Senate approves key bills

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The Upper House of Parliament, this week, gave the nod of approval to several pieces of non-contentious bills that are considered key to the development of the country’s image in keeping with international standards.
The Law Miscellaneous (Amendment) Bill 2017 and Gambling Amendment Bill 2017 were passed with little or no debate.
The changes to the Law Miscellaneous (Amend-ment) Bill 2017 are relevant to the competent authority, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, in respect of the exchange of information for tax purposes.
The amendment addressed the various elements of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Leader of Government Busines in the Senate Senator Lennox Weston said the changes are necessary to permit the jurisdiction to partcipate in the fast- track review process as Antigua & Barbuda seeks to avoid being listed as being non-cooperative by July 2017.
“We are not doing it because we are foolish; we want to maintain that satisfactory rating and we hope, of course when we achieve that it will also lead to increased business,” Weston said.
The twin island nation has been black listed on several occassions.
The amendments to the Gambling (Amendment) Bill 2017 seek to clarify issues in relation to the payment of taxes and the applicable rates for specific categories as contained in the schedule to the Act.
The rates of taxes are as specified; Super Lotto — 14 per cent; Pick 3 — 14 per cent; Pick 4 — 14 per cent, Caribbean Keno — 14 per cent; Lucky Pick  — 14 per cent; New Online Games/New games developed — 10 per cent; Instant Ticket Games Scratch & Win — 8 per cent.
Opposition Senator Chester Hughes however argued that the rates were not high enough.
“I am not speaking about deterrent; the fees can’t deter people from gambling,” Hughes said. “It is the casinos which should be paying more in taxes to help with the social issues that affect our society. When you look at the lottery games where sometimes people don’t win and our athletes are struggling to get to games, and government is struggling to help the athletes, they should be paying more.”
 Senator Weston concluded that the rates were based on industry standards.
Changes were also made to the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment Bill) 2017.
The changes are to provide for the establishment of a Proceeds of Crime Fund into which the proceeds from a confiscation order or forfeiture order can be paid, managed and distributed to the agencies that are involved with the fighting of certain crimes and for public education.

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