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Bahamas 'fumbling ball' on doing business ease

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Adrian White

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

An Opposition MP yesterday blasted that the Bahamas continues to "fumble the ball" on the ease of doing business after spending a frustrating day unable to access the Department of Inland Revenue's portal.

Adrian White, the St Anne's MP, told Tribune Business it seemed as if the New Year had begun with "the ghosts of 2023 in the back of our minds" after being unable to access the necessary accounts for VAT and Business Licence purposes on the tax authority's online platform.

Suggesting that the difficulties follow a systems upgrade by the Department of Inland Revenue in December, the attorney said its online portal was down yesterday morning on the first full business day of 2024, leaving the private sector and associated service providers unable to conduct essential inquiries, file tax returns and make applications.

While the portal came back up yesterday afternoon, Mr White said he and his firm were unable to access their accounts. While a response, featuring a link so that a new password can be entered, was eventually received the new password was "not processed" and access proved impossible before the working day ended.

"I recall seeing something at the beginning of December that they were having a systems upgrade," he told this newspaper of the Department of Inland Revenue, "which, in my mind, after experiencing everything over the past year, was foreboding of new problems to come.

"It's very unfortunate. Simple processes, which do not require the oversight of offshore jurisdictions, are still hindering us. We're tripping up, fumbling the ball on what are the basics of our economy's efficient operations.

"I don't know who can give me assurance or confidence things are going to improve any time soon. This is up and down through many different types of business in The Bahamas. To start the New Year with the ghosts of 2023 in the back of our minds it's a poor beginning to the New Year."

A Department of Inland Revenue spokesman, in response to Tribune Business inquiries, sent this newspaper a flyer saying its online tax administration website has been "successfully upgraded" and calling on businesses to check for an e-mail enabling them to reset their passwords and access the site.

However, Mr White, in a letter e-mailed to the media yesterday, wrote: "Not even 24 hours into 2024 and all hope to improve the ease of doing business in the country has been shot. The Department of Inland Revenue ends 2023 announcing system upgrades but, on the first day of business this year, thousands were blocked from accessing their account and applying to renew their licences online.

"What happened to 'if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?' Surely keeping what you have is better than blowing everything. Grandma may have kept her money under the mattress but at least she could always access it. As thousands of businesses are left wondering when the e-mail will come, the Department issues the update that 'a definite time cannot be given at this time'."

The St Anne's MP added: "Where has the ease of doing business gone? Did someone buy it a first-class one-way ticket out of The Bahamas? Last year new Business Licence applications could take up to nine months (especially in Eleuthera), some executive tier immigration work permit applications were not even approved due to a backlog of 2022 applications the Immigration Department was still processing.

"This year, top gross revenue companies must submit to an in-depth government audit or face massive fines. It is pure madness. To say the present state of doing business here was laughable would be a compliment. Businesses must now be wondering if they can survive this latest blow. It’s not the economic feet of others that are hindering our progress; it's our decision-makers who are fumbling and failing to act."

Comments

Dawes 5 months, 1 week ago

LOL there is no such thing as ease of doing business here. They make it as hard as possible so you start to think that maybe giving out a bit extra will be worth it. This is going to be a failure just like all the other changes, as the people making these decisions have no real life experience of what it means to those who have to implement them.

ThisIsOurs 5 months, 1 week ago

A system upgrade doesnt require you to reset a password. But only they know the details

DWW 5 months, 1 week ago

inland rev is a joke hiding behind 2 way mirrors

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