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News Report: "Chamber targets education over Business Licence woe"

Published by The Tribune News, May 6th, 2024

The Chamber of Commerce’s vice-chairman says it wants to work with the Government to better educate the private sector and avoid the delays that plagued this year’s Business Licence filings

Don Williams added that the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) has been communicating with the Department of Inland Revenue (DIR) and Ministry of Finance in a bid to develop a plan that will educate its members on how to use the former’s online tax portal.

Speaking at the Rotary Club of West Nassau, he said the private sector did not receive sufficient “education” on the Department of Inland Revenue’s new tax reporting portal prior to submitting their Business Licence renewal filings this year.

This has resulted in some companies receiving their Business Licence renewals late and/or delays to the process. The Chamber is now working with the relevant agencies to put an education plan in place so companies are better prepared for what they might encounter.

Mr. Williams said: “We’ve been digitally communicating with the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Department of Inland Revenue. As you know, one of the things they did was roll out a new system. I do not believe, both personally and professionally, that we had enough education behind it. So, as a result, it has led to Business Licenses being released months after.

“They made certain concessions. I believe this year it was to April 2 that you were allowed to carry your prior licence. Also, a lot of other things came into play. So, for example, depending on your level of turnover, you are now required to have an audit or a review performance.

“The Chamber of Commerce has been diligently communicating with those organisations, and we’re trying to outline a plan with them so that next year, with the proper training and education behind it, that is something which will be a thing of the past.”

Mr. Williams said the Chamber sends out surveys to the business community to receive feedback on its concerns. This enables it to advocate to the relevant authorities on its behalf for a solution.

He added: “We send out constant surveys to the business community. So we take those surveys, and it’s not just our members; a lot of non-members take them as well, in terms of us being able to get their feedback.

“A lot of the things that we advocate for are actually concerns that the business community has brought to us, or were aware of, either through some trade show or a programme that we’ve put in plac.”

Mr. Williams said the Chamber has been involved with multiple trade missions that were “successful”. During these missions, the Chamber connects members with relevant industry partners in that country.

He added: “We find out what our members are looking for, and we find out what are the industry touch points that countries have that we can benefit from. We tend to link our members directly to those sources.

“So, it’s not just a trade mission where we’re going and visiting governments, and we sit down and have a few meaningful communications. We want to introduce you to your new business partner on that mission, so they’ve been extremely successful.”

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