Turnquest: Revenue unit total fiscal impact at $39.2 mil.

Turnquest: Revenue unit total fiscal impact at $39.2 mil.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Revenue Compliance & Enforcement Unit (RCEU), continues to achieve “exceptional results’ according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest, noting that the unit has had a total fiscal impact of $39.2 million in the first ten months of the 2019/20 fiscal year.

During his contribution to the 2020/21 budget debate Turnquest noted that the RCEU is currently composed of 35 persons; with 12 additional hires having been approved.

“The Field Audit Team identified and assessed an additional $9.9 million,” he said.

“Part of their process is to ensure taxpayers understand the reasons for the changes to their filings with the intention that they will be able to report accurately going forward. These results were achieved with the hiring of 12 Bahamian auditors in August 2019.

“We have approved additional staffing of four auditors, who are expected to be onboarded when business returns to normal,” he continued.

‘The Collections Team, amplified by additional hirings last year, collected $11.7 million. Prior to the pandemic, we were in the process of hiring an additional three collectors to address the existing accounts receivable backlog.”

Turnquest said the RCEU was recently given responsibility for the collection of all outstanding real property taxes.

He noted plans to increase the number of call center agents eight to 13.

“In the first ten months of 2019/20, this team had a fiscal impact of $17.6 million,” said Turnquest.

“At the onset of the current fiscal year, the Government appointed a Revenue Auditor, who was tasked to perform an in-depth review of the revenue and cash management processes and procedures within the Government. Preliminary findings of this review identified a few persistent shortfalls in the current cash management system, which have led to challenges in revenue reporting.

Turnquest said: “Many, if not most of these challenges go back many, many years without resolution. A key contributing factor of the shortfalls in the cash management system is a lack of human capital, as the major revenue agencies often find themselves unable to adequately man the revenue management process due to lack of staffing.”

According to Turnquest, the government will introduce a dedicated Revenue and Cash Management Unit, which will be responsible for the management and implementation of effective strategies to realign the revenue and cash management cycle of the Bahamas Government.

“The Unit will be led by a Director of Revenue, who will lead a team of Revenue Officers stationed in the Treasury and in each of the large revenue generating Government departments, agencies or ministries to implement and control the processes that need to be in place to properly manage the Government’s revenue.”

He added: “All told, this Unit is intended to underscore the accurate and timely capture and reporting of Government revenue, as well as reduce the potential for fraud and collusion through enhanced oversight.”