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Penalties For Business Get Write-Off Says Deputy Premier



#TurksandCaicos, April 4, 2022 – You should not expect for the names of the companies which will benefit from a debt forgiveness program by the PNP Administration to be published, instead E. Jay Saunders, Minister of Finance has discloses that penalties linked to precisely 4,334 business license fee renewals have been wiped clean.

It is a measure which passed, strongly supported, through the House of Assembly on March 28, 2022 and forgives $1.4 Million in penalty charges by the Ministry of Finance, Investment and Trade.

“As of now, the penalties are wiped clean, actually they’re nailed to the cross,” said Saunders, Deputy Premier who also addressed queries about whether the list of beneficiaries would be published.

A similar tax forgiveness for those in arrears on the hotel and tourism taxes in 2019 led to a publication of the 19 companies in receipt; the Deputy Premier said this program will be managed differently.

“Every company with an outstanding balance is benefitting, and unlike a few hotels on the HRTT (Hotel & Restaurant Tourism Tax) list, there are literally hundreds of companies on the business license list, which covers four years.  The list can be available to review, but it won’t be practical to do (publish) that.

The business license list is an offer of magnitude larger than the HRTT list, so it’s not as simple as saying the HRTT list was published so the other should be published also,” said the Deputy Premier in response to our queries.

When he addressed Parliament on the Business Licensing Fees and Penalties Amnesty Bill, 2022 he said, “As a bit of a background Mr. Speaker, speaking specifically to the area of business licenses, Total Arrears as at February 2022 for all Business licenses was $2,932,036.04.  Included in this figure are the penalties of $1,395,658.19, and this Bill today seeks to write that off.  The Total Penalties cover the four years 2018 to 2021,” said Saunders on March 28.

This measure, now instituted through the Business Licensing Department, was anticipated as the Government made an announcement prior to the Christmas holidays that a plan was being devised to help businesses hop the hurdle of mounting arrears at the Department.  Some were uncertain whether the promise would materialize, but now it is here and not only did it make penalties go away for the pandemic years, it went back to 2018 and 2019, where penalties amounted to $42,240.00 and $222,816.00 respectively.

“I included 2018 and 2019 because outstanding fees went back that far, and our Government wants to give businesses the best chance at being successful, so we wrote off all penalties.  Not some of the penalties, but all of them.”

In all, 4,334 accounts were impacted, though not necessarily that many companies as there are “many” businesses which appear in multiple years as not having paid license fees and the ensuing penalties.

In 2018, there were 96 companies which were unable to cover license fees and penalties.  Grand Turk had 10; Providenciales 81; South Caicos and Middle Caicos had two each; in Salt Cay there was one and for North Caicos there was no company listed as not having paid their business license.

In 2019, that number rocketed to 574 business which did not pay their business licenses.  Grand Turk had 68; Providenciales with 471; South Caicos had 11; Middle Caicos had seven; North Caicos registered 14 unpaid and three Salt Cay businesses made the non-payment list.

By the pandemic year, the list of companies which did not pay their business licenses grew nearly three-fold to 1,500 companies.  Grand Turk now had 206; Providenciales had 1,201; South Caicos registered 20 unpaid; North Caicos had 48; Middle Caicos had 15 and Salt Cay grew to 10.

Last year, saw the mushrooming trend continue and 2,164 companies fell short of paying their business licenses to the Department.  In the breakdown from Deputy Premier Saunders:  Grand Turk, 286; Providenciales 1,748; South Caicos, 24; North Caicos was now at 73; Middle Caicos was 18 and Salt Cay had 15 businesses unable to pay licenses and resultant penalty fees.

Business license costs will still have to be paid to the Business Licensing Department reiterated the minister, in some cases, a payment plan may be set up to support clearing the debt for the license to operate.

“Mr. Speaker, to qualify for the Business License Penalties Write-Off, businesses will have to bring current their license fees within three months; but Mr. Speaker, if there are businesses that are unable to do so, this caring Government of the people, will allow them the flexibility to pay up their outstanding license fee over time through payment plans with TCIG.

So with that Mr. Speaker, we nail approximately 1.4M in business license fee penalties to the cross on behalf of the TCI businesses.”


Bahamas News

Press Release: Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Bahamas



February 3, 2023 – ILM Bahamas Centre held its Certificate Presentation Ceremony for Cohort 7.  The cohort consisted of fourteen (14) Senior Immigration Officers from the Department of Immigration.  This Cohort was a hybrid of in-person and online learning. Four of the Immigration Officers were from the Family Islands (Grand Bahama, Abaco, Berry Islands and Eleuthera).

Present at the ceremony were:  The Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of Labour and Immigration, Madam Justice J. Denise Lewis-Johnson, Permanent Secretary Ms. Ceceila Strachan, Executive Chair of NTA Ms. Agatha Marcelle, Executive Director of NTA Mr. Terry Murray, Director of Immigration Mrs. Keturah Ferguson, Deputy Director of Immigration Mr. Dwight Beneby, Ms. Esther McKinney Office Manager at the Department of Immigration.

