Categorized | National News

House Passes Entities Reporting Bill

The government and opposition yesterday put differences aside and spoke with one voice on a critical piece of legislation for the financial services industry. 

The two sides both agreed to support the passing of a Multi-National Entities Reporting Bill to satisfy another requirement of the European Union’s Code of Conduct Group – the same group behind the country’s blacklisting this past March.

Fulfilling those requirements would assure the group of The Bahamas’ commitment to compliance.

According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, K. Peter Turnquest, the government’s action plan includes the Bill. 

“If a multi-national enterprise is incorporated in The Bahamas, it has an obligation,  if it meets the consolidated threshold of all its operations, of $850 million dollars a year to report to the competent authority it activities which will be laid out,” Turnquest said. 

“Again you can surmise, this is an effort  of  the European Union  to ensure that taxes that are legitimately earned in their states, in a taxing jurisdiction are captured,  that operations are not centered in The Bahamas for the sole purpose of avoiding or limiting taxation,” he added.

The entity  requires  a country by country report and as with any law, there are penalties. For instance, knowingly providing inaccurate information would lead to a $5,000 penalty. 

The Finance Minister  stressed the importance of The Bahamas demonstrating that it is a legitimate International Financial Centre that is transparent and adheres to best practices.

“The Bahamas can no longer afford to follow the developments in the developed economy or to follow the actions of our competitors in the region. 

“If we are truly going to be able to maintain our standing, to be competitive and to gain new business, we are going to have to be pacesetters, and we’re going to have to lead the way.”

“There’s no doubt  that there’s risk; there’s always risk in being the leaders in any industry, but the truth of the matter is that standing still and hoping that closing our eyes, hoping that the world will go by and not notice us is not an option,” Turnquest said. 

Shadow Finance Minister, I. Chester Cooper, reaffirmed the opposition’s bi-partisan approach to financial services, as long as there is extensive consultation. 

“Firstly, I’m committed to bi-partisan stands on financial services matter, so long as there is extensive industry consultation and there’s nothing that stands out as obviously reckless.

“Being satisfied that there was such meaningful consultation, I will support the Bill,” Cooper said.

“With this in mind, I call on the government to outline, what commitments were made to the European Union in response to the recent blacklisting.

“I call on the Minister to lay on the table the list of EU demands and its Implementation  and  Action Plan,” he added.

“Whilst I support the bill, whilst I support our efforts to co-exist in a global environment where the rules are inherently unfair; as a country we must collaborate with our counterpart small country international financial centers to not only gauge and benchmark our responses but to negotiate as a block where it’s appropriate to do so. 

“We must also up-staff our technical presence in embassies and consulates abroad so that they can more effectively make diplomatic interventions on our behalf.”

The Bahamas was blacklisted in March, a decision the government maintains was unwarranted, considering its level of engagement with the EU’s Code of Conduct Group.

After intense verbal, written, as well as in person communication, there was the recommendation to remove The Bahamas from that list during the group’s next formal meeting on May 27, 2018, and the government is hopeful this will happen. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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