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September 2019 deadline on NPO bill

The government has until September 2019 to pass the Non-Profit Organisations Bill, Attorney General Carl Bethel said.

He said the NPO bill is a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issue.

“We have until, the very latest, until September of 2019,” Bethel said. “Of course, we intend to be fully up to speed well before that.

“We are not under any time pressure at this time in terms of the Non-Profit Organisations Bill.

“Although, and I think this must be made very clear, that the effective lack of any meaningful supervision of non-profits organizations in the legal system in The Bahamas is a matter of grave concern to the FATF because as we may not know, or everybody may not know, the funding of 9/11 terrorists took place through non-profit organizations, specifically religious charities.”

Bethel announced that debate on the bill will be delayed until January 2019.

He said yesterday that the bill still needed to go to Cabinet for the requisite approvals and noted that amendments will seek to reduce some of the bureaucracy and make it more user friendly.

The bill seeks to regulate non-profit organizations and mandates that each organization register with the government and provide, among other things, evidence of its gross annual income, the identities of its members and evidence of know your customer due diligence.

The NPO bill was tabled in the House of Assembly on November 28 along with four other bills and debated as a compendium of bills.

When he tabled the bills, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest indicated that they were meant to help keep The Bahamas off the European Union’s (EU) blacklist of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.

He said a EU technical group met on December 11 “to evaluate all the submissions that have been put forward, and they will make recommendations to European ministers, who will meet in January”.

 

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018. Education: College of The Bahamas, English

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