National Commentary Continued from pg. 27 claims been true. Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell has hit out at a “rubbish” statement made on a US television news show by a reported expect in security and terrorism who portrayed the Bahamas as having terrorist links. After facing backlash from angry Bahamians on his Twitter page, MSNBC correspondent Malcolm Nash, who said he has more than 35 years in US intelligence, apologized for his error. Speaking at the 25th anniversary of the West Grand Bahama Youth Development Association on Sunday 29th January, Prime Minister Christie noted that the country is “coming to grips with the reality that in an island community like Grand Bahama and the city of Freeport, and the sophistication of the industrial makeup of the island, we have to find a formula to continue with training.” Our young people. Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie was the special guest at the Monday assembly at the D.W. Davis Junior High School. The Prime Minister encouraged and challenged the students to be their best. He also cut the ribbon on a brand new school bus. Plans appear to be in motion for the establishment of a new political faction, with Official Opposition Leader Butler-Turner revealing that she is laying the foundation for an “organic grassroots movement” inclusive of the other six dissident FNM members of Parliament. In a confidential email obtained by The Tribune, ButlerTurner sent out a call for support to her political base, urging them to “take action to rid ourselves of the status-quo that governs our Bahamas”. This revelation angered members of the dissident seven who were unaware of this political move. The FNM turncoats, including two former Cabinet Ministers, who publicly pledged support for Prime Minister Christie must quickly prove the reasoning behind their move to avoid being branded “political parasites and opportunists”, said former Cabinet Minister George Smith. Former Prime Minister Ingraham branded their support for the PLP as “nothing.” The delayed Constituencies Commission report could be completed sometime this week giving every indication that all eligible Bahamians should register to vote now, Prime Minister Christie has said. The FNM announced the ratification of six more candidates for the upcoming general elections last night with leader Dr. Minnis revealing that the full slate of 39 candidates will be announced at the end of the week. At the Mackey Street headquarters, FNM Chairman Sidney Collie announced: Navarro Bowe Howard ‘Ricky’ Mackey Hank Johnson Darren Henfield Former FNM Chairman Michael Pintard FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest Prime Minister Christie on Monday castigated FNM Leader Dr. Minnis for likening the PLP to a group of “drowning men,” calling the Killarney MP a “minor player” in the House of Assembly who should “try his best to keep quiet” after having his job as leader of the Official Opposition “taken” from him by Long Island MP Butler-Turner. Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis yesterday denied that he was being “disin-
genuous” when he stated, during a speech at the PLP national convention last week, that millions of dollars generated from VAT was being spent on projects for which the Government already borrowed money. The record clearly shows that for the 24 months following the implementation of VAT (January 2015 to December 2016), the government collected some $1 billion, but government expenditure during the same period exceeded $4 billion. Since VAT receipts represent just twenty-five percent of government expenditure, for every dollar the government spends to pay its bills, twenty-five cents are sourced from VAT receipts. The Central Bank financial reports confirm this. Prime Minister Christie, the keynote speaker at the 2017 International Business & Finance Summit (IBFS), said the government was committed to speeding financial services legislation through the system faster than any other laws, in a bid to respond effectively to the ever-evolving environment. As voter registration in the country remains sluggish – falling below numbers compared to this same period during the last election cycle – former Prime Minister Ingraham encouraged Bahamians to register notwithstanding the inconveniences they are facing. Government officials yesterday announced the launch of NHI’s primary care physician registration, which NHI senior officials said is a “critical milestone” that signals the “initiation” of a second phase of the government proposed program. Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald on Tuesday said the onus for recent violent incidents on school campuses must fall on the wider society, further lamenting that officials have done everything they can to stop school violence. A seventh grade male student of A. F. Adderley Junior High School brought a gun on the school’s campus Monday and was arrested by police, officials confirmed on Tuesday. Mrs. Donna Newton was sworn in as Acting Justice of the Supreme Court by Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling during a brief ceremony at Government House on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 Prime Minister Christie this week said the Government would soon make a full disclosure on the current affairs of the Bank of the Bahamas and Resolve Bahamas. Firing back at suggestions that such a disclosure would not come before the upcoming general election, Mr. Christie said: “The elections are not in the near future”. Amid calls for government transparency over VAT collections, a war of words erupted in the House of Assembly yesterday between government MPs and opposition forces that have rejected the Christie administration’s attempts to justify how the tax revenue has been expended. The House of Assembly began debate on Wednesday on the long awaited revamped Freedom of Information Bill, despite continued push back from civil society and opposition factions over the bill’s contents and potency. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially launched its new polycarbonate e-passport system. The launch of the system took place last Thursday at the Passport Office on Thompson Boulevard. Hundreds of hotel workers will be made redundant at the Memories Resort in Grand Bahama after the hotel operator, Sunwing Travel Group, and its landlord, Hutchinson Whampoa, failed to reach an agreement over hurricane restoration at the beachfront resort in Lucaya. The
