Small and medium-sized businesses are continuing to endure the pinch of the Grand Bahama economy, which according to D’s Car Rental business owner, Darren Cooper, is becoming more difficult to do.
Hardships and challenges faced with conducting day-to-day business operations have forced several companies to close their doors after providing years of dedicated service.
As the lead spokesperson for the Grand Bahama Small Business Owners community, Cooper recently offered a suggestion to The Bahamas Government and other relevant authorities, which he believes would greatly assist businesspersons in the transport industry and aid in their survival.
According to Cooper, “The Bahamas Government offers Customs Duty Exemption for the importation of a new vehicle to be used within the transportation industry to taxi, livery, tour car and omnibus operators.
“Personally, I have done research in regards to this and learned that every five years – taxi, livery, tour car and omnibus operators can upgrade their fleet of vehicles using the exemption offered, which allows waivers for duties on new vehicles to be used, encouraging industrial development.
“Well as the owner of a car rental/self-drive business franchise, I am submitting to The Bahamas Government and relevant authorities that the same exemption should be offered to those within my line of work so that we too can remain on the cutting-edge.”
Pointing out that self-drive vehicles, taxi, livery, tour car and omnibus operators are all for the use of visitors to the shores of The Bahamas, Cooper believes if the government and relevant authorities are serious about improving the state of Grand Bahama and the economy, consideration should be given to upgrading the island’s overall appeal.
As a Grand Bahama Port Authority Licensee, who strives to abide by the law to the letter, Cooper claimed that there is a diverse cadre of persons operating businesses outside the confines of the law that governs all corporate entities inclusive of those in the transport industry.
As it relates to car rental businesses, he alleged that many persons are involved in illegal rental of blue-plated vehicles and, such individuals are not paying the fees GBPA Business Licensee holders are required to.
Additionally, Cooper who’s required to pay the Road Traffic Department $300.00 annually for inspections and nearly $1,000.00 for Third Party Insurance as well as National Insurance Board fees, Value-Added Tax and other costs, has consistently petitioned the government and relevant agencies to properly police the system, while finding and being opened to suggestions that could help businesses within the local community thrive.
“If we want to provide guests with the best impression that can only come by ensuring our fleet is not only presentable, but of the best in quality we need the Government’s help.
“It is quite unfortunate that The Bahamas Government only allows taxi, livery, tour car and omnibus operators to make use of the Customs Duty Exemption, but car rental/self-drive agencies do not have that same concession,” Cooper maintained.
“If the Customs Duty Exemption were to be offered to business entities like mine, it would serve as encouragement to us; we would be able to upgrade our fleet and do our absolute best to stay within the confines of the law.
“We invite the government to look into this suggestion. Besides according to the law, all locally-based individuals within the transportation industry, who wish to import a new vehicle to be used within the transportation industry such as Taxi/Livery/Tour Car/Omnibus are eligible for this exemption.
“And although there are seven procedural requirements to fulfill inclusive of; 1. Submitting a completed application form along with the originals and copies of supporting documents to the Revenue offices.
2. Family islands applicants can submit the application to the local administrator and collect approvals/rejection from the local administration office.
3. A representative from the Ministry of Finance, Revenue Unit and Industry will review the application and, if necessary, request omitted information and documentation.
4. The Ministry will contact the applicant via phone to inform them that the document is ready for collection.
5. The Ministry will hold the document for one day after which the approval/rejection is mailed out to applicant.
Once approved the applicant can then use the exemption document to present to customs or the local dealership for clearance of the vehicle.
6. Note: Entities not eligible to receive an exemption from custom duty will be notified when they collect their documents at the Office or in the mail. Applicants can contact the Revenue office to inquire as to the reason for their ineligibility.
7. If rejected the applicant is required to pay the normal duties stipulated by the customs department; everything works well for taxi, livery, tour car, and omnibus operators.
“Besides one person is able to hold up to 10 taxi plates and each one is eligible to receive Customs Duty Exemption for a new vehicle once they provide supporting documentation that includes a Franchise Letter, Valid Business License, Confirmation Letter from National Insurance indicating that contributions are current, Invoice/Pro forma Invoice of Vehicle – (note: the invoice must show the Vehicle Identification Number).
“I am pleading with the authorities to give that concession to car rental/self-drive companies, which essentially are in the same industry,” declared Cooper.