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FINANCIAL Secretary Simon Wilson.

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‘Happy medium’ within sight on Business Licence anxiety

The Ministry of Finance’s top official last night voiced optimism that “a happy medium” is close over new Business Licence verification rules that were causing growing private sector anxiety.

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$200m renewable fund eyes summer ‘24 launch

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday said he is targeting summer 2024 for the launch of an up to $200m fund that will finance renewable energy’s build-out across The Bahamas.

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Just one SOE ‘can throw everything’

The Government yesterday unveiled policies to govern a near-$800m portfolio of loans and guarantees to state-owned entities, a senior official saying: “One transaction could throw everything awry.”

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Exempt app has led to 90 percent increase in revenue at LPIA, says financial secretary

FINANCIAL Secretary Simon Wilson said the Exempt App has led to a 90 per cent increase in customer revenue at the Lynden Pindling International Airport, calling the customs app a “success story” despite complications some travellers have experienced.

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Cruise departure hike ‘real measure’ of fiscal success

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday asserted that the 2023-2024 fiscal year is “very, very critical” for solidifying market confidence in The Bahamas with the cruise passenger departure tax hikes vital to achieving this.

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VAT to under-shoot full-year $1.4bn goal

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday conceded that VAT revenues were likely to under-shoot their 2022-2023 target but voiced confidence that tougher enforcement will keep them on track in the current fiscal year.

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Fears ‘non-peak’ airlift undermined spark clash

The Ministry of Finance’s top official and a senior airline executive yesterday clashed over fears that Customs overtime fees will undermine The Bahamas’ ambitions to attract airlift “outside of peak hours”.

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$700m external loan goal ‘looking very favourable’

The Government’s bid to raise almost one-third of its near-$2.2bn gross financing needs for the 2023-2024 fiscal year from external banks is “looking very favourable”, a senior official revealed yesterday.

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'World has changed': IBCs taxed on foreign earnings

Bahamas-domiciled International Business Companies (IBCs) will have to pay tax on their overseas earnings from New Year's Day 2024 in an historic first for this nation, a senior official confirming: "The world has changed."

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CLICO victims urge: 'We need a new day'

The Government was yesterday urged to "make it a new day" for long-suffering CLICO (Bahamas) policyholders amid concerns that zero of the $3.8m compensation allocated in the 2022-2023 Budget has been paid out.

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BAIC, ZNS get $5.7m for arrears 'clean up'

The Ministry of Finance's top official yesterday said the $5.7m allocated for "balance sheet clean-up" at two loss-making government agencies will likely "widen" in upcoming fiscal years to other state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

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Deficit's 75% cut hinges on $400m revenue surge

The Ministry of Finance's top official yesterday asserted he is "very confident" the Government will increase revenues by $400m year-over-year, and slash its fiscal deficit by 75 percent, in the absence of new and/or increased taxes.

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Insurers 'over reacting' on 50% investment 'minimum'

The Ministry of Finance's top official yesterday said insurers are "over reacting" to the consultation on holding a "minimum" 50 percent of their investments in government securities as he refuted fears it is "desperate for funds".

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Gov'ts support for BPL jumps $110m

Government loans to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and agencies near-tripled during the first nine months of the current fiscal year to enable Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) to pay off its fuel bill arrears.

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'Not out of the woods' despite consecutive Budget surpluses

The Government cannot interpret two consecutive monthly Budget surpluses "as a sign we are out of the woods", its top finance official warned last night.

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‘Someone did some thinking’: Petroleum competition push

Petroleum retailers and wholesalers are studying “significant new ideas” proposed by the Government to foster greater competition - “but not at the expense of consumers” - in a bid to resolve the industry’s structural woes.

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Wilson: Contract awards to be published when reporting capacity improves

FINANCIAL secretary Simon Wilson said the government would finally begin publishing contract awards when the reporting capacity of its contract procurement system is improved.

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More ‘operations’ planned for tax dodger crackdown

The authorities are planning “several operations” throughout The Bahamas targeting other suspected tax delinquents, the Ministry of Finance’s top official revealed last night, while their Harbour Island sweep is still not finished.

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Harbour Island firms owe govt $1.3m in tax

TWO Harbour Island businesses raided last week collectively owe the government about $1.3m in taxes, financial secretary Simon Wilson said yesterday.

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Briland delinquency targeted in tax raids

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday warned tax deadbeats “there’s consequences for non-compliance” after several Briland businesses this week saw their assets seized over alleged unpaid debts to the Public Treasury.