The guest speaker at the ceremony was Dr. Donald M. McCartney a Leadership and Management Consultant with Motivation Incorporated Bahamas and the United States. He was a former senior public servant.  He was also a First Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service with responsibility for the Northern Bahamas. He was also a former educator and professor at various colleges in the United States.

In his address to ILM Cohort 7, Dr. McCartney spoke about having the courage to lead and that leadership goes beyond SELF.  It’s not about you or your ego but rather more about contributing to nation building. He said, “We must be prepared to take the bold steps that would not lead us into the abyss of despair but on the road that leads us to lift up our heads to the rising sun and press onward to the mountaintop experience, which will lead us to become the proud and productive people we were destine to be.”  He also expanded on the four fundamental virtues: COURAGE, TEMPERANCE, JUSTICE AND WISDOM.  Additionally, he expanded on the focus and influence of courage, on the ego and discipline.

The Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of Labour and Immigration brought brief remarks on the occasion.  Some of the highlights of his speech were that Immigration is one of the highest revenue earners, challenges within the Department of Immigration such as lack of autonomy from the Public Service as compared to the other armed forces. He also talked about that the fact that the top tier is going to be retired within two years and this would be an opportunity for many of the graduates of this Cohort 7 to gain upward mobility.

He also stated that there needs to be a complete overhaul of the Immigration Act, and a review of the Asylum Bill.  Furthermore, he discussed the inevitable need for the relocation of the Department of Immigration from its current location. Lastly, he stated that we must tread a delicate balance between enforcing the law and being humane, in regards to shanty towns.

It is noteworthy that the ILM Centre at the National Training Agency recently obtained a Centre upgrade.  The ILM Centre Bahamas now hold the statue of Direct Claim Status with City and Guilds of London. Additionally, the Centre is now registered with the National Accreditation and Equivalency Council of the Bahamas (NAECOB) for all of its current course offerings. The ILM Department is lead Miss Pamela Gomez as the ILM Centre Coordinator. Registration is now open for Level 2 Certificate in Leadership and Team Skill and Level 3 Certificate in Leadership and Management. Our mission statement is, “Helping people, organizations, and economies develop their skills for growth.”

For more information, contact the ILM Centre Bahamas located in the Gladstone Road Business Centre by calling 461-6021 or 461-6008.

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Bahamas News

Sugar and salt tax campaigns gaining steam 



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 



February 7, 2023 – A global battle on sugar and salt is ramping up as the United States joins The Bahamas and Barbados in creating proposals for historic sugar and salt laws.

The country’s Agricultural Department for the first time in history, proposed a cap on the amount of sugar to be allowed in school meals.

The World Health Organization has found that North America and the Caribbean have the highest rates of childhood diabetes in the world and based on the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas we also have the second highest prevalence of Diabetes overall for all global regions at 14 percent  or 51 million people with a projected 24 percent increase in just 22 years.

Barbados, the United States, Canada, Haiti, Mexico, Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis are all suffering from incredibly high rates of diabetes.

Barbados and The Bahamas announced sugar taxes last month; the hope is to reduce the importation and sale of sugar and salt rich foods.

Advocates across the Caribbean including Jamaica, Trinidad, and others have been campaigning for sugar taxes in their own countries with support from the public.

Now the proposed nutritional rules for the United States would set firm boundaries on how much salt and sugar can legally be added to meals, setting a new standard as most food imports for countries like The Bahamas are from the US.

The plan for the US is expected to be rolled out by 2025.

The rules, are unapologetically an attempt to cut down incidences of diabetes and other diseases fueled by unhealthy diets, according to media reports.

For now, the quantities on sugar and salt additives is an idea waiting wider consultation.

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Texas bans TikTok from government agencies 



By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer

#USA, February 7, 2023 – Chinese owned TikTok has officially been banned from Government devices in another US State following the passing of a new law banning the social media app on Federal devices in December.  Texas Governor Greg Abott made the decision for his state following Virginia, Maryland, Alabama and Utah.

In a statement posted to his website Abbott said “The security risks associated with the use of TikTok on devices used to conduct the important business of our state must not be underestimated or ignored.”

He also claimed the app was harvesting significant amounts of data from users’ phones, maintaining the ban was necessary to  protect Texas’ sensitive information from threats.

The ban on downloading and use will apply to both state and personal devices with internet connectivity  that are used to conduct state business including cell phones, laptops, tablets and desktops.

It also prohibits residents from conducting state business with devices that have TikTok or other ‘prohibited technology’ enabled on them and bans any device with this technology from entry and use in sensitive areas, locations or meetings. The ban must be in effect by February 15 in all state agencies. There was no indication it would affect devices, personal or otherwise, not used to conduct state business.

The ban comes amidst increased tensions between the country and the Republic of China over a spy balloon that was sent into US airspace by China and then shot down by the US.

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