Leno Applauds Government’s ‘No new taxes’ Promise
The founder and CEO of one of the nation’s leading financial services companies today applauded government for its ‘no new taxes’ promise.
Sean K. Longley, head of LENO, a progressive corporate services, trust, asset management and brokerage and trading provider with more than $800 million under administration, called the promise to hold the line on taxes “exactly the sentiment the business community – and all of us — need to hear during these challenging times.”
“There is no one from the smallest mom-and-pop shop to the largest developer or resort property owner who has not been impacted by the economic upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr. Longley. “Prolonged double-digit unemployment has put additional pressure on government to extend National Insurance payments and provide food assistance and other social services benefits. Funds have to come from somewhere and with less money in the economy because of the combined slowdown and lockdowns in an attempt to control the spread of the highly contagious disease, the question remains ‘Where is the money going to come from?’ We were very relieved to hear the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest promise that it would not come from additional taxes. The government has more flexibility and can take a long-term approach to its managing the impact of this pandemic in a way that individuals and businesses are less able to do so.”
According to Mr. Longley, neither businesses nor individuals can bear any additional financial burden after months of restricted operations or none at all.
“With the exception of food wholesalers and retailers and certain other essential services providers, most businesses face a financial challenge unlike any they have ever faced before,” he said. “Some are using this time to develop strategy for 2021 and beyond, but many are at a breaking point, so the declaration that there will be no new taxes was like an oasis in the desert, the respite we needed to help build confidence in the future of our economy.”
The finance minister’s comments were reported August 20, the same day the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) released a report claiming that up to 100,000 Bahamian jobs were “vulnerable” and predicting that up to one in six positions might be eliminated as a result of the pandemic.
Government has not disclosed exactly where funds to refill the coffers will come from, but there have been numerous references to expediting foreign direct investment, which could include at least two major proposals on the table now, both dealing with natural resources and energy.
“The important thing for us to do now, especially those of us in the financial services industry, is to take a long-term view. Where do we want to be and what is our vision one year, two years, five years from now? Once we have a clear vision, we can start the rebuilding process. Relieving the fear of increased VAT or other new taxes gives us the momentum we need to keep that cautiously positive outlook for the future. The Bahamas is still the same amazing country it was six months ago, a dream for people from around the world and an incredible place for us as Bahamians to call home.”
Less than a month before the first lockdown, Leno broke ground on its new $25 million, 5-storey, contemporary glass and steel corporate headquarters located on the top of the hill on Collins Avenue. Last month, it celebrated its 10th anniversary, growing from an initial team of four staff to nearly 40 and offering trust and fiduciary services, asset management, group & individual retirement plans, investment funds, brokerage & trading, college savings, accounting, payroll and financial planning services.