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Courier firms blocked on ‘seven figure’ tax arrears

Several courier companies have been temporarily barred from clearing imported shipments over their failure to pay up to “seven figures” in due taxes to the Government, a top official confirmed last night.

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‘Everything is on table’ over VAT health claims

The Ministry of Finance’s top official says “everything is on the table” with VAT-related reforms, which could have raised medical costs for thousands of insured Bahamians, now not proceeding prior to the Budget at end-May.

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VAT health claims change ‘may’ not happen April 1

The Government “may not” implement the new VAT treatment for medical insurance claims payouts by its April 1 target, it was revealed yesterday, with the decision hinging on a meeting with healthcare stakeholders later this week.

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Gov’t gives $115m tax relief in fiscal first half

The Government granted almost $115m of Excise tax and Customs duty relief during the first half of the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the mid-year Budget documents have revealed.

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Decades-old systems hit fiscal reporting deadlines

The Government’s fiscal transparency drive has burdened decades-old accounting and payroll systems with legally-mandated reporting deadlines they are not equipped to meet, a top official is asserting.

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‘Every 100 migrants cost taxpayers $500k’

The Ministry of Finance’s top official has voiced fears that the migration crisis could “throw our Budget off completely” with taxpayers incurring an additional $500,000 in costs for every 100 new arrivals reaching Bahamian shores.

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Up to 15% of property tax bills missing target

The Ministry of Finance’s top official says business tenants must accurately identify their landlord to prevent 10-15 percent of real property tax bills from being returned annually to the Government without payment.

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‘No new tax measures’ for $4bn revenue goal

The Government’s top finance official yesterday reiterated his optimism that “no new tax measures” will be required to grow its revenues by some 43 percent to over $4bn during the next four years.

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Gov’t and insurers battling over VAT medical cost rise

The Government and insurance industry last night traded blows over fears that Bahamian healthcare costs will further increase due to a new VAT treatment set to take effect from April 1, 2023.

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Gov’t battling for $13m VAT on cruise ship sale

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday asserted “there’s no dispute” that the Government should receive a near-$13m VAT windfall from the sale of two cruise ships despite a legal challenge by their secured lender.

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Tax crackdown threat for Business Licence renewal

Bahamian companies will have their 2023 Business Licence renewals withheld if they fail to comply with the Government’s crackdown on tax dodging commercial property landlords, it was confirmed yesterday.

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Central Bank’s waiver drives $202m sovereign debt boost

Incentives that sparked almost $202m of local investor demand for The Bahamas’ US dollar bonds has been “very, very significant” in driving an international debt turnaround, a senior official said yesterday.

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DORIAN BREAKS ‘CANNOT GO ON’: Aid for hurricane-hit areas costing treasury purse ‘$50m a year’

The Ministry of Finance’s top official last night warned that Dorian-related tax breaks “cannot go on indefinitely” in their present form as they are costing the Public Treasury “probably $40m-$50m per annum or higher”.

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Gov’t slashes Q1 deficit by $116m

The Government’s fiscal deficit for the 2022-2023 first quarter was slashed by $116m year-over-year, it was revealed yesterday, with its revenues running 4-5 percent ahead of projections.

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Banks ‘can take more’ as debt drops $29m

Bahamian commercial banks have “significant capacity” to take on more government debt, the Ministry of Finance’s top official has asserted, after the national debt for the three months to end-September fell by $29m.

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$167m BOB payout rolled over by Gov’t

The Government has decided not to complete Bank of the Bahamas’ rescue by injecting $167m in cash to replace a “promissory note” after efforts to recover the latter’s toxic commercial loans proved “trickier” than anticipated.

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Gov’t goes high-tech for taxes 5% up on Budget

The Government is employing satellite imagery and artificial intelligence (AI) to boost revenue collections that are 4-5 percent ahead of projections for the 2022-2023 fiscal year to-date, a top official disclosed yesterday.

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‘Not claiming victory’: Yet deficit is beaten by $70m

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday said he “won’t claim that victory yet” despite the prior fiscal year’s $689.5m deficit coming in almost $70m below the final projection outlined in May’s Budget.

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Top revenue collector eyes 2/3 expansion to 500 staff

The Government’s main revenue agency is targeting a further two-thirds expansion of its workforce to around 500 staff, a top official revealed yesterday, adding: “We have no staff in the Family Islands.”

