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BCCEC to change fee, billing cycle

A new fee structure for the newly-formed Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation(BCCEC)should be complete by February.

BCCEC Chairman Khaalis Rolle toldGuardian Businessyesterday that the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce saw a net average membership decline of about five to seven percent over the last two years, due to the difficult economic times members faced. The new fees represent a change to a single billing cycle and rationalizes the fees of the former BCC and the Bahamas Employers Confederation, which merged into the BCCEC effective January 1, 2011.

“One of the biggest issues we have is that people just don’t have the money to renew,”said Rolle.”They’re finding it extremely difficult to pay core bills. They understand how important the Chamber is to them and they would like to continue to support it.”

One of the measures the BCCEC will take is to offer members payment terms of three to six months, with smaller businesses being encouraged to pay their membership fees within three months and larger businesses allowed up to six months.

Rolle also said that the fee structures of the two merged organizations will be consolidated into a single billing cycle.

“Like most similar organizations, we have had some challenges,”Rolle said about the membership decline.”I don’t believe this is new, particularly for us, because every year we run into membership attrition and the reselling process to existing members, especially members that were brought in during the previous period.”

Rolle said on average annually there was about 10 to 20 percent attrition, though the fall-off of existing membership was typically more than offset by growth from new members in good years. He estimated current membership to be around 700, but said that due to how members were billed, some members are making late payments and the fact that the Chamber usually waited a year before members were struck from the roster for non-payment of fees, the number of members was always a”running total”.

“So it’s a moving average,”Rolle said of the membership count.”It’s extremely difficult to pin down because there are so many different payment cycles for our members.”

The move to a single billing cycle should be administratively cleaner and less costly, according to Rolle.

The published fee schedule for the former Bahamas Chamber of Commerce started at$200 for individuals with a single employee and no voting power on the Chamber,r up to$3,000 for members with 251 or more employees and granting eight votes. The Employers Confederation’s published fees started at a$200 subscription rate for companies or groups of companies with up to 25 employees, and climbed to$1,800 for organizations with more than 600 members. Associations of companies paid the confederation subscription rates of$1,000 for two to five members up to$3,000 for associations with more than 15 members.

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