Categorized | National News

Country Pushed Towards Tax Reform

Getting the country’s finances in order will require major tax reform, otherwise The Bahamas risks finding its national debt increasing astronomically, said two leading financial experts on Wednesday.

CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Winston Rolle and economist Rupert Pinder both agree that steps must be taken toward major reform.

The two were special guests on Love 97’s daily talk show, “Issues of Day” where they expressed concerns about government spending outperforming its revenue intake.

“In this fiscal year, we are projected to have a fiscal deficit approaching $700 million. What that means is that our spending has exceeded our tax revenue by close to $700 million, so over a two-year period, we are going to be adding conservatively $1.4 million to the national debt,” said Mr. Pinder.

The Bahamas looks to make its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which means the country will not have the luxury of enforcing high tariffs for imports that essentially benefit local manufacturers.

And while removing tariffs is supposed to level the playing field, Mr. Rolle noted that with these tariffs gone, the government will lose a significant portion of its revenue.

“The Bahamas is not really a major manufacturer or exporter of goods; therefore, your ability to negotiate with someone who purchases the majority of your goods is limited,” he said.

“Our initial WTO offering was to maintain an average import rate of about 35 per cent and that was very quickly rejected. It needs to be in the range of seven per cent to 15 per cent and so we’re talking about a significant impact on government revenue rate if we reduced our average import rate.”

The issue of tax reform will take centre stage during an upcoming National Tax Symposium aimed at educating Bahamians about the various forms of potential taxations that may soon be imposed in the country.

Among the issues to be looked are the imposition of a sales, value added and income taxes.

Mr. Rolle said at this point even while there is heavy political opposition to an income tax, all options must remain on the table.

“We are trying to have an open discussion to look at all the options because just how both parties support VAT’s, both of them have categorically exclaimed that they will not look at income tax. But who’s to say that’s not the right thing to do,” said Mr. Pinder.

The National Tax Symposium takes place October 25 and 26 at the College of The Bahamas (COB).

Written by Jones Bahamas

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Watch JCN Channel 14 Shows

Jcn Channel 14

Sign in now to see your channels and recommendations!

Join Us on Facebook