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Bahamas: Govt Postpones Gaming Patron Tax Till Court Hearing

THE government Friday agreed to postpone the imposition of its new five per cent gaming house patron tax until there is a hearing on October 5th in the Supreme Court.

The sliding scale, which came into force July 1, also has been set down.

This decision came after gaming house operators on Thursday night filed an application in court seeking leave for judicial review of both government taxes.

On Friday morning, Queen’s Councils Wayne Munroe and Alfred Sears, representing several web shops, appeared before Supreme Court Justice Indra Charles where they sought an injunction to block the patron tax, which was to come into effect Saturday – September 1. One of the applications also extended to the sliding scale.

Speaking following the court appearance, Attorney General Carl Bethel said this issue had more to do with the process by which the tax is implemented.

“The court itself was unable to proceed with a full hearing and we (the Attorney General’s Office) were certainly not in a position having only been served late yesterday (Thursday) evening to intelligently oppose the application for leave to bring judicial review proceedings,” Mr Bethel told reporters. “We intend to oppose the application should it come to that.

“And so the court has set the fifth of October as the date for that hearing. In the meanwhile we have been urged to have further discussions with the applicants to see if we can narrow any areas of dispute and we’ll do so.

“No injunction has been issued, but out of respect for the court and the difficulty the court was in that the court could not intelligently and in a fair judicious way have dealt with a matter on the basis of such urgency, we have agreed that there would be an undertaking that the tax wouldn’t be imposed pending the hearing on the fifth of October. That is a courtesy that we extended to colleagues opposite also to the courts so that the court is able to effectively perform its function bearing in mind that it would be unwise to defend your right of way at your peril when the court is not comfortable and then the court will make a ruling that you may not be comfortable with rather than to have a ruling and rather than to have any injunction, we deemed it to be in the highest standards of judicial conduct and the conduct of council to grant an accommodation to allow the court to have the comfort of fully considering all of our arguments. So the court is able to make the best decision for the Bahamian people in these circumstance.”

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