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Around $30 million in gaming tax losses  

DPM: Issue affecting govt finances

Peter Turnquest.

A delayed introduction of the government’s new tax regime on the gaming industry has led to the loss of up to $30 million in projected revenue so far this fiscal year, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday.

After making a presentation to Treasury Department personnel at the British Colonial Hilton yesterday, Turnquest was pressed for details about the government’s losses following the delay of the tax introduction.

“…I hesitate to say the number but it is a significant number,” said Turnquest.

He continued, “… It is affecting some of the issues that the previous question raised in terms of our ability to liquidate our arrears as regularly, consistently, as we would like because there’s no way that you can have a hole of $24 [to] $30 million and that not affect something.

“So, it is having some effect. We need to work our way through it but we anticipate collecting every penny of the government’s revenue.”

Last year, the government announced a sliding scale tax and patron’s tax on the web shop industry, but web shop bosses took the government to court over the matter.

The operators filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking leave for judicial review of both policies. They also sought an injunction against the taxes.

Following the application, the government agreed not to impose the taxes but rather seek to have further discussions with gaming house operators in a bid to iron out areas in dispute.

Turnquest said at the end of the day, the web shop operators are “not really depriving the government of the revenue”.

“They’re depriving the service providers, all of those persons who have served the community legitimately and are entitled to compensation,” he said.

“They’re depriving them from economic activity.”

He said he was disappointed with the gaming industry and the “stance that it is taking”.

But he said the government will continue “to press on, to try to have a constructive dialogue with the gaming industry to come to an understanding of why the government is taking the positions it has taken”.

“… At the end of the day, we expect that the government’s revenue will be collected and the attorney general has spoken to that,” Turnquest said.

In an interview with The Tribune last week, Attorney General Carl Bethel reportedly said it is time for taxes to be collected from the industry, and the government is “ready to go to war”.