Local Business


DPM: Bahamas must ‘prove’ itself to S&P

* ‘Not at all’ upset nation still ‘junk’ * Blames former Govt’s failure to deliver * Nation has 12-24 months to execute

The Government must “prove” it can deliver on its fiscal and economic turnaround strategy, the Deputy Prime Minister admitted yesterday, after Standard & Poor’s (S&P) kept the Bahamas at ‘junk’ status. K P Turnquest told Tribune Business he was “not at all” disappointed at the outcome of S&P’s annual review of the Bahamas’ sovereign creditworthiness, despite having previously expressed optimism that the Government could make the case to be upgraded to ‘investment grade’ status.

Development Bank fund ‘sinking’: Covers 1/3 of $46m bonds

* Just 28.4% of loans ‘performing’ * Accumulated losses over $60m * Solvency deficiency at $31.31m

THE Bahamas Development Bank’s (BDB) ‘sinking fund’ covered just one-third of its $46 million outstanding bond debt at year-end 2016, with only 28.4 per cent of its loans ‘performing’. The BDB’s 2016 financial statements, tabled in the House of Assembly in Wednesday by the Prime Minister, reveal the parlous state of another state-owned enterprise (SOE) that has racked up more than $60 million in losses for the Bahamian taxpayer during its 43-year existence.

‘No cause for celebration’ over S&P breathing room

* Bahamas ‘still has to climb out of hole’ * But Chamber chief ‘fully expects’ 2018 upgrade * Many Bahamians don’t realise reform ‘gravity’

PRIVATE sector executives yesterday said the Bahamas has “no cause for celebration yet” after Standard & Poor’s (S&P) elected not to further downgrade its sovereign creditworthiness.

S&P: Gov’ts fiscal, economic reforms ‘will take time’ to work

* 1.5% average growth forecast lower than IMF’s * Grand Lucayan closure takes out 7% of rooms * Debt to rise through 2020 to 52% of GDP

THE Government’s fiscal and economic reforms will take time to “pay dividends”, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) warned yesterday, as it took a more ‘bearish’ view of the Bahamas’ growth prospects. The rating agency, in its latest Bahamas country assessment, expressed confidence that the Minnis administration’s fiscal reforms will “arrest the deterioration” in the Government’s deficit and the national debt.

Gaming Board lacks ‘oversight structure’ for numbers houses

* Minister: Changes to make regulator ‘more relevant’ * Gaming Board will ‘look very different’ in five years * ‘92,000 didn’t vote for us to maintain status quo’

RECENT downsizings are intended to make the Gaming Board “more relevant” and help it cope with the “seismic changes” created by web shops, a Cabinet minister said yesterday. Dionisio D’Aguilar, who has ministerial responsibility for gaming, told Tribune Business that the industry regulator will “look extremely different from the Gaming Board of today within five years”.

Economist: Enterprises Bill $250k should be ‘bit higher’

THE Commercial Enterprises Bill’s $250,000 investment threshold should have been “a bit higher”, a University of the Bahamas economist argued yestrerday. Rupert Pinder, addressing the Rotary Club of West Nassau, said the $250,000 benchmark for foreign companies applying under the Bill did not match the level of incentives being granted.

Economist backs spending cuts to end ‘major wastage’

A University of the Bahamas economist yesterday backed government spending cuts on the grounds there has been “a great deal of wastage”. Rupert Pinder, addressing a Rotary Club of West Nassau luncheon, said: “We cannot overemphasise the importance of economic growth. You can cut spending until the cows come home, but what is really going to put this economy on a strong footing is growth. I am a proponent for cuts in public spending because I think there has been a great deal of wastage.

Chamber chief urges holiday crime ‘vigilance’

THE Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) chief executive yesterday urged businesses and consumers to be “vigilant” and “take every precaution” to avoid becoming victims of crime this Christmas season. Edison Sumner expressed concern over the “startling” increase in cyber crime and credit card fraud.

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Ex-Miss Bahamas accuses Tourism on copyright, $130k

* Khiara Sherman claims song used with no say-so * Copyright infringed in promoting Bahamas to guests * And Ministry ‘breached’ three-year employment deal

A former Miss Bahamas Universe winner-turned-songstress is suing the Ministry of Tourism for allegedly breaching a $130,000 employment contract and violating her copyright. Khiara Sherman, who once represented the Bahamas at the global pageant then-controlled by US president, Donald Trump, is claiming the Ministry failed to obtain permission to use her song, Fly Away With Me, in its multi-million dollar marketing campaigns.

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Bahamas ‘must reengineer economy faster than ever’

* QC: 2018 will ‘set economy for 20 years’ * Warns reform pace may be bewildering * Warns of tax, exchange control ‘recalibrating’

THE Bahamas faces having to “substantially reengineer its economy at a much faster pace than ever before” to escape global ‘blacklists’, a prominent QC warned yesterday. Brian Moree QC, senior partner at McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes, told Tribune Business that this nation’s response to the European Union/OECD initiatives in 2018 “will determine the future of the economy” for possibly the next 20 years.

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‘Wild Wild West’ web shop oversight hits Gaming Board

* AG: ‘Difficulty’ undermines ‘blue ribbon’ status * Gov’t ‘seconding’ anti-money launder specialists * Will ‘address forthwith’ web shop money transfers

THE Gaming Board’s “blue ribbon” reputation has been hurt by taking on regulation of the “Wild Wild West” web shop sector, the Attorney General said yesterday. Carl Bethel QC told Tribune Business that the Government was now seconding more experienced anti-money laundering regulators from other agencies to the Gaming Board in a bid to get to grips with a sector deemed “high risk”.

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Bahamas ‘shooting ourselves in foot’ on insurance regulation

* Bahamas ‘going beyond’ AML standard * AG: ‘We’ll give general insurers one year’ * Fears captive revival undermined

FEARS were raised again yesterday that the Bahamas could be “shooting ourselves in the foot” by including general and captive insurers within its anti-money laundering regime. Emmanuel Komolafe, the Bahamas Insurance Association’s (BIA) chairman, urged the Government to provide the “benchmarking” studies and data to support its decision to define both market segments as financial institutions under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act (FTRA).

Governor targeting ‘Caribbean lead’ in finance crime fight

* Bahamas must ‘aspire’ to ‘low medium’ rating * Central Bank goes to ‘continuous’ AML watch * Moving to address CFATF deficiencies

THE Central Bank’s governor yesterday said the Bahamas needs to target “a Caribbean leadership position” by reducing its financial crime risk profile to a ‘low medium’ ranking. John Rolle, responding to Tribune Business questions following the release of the Central Bank’s new anti-money laundering/counter terror financing strategy, said the move to “continuous” supervision of such risks would address one of the deficiencies identified in the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s (CFATF) assessment of the Bahamas.

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PM: ‘No time to rest on laurels’ over EU

THE Prime Minister yesterday said the Bahamas has “no time to rest on our laurels”, given the European Union’s (EU) concerns over the absence of corporate income taxation. Dr Hubert Minnis told the House of Assembly that the EU’s Code of Conduct group had written to the Government expressing concerns that this nation’s tax system did not comply with its ‘blacklisting’ criteria.

Bahamas faces major tax, exchange control shake-up

The Bahamas may have to completely overhaul its corporate and taxation structure to escape European Union/OECD ‘blacklisting’ threats, the Attorney General revealed yesterday.