Thirty-Three Bills Passed

NASSAU, Bahamas — Thirty-three Bills were passed during the 2010 session of the House of Assembly.

One of the Bills receiving the most public attention was the Bill for an Act to Require Businesses to hold a Business Licence, to Repeal the Business Licence Act, Chapter 329 and for connected matters, was passed in July 2010.

During a town meeting in San Salvador, Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing said the Bill would make doing business in The Bahamas a lot easier.

Mr Laing explained that with the new Act — which came into Force in January 2011 — businesses are going to be taxable every year, and a business owner would only need to send in the simple form explaining how much they made.

“Once I know how much you made, I will be able to assess your taxes, and it is going to be a Business License Tax.

“If you are making $250,000 or less a year, for the next two years, you will have no Business License Tax to pay because you are exempt under this new law,” he said.  “Before it used to be $50,000, but now it is $250,000.”

Further, Mr Laing noted that every year, thousands of businesspersons in the country are required to renew their license.

“That is going to be finished with under the new law,” he said. “Under the new law, in 90 days time, you will have to re-apply, re-register your business.”

Mr Laing said with this new process, a business is registered forever unless the owner sends in a form stating that the business has closed. If that form is not sent in, then the Government assumes the business is still in existence.

The forms are also very flexible, he noted. “With one form you can change the name of your business, the location of your business, and pay your taxes.

“Attached to that form will be instructions on how to fill it out. It will also ask what kind of business you are seeking to go into, and will tell you what the pre-requisites are for applying for that business.”

Individuals will be told up front what they are required to do, so that they when they carry in the application form, they would have all the corresponding documentation and will not be given the run around.

The Government has also stopped individuals from having to apply for several separate licenses. For example, before if persons wanted to open a restaurant, they had to apply for a business license, shop license, music and dance license and liquor license.

Persons can now apply for their business license and once they have been successful the license will state that they are hereby licensed to do X, Y, and Z without having to run around applying for several licenses, he said.

While businesspersons may not have to renew their license every year, they would have to file their returns, which will be due March 31, Mr Laing said.

“If you do not do so, you will not have a Certificate of Good Standing from us,” he added.

Also passed during the last session was A Bill for an Act to Repeal and Replace the Dog Licence Act; to Repeal certain provisions of the Penal Code in connection with the Control and Regulation of Dogs, Cattle, and other animals, Pounds, Injuries and Cruelty to Animals and to provide for connected matters.

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources the Hon Larry Cartwright said the intent of the Bill is to control and protect animals by decreasing the amount of stray dogs and livestock roaming the islands to reduce the risks these strays can create for both people and themselves and making punishable the mistreatment of these animals.

“The Bill is an outcome of extensive consultations and arises out of a felt and expressed need for greater control and regulation of roaming and stray animals in this country,” he said. “The Bill ensures that all animal owners and persons who keep animals, are made responsible for the welfare and control of animals in their charge.”

Other Bills include a Bill for an Act to Amend The Bahamas and the United States of America Tax Information Exchange Agreement Act and a Bill for an Act to Amend the Central Bank of The Bahamas Act to Enhance the Bank’s Regulatory Powers; to Validate the Bank’s Ownership of Balcony House and for connected matters.

The House, which is now in Summer recess, will resume its sittings on October 5.

By Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services