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Government was locked in meetings Thursday seeking to bring a successful conclusion to negotiations with Hutchinson Whampoa over the embattled Memories resort, with Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe telling The Tribune that based on those talks he believes there is room for a “successful outcome”. Baha Mar’s scheduled opening for April 21 was yesterday branded “a political ploy” after it was confirmed that the acquisition by CTFE will not close until all construction work is completed. Robert Sands told Tribune Business that CTFE had agreed “to take possession and operate portions of the resort” until its deal with the China EXIM Bank could close. It was reported that the Christie administration has agreed to approve between 400 and 500 work permits, in addition to the transfer of existing work permit holders from Baha Mar to Strategic Property Holding Ltd and Neworld One Bay Street Ltd, developers of The Pointe, to facilitate the phased completion of the $200m Bay Street project. Meanwhile, developers of the $200m Bay Street project, The Pointe, are now in the midst of a regulatory process seeking the needed approvals from the Government for the next phase of construction, according to an official. However, Kendeno Knowles, CCA
Communications Director, did not reveal which approvals Strategic Property Holding Ltd and Neworld One Bay Street Ltd were seeking. Former Prime Minister and Leader of the FNM Hubert Ingraham called on Dr. Minnis, Loretta Butler-Turner and others who are fighting in the party to find a way to put their differences aside or face the possibility of the PLP winning the next election with a minority of votes. Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald has revealed that the Save The Bays emails he read and tabled in Parliament were printed out and delivered to him in a “sealed envelope”, adding that he did not know how the documents were accessed. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) delivered a presentation on the findings and recommendations of a local aviation audit to the Minister of Transport and Aviation the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin and senior Ministry officials on Friday, 3rd February at the JL Center on Black Road. The government continues to move aggressively to reform the aviation sector and to bring every aspect into international compliance and consistent with international best practices.
Future of Caribbean Financial Services Continued from pg. 29 And, incidentally, the US has only promised to provide reciprocal information; it has not done so and shows no sign of doing so. But Caribbean nations – and all other affected countries – should strengthen their advocacy worldwide, enhance such representation as they have in the OECD Global Forum and at the FATF, and demand that every OECD country implements the same rules they impose on others. SUMMARY So, to summarise the themes of this presentation. In relation to Globalisation, the only global rules are those set by powerful countries in their own interest. Fiscal sovereignty as a right of individual States is largely ignored and up-ended by the doctrine of might is right. Tax competition has survived in part so far; but the OECD countries are unrelenting in their efforts to coerce other nations into mirroring the areas of their taxation, even though the economic imperatives of nations are vastly different. WHAT SHOULD CARIBBEAN NATIONS DO? What then for the future of Financial Services in the Caribbean? The prospects would be best served by the formation of alliances in every global forum to wrest control of financial services matters from the OECD which represents only a handful of nations in the world community. In the late 1990s, it was an alliance of Caribbean nations with Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Isle of Man and Jersey, that held back the OECD over its socalled ‘harmful tax competition initiative’; and it was the decisive intervention of the new Republican government of George W Bush, before 9/11 and the Patriot Act, that eventually pushed back the OECD. But, since then, the European jurisdictions retreated into the fold of the OECD,
and the Obama administration in the US strengthened the heavy-hand of regulation and extra-territorial laws such as FATCA. The Caribbean should now look elsewhere – to the countries of South and Central America, including Panama, and to Africa and the Pacific where nations are also subject to coercion, erosion of fiscal sovereignty and loss of competitiveness - to build alliances to counter the domination of global rules on tax matters by a few selfserving nations. A TRULY REPRESENTATIVE WORLD BODY NEEDED The Ecuadorian government is right - a UN body is needed. But not to chase after imaginary windmills of falsely-labelled tax havens. It is needed to create standards created by representatives of the entire world and not by a handful of elite countries; it is needed to establish rules that tax competition, like all other competition, is good for global growth; it is needed to enshrine the principle that setting levels of taxation is the sovereign right of each nation in the context of its own economic and fiscal imperatives. Alliances should also be sought with groups within OECD countries that recognise that high taxation and coercion of other nations do not make for a prosperous world or a peaceful one. That, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, the world will not survive half-free, and half-enslaved. There would be good reason for other developing nations and groups within OECD countries to join the Caribbean in such an undertaking. For, the small are the bully’s first victim; they are seldom the last. Thank you. Responses and previous commentaries: www.sirronaldsanders.com