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‘We Need To Know Source Of The Money’

FINANCE Minister K Peter Turnquest.

FINANCE Minister K Peter Turnquest.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

FINANCE Minister K Peter Turnquest defended government’s intention to legislate non-profit organisations insisting yesterday the Minnis administration is simply seeking to ensure transparency while safeguarding the country against international risks.

As the Non-Profit Organisations Bill 2018 seeks to regulate these groups, Mr Turnquest was adamant the government did not want to overly interfere or monitor their activities.

The bill was part of a compendium of financial services bills the government seeks to pass to further comply with international tax standards.

The deputy prime minister said without this legislative protection for NPOs, the Bahamas could be made more vulnerable to money laundering, corruption, cyber-crimes, human trafficking, financing or terrorism or the proliferation or financing of weapons of mass destruction.

His defence came the day after Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander told Guardian Business it was a shame the government wanted to pass the NPO Bill without considering the concerns of the church.

However, Progressive Liberal Party Deputy Leader Chester Cooper questioned how the government could legislate NPOs while turning a blind eye to political organisations and their campaign finances. In this regard Mr Cooper said he did not understand why this level of disclosure was required from these groups.

“Now, Mr Speaker, there are those who (have) raised concern about having to register, having to file financial statements to show that they are operating within the guidelines and the mandate of their organising documents,” Mr Turnquest told the House of Assembly.

“Now let me state for the record that it is not the intent of the government to interfere or to monitor other than for defined purposes the activities of any organisation be it religious, civic (or) social. That is not the intent of this bill.

“The overriding objective of this bill is to provide for regulations to ensure that non-profit organisations are operating in a transparent manner and are not engaged in activities, which constitute an identified risk as defined in the Proceeds of Crime Act – Ch 93, namely activities involving corruption, cyber-crimes, human trafficking, money laundering, or financing of terrorism or proliferation or financing of weapons of mass destruction.”

He continued: “Now some may say for the sake of that argument, ‘I’m just a little charity organisation that provides a feeding centre for indigent people in the community I don’t know anything about financing, I’m not involved with anyone that is questionable as far as I am aware. We receive donations and we used those donations for the purpose as established.’ I suspect that 100 percent of our organisations would be so subscribed. This bill though is intended to help ensure that no act be it domestic or international comes to the Bahamas, establishes a non-profit organisation, or knowingly or unknowingly utilises an existing non-profit organisation to run them or to conceal the proceeds of crime.

“It can happen, Mr Speaker, because many organisations receive donations. Some receive donations from around the world and a lot of times we don’t necessarily know the background of those persons who are sending you donations. This is not concerning your $100, your $1,000 or your $10,000 donations. This is concerned with your large donations and so this is not about trying to identify or expose the affairs of any organisation. It is intended to ensure transparency in the plight against illicit activities.”

State Legal Affairs Minister Elsworth Johnson agreed the government did not want to monitor organisations’ balance sheets or carry out a witch hunt for anyone.

He said as the country invites thousands of companies and millions within its borders, there was an obligation to ensure standards were fit and proper to protect the Bahamas’ reputation and sovereignty.

For his part, Mr Cooper said the new law will be very unpopular.

He said: “About this bill, I don’t quite understand some of the logic.

“Mind you, I do understand the international pressure to regulate unincorporated organisations, and I don’t really get the scepticism with our religious organisations, but I’m really strained to understand why non-profit companies are seemingly being required to re-register under this law.

“Non-profit companies like the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, of which I’m a past president, and Bahamas Faith Ministries International and many others, are already subject to additional scrutiny and the direct approval of the attorney general as required by our existing Companies Act. Is government asking non-profit companies to duplicate their regulatory requirements by registering under both acts?

“Asking non-profit companies and all non-profit organisations to identify their assets on a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement does away with any semblance of confidentiality.