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'Very small' US hike impact as national debt past $12bn

The Ministry of Finance's top official yesterday said last week's Federal Reserve rate hike had "a very small" impact on interest costs tied to the $2.317bn in foreign currency debt held by external investors.

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Top official rules out ‘debt restructuring’

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday reiterated that the Government has “no plans for any restructuring” of the $11.8bn national debt as he confirmed the hiring of an advisory firm to aid fiscal management.

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‘No victory lap’ as VAT 10% up on pre-COVID

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday said there is “no victory lap yet” despite the Government’s modest $46.2m April surplus due to the continued existence of a likely “substantial tax gap”.

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Health insurance VAT: 'This is not about money'

The Government has undertaken not to change the VAT treatment of private medical insurance claims until a full study is done, its top finance official asserting: "This is not about trying to get tax money."

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‘Options limited’ over relief for gas dealers

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday said the Government’s “options are limited” in providing the relief sought by petroleum retailers struggling with gross margins of 10 percent or less.

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FINAL DEMAND: Tax arrears rocket $260m in blow to revenue targets

The Government is owed more than $261m in “outstanding arrears” that were due for payment from three key revenue streams within the 21-month period to end-March 2022, it has been revealed.

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Law’s ‘inflexibility’ forces $251m extra borrowing

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday hit out at the “inflexibility” of the Government’s own financial management laws for forcing it to seek parliamentary approval to borrow an extra $251.4m.

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‘No disconnect’ despite $200m surplus increase

The Bahamian economy’s “exceptional” post-COVID rebound justifies revisions of more than $200m in key Budget projections, top officials asserted yesterday, despite Opposition fears of a “disconnect” that will undermine fiscal credibility.

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Gov’t revenue $210m ahead of projections

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday the Government revenue is $210m above forecast for the 2021-2022 fiscal year-to-date and is expected to maintain that momentum through to end-June..

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Biggest VAT increase from restaurants with zero rating elimination

Restaurants will likely be the sector that produces the biggest increase in VAT payments due to the elimination of zero ratings and exemptions, the Ministry of Finance’s top official has predicted.

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Gov’ts $40m property tax arrears in ‘22 goal

The Government is on track to collect $40m in real property tax arrears in 2022, a top official has revealed, while pledging that there have been “lessons learned” from the recent New Providence-wide revaluation.

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'Everything on the table' as potential solution to soaring gas prices

FINANCIAL Secretary Simon Wilson said “everything is on the table” as a potential solution to soaring gas prices, including tax relief.

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‘Highly probable’ most of $900m tax debts seized

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday said the Large Taxpayer Unit is “just the start” of major reforms as he revealed it is “highly probable” much of $900m in past due taxes will be collected.

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Gov’t’s $206.5m deal with Goldman ‘speaks volumes’

The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday asserted that the Government’s $206.5m “repurchase” deal with Goldman Sachs “speaks volumes” to the credibility of its fiscal and economic plans.

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‘No issues whatsoever’ on $2bn Gov’t roll over

The Ministry of Finance’s top official last night said he foresees “no issues whatsoever” over the Government’s ability to refinance $2bn in domestic debt coming due for repayment by June 2022.

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Gov't to meet realtors on 'misguided' tax concerns

The Government will meet with the Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) to address what a senior official described as "misguided" concerns over real property tax revaluations.

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‘Trade off’ over civil service pay restraint

The Ministry of Finance’s top official says the rebounding economy will help the Government restrain public sector wages to $660.5m in four years’ time - a sum $10m below the current Budget.

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‘Baseball $31m an unfunded obligation’

THE additional $31m needed to complete the Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium is part of $1 billion in unfunded obligations facing the government, according to Financial Secretary Simon Wilson.

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New tax measures to bridge ‘gap’ over Gov’ts extra $1.3bn

The Government will bridge the “gap” to its $1.3bn revenue increase with “additional measures” in the upcoming mid-year Budget as it faces criticism for “very extreme” fiscal forecasts.

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Govt yet to appoint chief procurement officer

FINANCIAL Secretary Simon Wilson says the government has yet to disclose contract awards as the Public Procurement Act mandates because no chief procurement officer has been appointed.

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Issues finding answers on Minnis administration's COVID spending

FINANCIAL Secretary Simon Wilson says finance experts have been challenged in gleaning the necessary information to determine a true picture of the former Minnis administration’s COVID-19 emergency spending.

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