like us! Wake up Government! DO NOT LET ANYONE PRESSURE US!.. We just celebrated Independence....are we really?!!!! ALL CARRIBEAN NATIONS AND TAX HAVENS SHOULD STAND UNITED, against all this intervention in other Countries affairs. We are not saying pay no taxes, but we are saying make it reasonable. If the Bahamas needs to raise more taxes to take care of its small country, then just do a simple income tax. PERIOD! We could be the envy of the world, but now we are heading right into a trap! where we will become a banana republic! People will leave this Island in droves, and go to another country where at least you can see your tax dollars being spent, and enjoy some tax returns. WAKE UP BAHAMAS GOVERNMENT!

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The_Oracle 6 years, 11 months ago

We are not the envy of the world, Our natural environment is. The worlds bottom feeders and scammers are well ensconced here, and have no problem dealing with our petty thieves. Still cheaper/better than their homeland taxes and or prison terms. Yes, the worlds Governments are leveraging each other, and particularly the smaller countries into Global compliance's designed to make the worlds wealth accessible to them. Yes, we are trapped into complying with all these new rules and regulations, otherwise the IMf, OECD, EU, etc will cut off the Grants and loans that Government and the Elected spend/waste like water. We still settle for T-Shirts at election time though. No one asks the hard questions, or holds their feet to the fire.

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