“This is a completely new paradigm for the Bahamas, which will, honestly, be very unpopular and be met with much push back from non-profits and, in particular, the churches who will view this as a severe and sudden intrusion. Some might likely see it as a suppression of small churches which are the bedrock of some small communities. I do need to understand why this level of disclosure is needed by non-profits,” the Exuma and Ragged Island MP said yesterday.

Comments

joeblow 1 week, 2 days ago

Why are we allowing external forces to govern or rather bully this country in this way? We elected people to do what is best for the people of this country, not our foreign masters!

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The_Oracle 1 week, 2 days ago

We long ago gave up our "Fiscal sovereignty" by borrowing from anyone who would lend. Our culture of secrecy and Fronting works directly against "transparency" in as much as our "plantation control mentality" works against economic prosperity. "State Legal Affairs Minister Elsworth Johnson agreed the government did not want to monitor organisations’ balance sheets or carry out a witch hunt for anyone." With a strong history of exactly this, is it any wonder why Organizations and Businesses fear it at worst and do not trust it universally? Government is data mining for revenue, by any means possible, including new tax structures. Insofar as they were hoping for a Tax revenue "hump" in the transition between Import tax and VAT tax. VAT implemented in 2016, increased in 2018, Duty to be minimized by 2025 across the board to 8-10% per WTO mandate. And still keeping the public in the dark.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 2 days ago

The EU, OECD, FATF, IDB, IMF, etc. are nothing but agents of big governments whose sole interest is to find wealth that can be taxed no matter where it may exist and with absolutely no regard whatsoever for the privacy rights of persons/individuals. These abhorrent agency instruments of easily manipulated globalist bureaucrats (who serve the corporate interests of their elitist Orwellian masters in the developed countries) would rather breach and undermine the privacy rights of millions and millions of people the world over so that they can get at that one person they may choose to target for whatever reason. In other words, they would rather hang millions and millions of innocent persons/individuals rather than let one person/individual guilty of a crime go free. Yes my fellow victimized friend, that's the absurdity of it all today!

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hrysippus 1 week, 2 days ago

Pastors of some churches seem like they want to get involved in politics, OK but the we need to start taxing them like every business in the country. No more duty free concessions for churches.

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sealice 1 week, 2 days ago

These child molesting crooked pastors all have fancy as jets in their names..... Yea that sounds like a non profit....

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Alex_Charles 1 week, 2 days ago

I'd never vote for one. I'd rather vote for someone with some policy experience or at minimum some knowledge in public policy and legislative matter. We don't need more clueless morons in the house.

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sealice 1 week, 2 days ago

we need to know where the money comes from so we can try and steal it before it's given to people that really need it? Why do you need to know? No one wants to give anything to the gubmint you never get anything back.....think on that then try ask nicely....

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 2 days ago

Start with this ........... Where does the FNM and PLP campaign donations come from?????

That is the biggest millstone in this country ....... who pulls the $$$$$strings of the PLP and FNM

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bogart 1 week, 2 days ago

To begin .....the number of entities ....registered as Churches...should be revealed...especially some estimates as high as some 3,000 entities being Churches.....!!!..Under what criteria does the govt licence them or Register them to be known...called...referred to as Churches...the govt should be the ones to know ....and inner financial structure...operations.....in COMPLIANCE with already established rules....Anti money laundering...Proceeds of Crime...KYC......etc...AFTER....this the gobbermint should then investigate the source of funding contributions...donations....for political parties in Compliance purposes...

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Damifiknow 1 week, 2 days ago

Last week it was the dead man bank accounts,this week its the church!when is enough ,enough

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 2 days ago

Desperate people ........... do desperate things ......... KPT is desperate for ca-ching ................ He is feeling the heat after overspending $100million since July 1st .......... They better do not go through with a meaningless mid-year Budget debate .......... Where is the PAC?????????

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 1 day ago

They want to knoe all kinna tings - but won't tell us where the VAT money gone.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 1 day ago

12%VAT is for WTO ........... next will be national income tax and full-blown corporate business tax ....... by 2020 ............ OECD has us by the balls!!!!!

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