Concessions Ruled Out For Businesses Who Owe Tax


Tribune Staff Reporter


BUSINESSES behind on National Insurance Board contributions, business licence fees and real property taxes will not be granted concessions through the Over-the-Hill revitalisation programme, according to the Economic Empowerment Zones Bill which was tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday.

In such cases, the minister of finance could grant concessions to them only if he is satisfied the businesses have made arrangements to pay their outstanding debt.

In May, Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said only 30 percent of businesses in the inner city operate within the formal economy, making it unlikely many of the businesses the programme was designed to help will reap its tax benefits. 

The economic zone encompasses Nassau Street to Poinciana Drive, Wulff Road, and upwards the western area of Collins Avenue. 

Businesses in good standing within the zone would be given a certificate of trade and could receive a business licence fee waiver if they make less than $5m a year, customs duties waivers on the importation of commercial vehicles and exemptions from excise taxes.

Property developers would be issued a certificate of development and would be exempt from real property taxes, excise taxes, stamp duties and customs duties on materials needed for construction of buildings and structures.

“Every approved applicant,” the bill notes, “who imports into the Bahamas any machinery, materials or articles with the benefit of any exemption from customs duty under this section, shall upon being required to do so by the comptroller of customs, cause such machinery, materials or articles to be marked with such marks and in such manner as may be required by the comptroller of customs.” 

The Over-the-Hill programme has been a defining policy focus for the Minnis administration this term. A two-minute commercial highlighting the programme was released to social media yesterday and will be broadcast on television. The commercial featured several inner-city businessmen promoting their businesses and praising the strength of their communities.

Before her appointment as director of the National Insurance Board, Dr Nicolla Virgill-Rolle headed the Over-the-Hill programme. The Tribune understands the government is interviewing people to replace her. 


Alex_Charles 4 days, 20 hours ago

I love the sound of this plan and I like the idea of leaving out those that don't pay taxes. I don't like this administration at all, but this is something I can get behind.


John 4 days, 18 hours ago

The article says ‘businesses that are behind on their taxes,’ Not ‘persons who don’t pay taxes.’ And Marlon Johnson knew of the situation even before he decided to go in and put more nails in the coffins of those businesses that spent the past decade struggling to survive. They are the ones who need help the most and in his ignorance they are now going to be denied that help because they don’t have the financial means to make their taxes current. And even a worsening situation is being created at customs, where the government claims it has removed duties of clothing and shoes but importers must’ ‘apply ‘ for the exemptions that are only granted on a six month basis and only if the businesses are current with their taxes. This of course will bring investigators from international bodies as they will want to why this trade barrier is really being created. You have two sets of businesses paying the same license fees and taxes, but one set are allowed to import duty free while the other group must pay 20 percent customs duties, then compete in the same market. But yet government claims the move was made to benefit consumers. Government was warned to avoid varying the rates of taxes and VAT and to maintain an even across the board rate so as to keep the tax regime simple and more manageable.


Alex_Charles 4 days, 18 hours ago

I don't think you qualify for the program without a valid business license. So yes, you'd need a business license, though which inland revenue can track whether or not you've paid your taxes and outstanding government bills.

Also, not sure that you can lay this at the feet of Mr. Johnson considering that this was a core policy idea played out by Minnis on the campaign trail.


Greentea 3 days, 17 hours ago

such policies are enacted by governments who don't trust the people they are called on to govern and governments who get drunk from control they can exert thinking its the same as power - or good leadership. These are fear policies, impediments to economics and a strong economy.


John 4 days, 16 hours ago

When one goes into a disaster or depressed area with attempts to recover or rebuild it, the first order of business would be to throw a lifeline and try to salvage as many businesses as possible. That is to avoid too many outsiders coming in to take advantage of the concessions, only to pack up and leave when the incentives end. So you work with the normal residents as much as possible to get them regularised and up-to-date on paying their taxes and other business fees. Of course this will not happen overnight because many of these people have been operating on a negative income for near a decade and their homestead may be in even worse condition than the business, being without water and electricity and even a proper, hurricane safe structure. Many politicians have ducked and dodged the issue of bringing hope and relief to the inner cities because it is an intense and expensive exercise that will not yield results overnight. But many will be watching closely to monitor the progress.


ohdrap4 4 days, 15 hours ago

they are now interviewimg for Dr. Nicola Rolle's position to spearhead this initative.

you need to apply John, and bring your wikipedia.


Alex_Charles 4 days, 14 hours ago

agreed, John you need to apply for that position or agitate those points in a letter to the editor if you're passionate enough. Otherwise, no-one important will ever see it.


licks2 3 days, 20 hours ago

He/she can't because as I usually tell him/her. . .WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Higher ordered decision making must depend on accurate descriptives and inferences in data. . .John has never learned the primary duty of activism. . .STOP TALKING NONSENSE AND BE HONEST. . .TECHNICAL BUREAUCRATS WILL IGNORE JUMBLED UP CONJECTURES AS SUCH. . . NONSENSICAL DATA. . .IT CANNOT BE USED FOR ANY RELEVANT LOG-FRAME MATRICES PLANNING. . .


The_Oracle 3 days, 21 hours ago

“Every approved applicant,” the bill notes, “who imports into the Bahamas any machinery, materials or articles with the benefit of any exemption from customs duty under this section, shall upon being required to do so by the comptroller of customs, cause such machinery, materials or articles to be marked with such marks and in such manner as may be required by the comptroller of customs.” Now there is a bit of Idiocy, we gonna mark stuff somehow? What, for surprise Customs inspections? When you offer incentives such as these in a country such as the Bahamas you aught to be expecting some % of "items" to go sideways! Investigate and prove, prosecute as the law provides.


DDK 3 days, 17 hours ago

By the way, there is no promised exemption on duty for holders of business licences who import clothing and shoes, but KPT was quick to brag about the successful roll out of the increased VAT on 1st July. The only thing up-dated on the Customs Section of the Bahamas Government web site is the implementation of more VAT! Customs Duty rates posted are for 2017. We are still waiting for the "healthy" bread basket items to be added to the list.


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