Govt to pursue businesses not paying VAT

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – With only 63.7 percent of its budgeted revenue collected for this fiscal term, finance minister Peter Turnquest revealed on Tuesday that the government will be going after business owners who have been delinquent in paying their Value Added Tax (VAT) contributions.

“We are recruiting a number of accountants to help beef-up our compliance and audit section, so in the next couple of months you will begin to see them more activity in the field as they finish up training and begin doing VAT visits to ensure compliance,” he said.

A part of government’s shortfall was also attributed to gaming operators who have been delinquent in paying their taxes.

Turnquest noted yesterday that government has taken the delinquent gaming operators to court and he expects that the matter will be remedied.

While a number of factors led to the shortfall in quarterly revenue, Turnquest highlighted that government has made significant headway in its larger goal, which is to continuously decrease the county’s deficit within its remaining three years in office.

Finance officials released in a report Monday night that government initially projected it would collect $2.6 billion dollars for this fiscal term.

According to the ministry’s quarterly review, $600 million dollars was collected in the third quarter and over $960 million dollars would have to be collected between April and June, in order to meet its projected goal.

Turnquest said he is cautious about making zealous predictions, but is optimistic that government will meet its target.

“We continue to be very cautious about making any bold statements in this regard because we have three months to go and anything could happen,” Turnquest said.

“But, as we look at trends and our forecasts, we do believe that we will meet our target.”

Turnquest said government is pleased at its overall progress with shoring up its financial affairs to date.

As of March 2019, the deficit stood at $129.2 million dollars, compared to $174.2 million at the end of December 2018.

“This has been an exercise in changing the way we think about government finances and spending and is about putting in place the fiscal laws and rule that will cause discipline to become culturally engrained so that we operate in a disciplined environment continually,” Turnquest said.