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Webshop Draft Not Yet Ready For Parliament

Obie Wilchcombe

Obie Wilchcombe

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe confirmed that draft legislation to regularise and tax the web shop industry is currently in the works, but is not yet ready to be tabled at Parliament.

The announcement comes despite Mr Wilchcombe’s assurance on March 5, during his contribution to the mid-year budget debate that a draft bill would be tabled in two weeks.

Speaking with The Tribune yesterday, Mr Wilchcombe said there have been several meetings with web shop owners who have put forward their recommendations.

Those suggestions, he said, will be the focus of discussions among legal teams from the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Tourism, and the Attorney General’s Office in the coming weeks.

His comments come just after lawyer Alfred Sears announced that Craig Flowers, FML Group of Companies CEO, had filed an appeal to overturn his 2011 conviction for breaching the Lotteries and Gaming Act. Mr Sears spoke to The Tribune last Friday.

In 2011, Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis convicted Mr Flowers of permitting his premises to be used for a lottery, and promoting, organising and conducting a lottery.

While Mr Sears said he could not confirm whether an application was filed, he previously told the Bermuda Sun that the matter was expected to be heard within the next two or three months. No date has been set for a hearing, Mr Sears said.

While reports had long circulated that the government would legalise numbers despite a majority “no” result from the January 28, 2013 referendum, it was confirmed at Parliament that the illegal industry would be regularised by July 1.

He told parliamentarians that while there is respect for the church’s position in addition to the referendum results, there comes a time when the government must make “the tough decisions and govern”.

One of those decisions, he said, was ending the debate on web shop gaming by the taxation and regulation of the numbers industry before the beginning of the new fiscal year in June.

At the time Mr Wilchcombe said he expected the Free National Movement to fully support the legislation. He added that he would continue to hold discussions with the Church, not with a view to changing their minds, but to help them understand and appreciate the government’s decision.

Debate on the Bill is expected to begin in May.

Comments

GrassRoot 5 years, 5 months ago

So not in line with Mr. Pinder's remark that the level of VAT will depend on tax revenue from money houses. Wont happen before Jul 1. I mean nothing will happen before Jul 1.

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Reality_Check 5 years, 5 months ago

Why isn't this little twerp being prosecuted for the three plus million dollars he purportedly borrowed from the Government controlled Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) and never repaid? Rumour has it BOB likely wrote off the debt due from this little twerp and others like him on receiving assurances from Government (perhaps through a call from our PM who apparently likes to intervene in the financial problems of his political operatives) that the eroded capital of BOB would be replenished with over $30 million dollars of our National Insurance funds, i.e. funds belonging to the Bahamian people.

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asiseeit 5 years, 5 months ago

Just sitting back and watching to see how the Bahamian People will get shafted once again by the Political Class and their cronies/supporters. I bet they water down the Tax on web shops to under 10%. They also will give the web shop owners an amnesty on their untold millions of illegal revenue from years gone past. Always remember the Political Class is in it for them and theirs NOT the Bahamian people.

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