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Finance looking into customs revenue shortfall

A shortfall in customs trade taxes is more than likely due to duty rate reductions compounded with some leakage and the completion of major projects, but Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said his ministry hasn’t yet put a pin on why revenue is down in that area.

A breakdown of revenue collection for the first nine months of the year showed that the government collected $312.7 million in trade taxes and $169.9 million in excise taxes, according to the Ministry of Finance.

“We are looking into it because we want to be factual, but we know that the reductions that we have done in duty rates would have had some effect and we know that the completion of some of the projects that have been ongoing would have also had some effects, but we are not able to say yet to the line what the major categories for the decrease were,” Turnquest said in an interview with Guardian Business this week.

Overall government revenue is up for the first three quarters of fiscal year 2018/2019, due largely to the increase in value-added tax (VAT) during this fiscal period, which resulted in $588.9 million in VAT revenue collected so far.

Last week Turnquest told reporters that while the government was exceeding expectations for revenue collection in some areas, it was analyzing why it is behind in customs trade taxes.

Asked whether he believes the shortfall is due to consumer shock, Turnquest said, “We don’t see that. We know that there is some leakage and we’re trying to get our hand around that, but if you look at the other indicators it would lead you to have to accept that it isn’t necessarily a trade issue of any particular specificity, but a confluency of factors like the completion of projects, some duty rate reductions and then some other activities that we need to do a little more digging on.”

The government has projected it will collect $2.6 billion in revenue for 2018/2019, but in order to meet that target it would have to collect $960 million in revenue during the final quarter of the fiscal year.

Paige McCartney

Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas.
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News
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