Categorized | Business

Ministers Sound Off on Tax Symposium

Two finance ministers believe that having a tax symposium is moving the country in “the right direction” because the government must form alternative ways to generate revenue.

Minister of Financial Services, Ryan Pinder and Minister of State for Investments, Khaalis Rolle told the Bahama Journal on Wednesday that the symposium “is a must.”

“There’s always a component of taxes or fees that Bahamians have to pay whether it be national insurance, business license, real property tax or any others,” Mr. Pinder said.

“I think when you speak to Bahamians and you explain to them how they’re getting free education and social services assistance and rental assistance they understand that those revenues have to come from somewhere and it’s all part of tax collection. I think the prime minister correctly pointed out that our tax system can not support the level of government expenditure that we’re experiencing.”

Mr. Pinder said that can be seen by the amount of deficits the government has.

“So tax policy reform is needed,” he said.

“It’s a function of economic and social progress and social development so it is going to be a widely consulted initiative. It’s going to be one where Bahamians from all demographics will be consulted and opinions garnered on what is the most efficient and effective way for the government to collect revenues while making it as even a playing field as we can for Bahamians in.”

Mr. Rolle agreed.

“I’ve always been a proponent of tax reform,” he said.

“Obviously as it stands now, particularly considering the reality that we’re moving to a liberalized trade environment, tax reform is necessary. We are joining the World Trade Organisation and we are already part of the Economic Partnership Agreement which would require us to reduce our border taxes so we can’t rely on that as a primary form of income generation for the country. We have to explore what the viable alternatives are.”

Government officials, businesspersons and other civil society members are getting set to engage the public in discussions over the impending reform of the country’s tax system.

On Wednesday, a number of economic heavy hitters gathered at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to announce the plans to host the national symposium on tax reform.

Sunshine Holdings is the corporate initiator of the symposium.
During its Speech from the Throne earlier this year, the Christie administration promised to launch an extensive review of the Bahamian tax system with a view to proposing alternative means of taxation that address the problems of the current system while proving the government with a stable, buoyant and adequate source of revenue to meet its governance obligations to the Bahamian people.

Chairman of Sunshine Holdings Franklyn Wilson lauded the government for making the discussion part of its agenda.

“It is important that we have the discussion and that much is obvious by the people who have gathered,” he said Wednesday.

“The risk of not doing something is sufficiently problematic…so let’s not just talk about it, t let’s talk about it very soon. I do not know any other time where a matter of national importance has been addressed in such a matter and staged by such a clearly identified group of diverse civil society.”

Sasha Lightbourne

Written by Sasha Lightbourne

Journal Staff Writer

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