The President of the Seychelles, James Alix Michel, has confirmed that changes will be made to the personal income tax system, designed to make taxation “fairer and more equitable.” In his recent State of the Nation address, Michel foreshadowed reforms designed to reduce the tax burden on low-income earners and make the personal income tax system more progressive. Under the changes, from July 2016, individuals earning up to SCR8,555.50 (USD553.74) per month will not pay any income tax. Then, from January 2017, the first SCR8,555.50 in earnings will be subject to tax at 0 percent. Michel also announced in his address that the Ministry of Finance will undertake a review of the tax system to determine how the Government can “maximize its revenue” and reduce tax evasion in certain economic sectors. The measures form part of the Government’s medium-term fiscal framework agreed with the International Monetary Fund, which is designed to stabilize the Government’s finances and reduce public debt. The medium-term fiscal strategy was first put in place in 2008 following a default in debt payments. The plan includes an IMF-agreed target to cut its debt-to-gross domestic product to below 50 percent by 2018. The IMF said following the completion of its third review of the Seychelles’ Extended Fund Facility (EFF) that good progress is being made by the Government towards reducing the public debt burden, with the 2015 budget surplus expected to be around four percent of GDP. The Seychelles has received approximately USD9.1m in monetary assistance from the IMF under the EFF arrangement approved in July 2014.
According to the statistics released by the Hong Kong Companies Registry, the total number of local companies registered under the Companies Ordinance at the end of 2015 was 1,288,666, up nearly 16,000 from last year.
While there was a net increase in the number of companies registered, the number of new registrations fell in 2015 to 139,209, from 167,280 registered in 2014. However, the Companies Registry welcomed the fact that 35,448 of the new companies were incorporated online at the e-Registry via the new one-stop electronic company incorporation and business registration service.
The Registrar of Companies, Ada Chung, said: “The Registry launched a full-scale electronic filing service covering all specified forms on March 3, 2015. The electronic service not only facilitates the reporting and disclosure of company information but also enhances the efficiency of filing for companies.” In addition, 894 non-Hong Kong companies that have newly established a place of business in Hong Kong were registered under the Companies Ordinance last year, an increase from 811 in 2014.
The total number of registered non-Hong Kong companies reached 10,029 by the end of 2015, up 4.21 percent on an annual basis.
02/12/2015 For the sixth consecutive year, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has been named the most important offshore financial services jurisdiction by OIL’s annual Offshore 2020 report.
The report is based on the opinions of 300 global financial services industry professionals and explores key trends and issues facing the industry.
Martin Crawford, the CEO of OIL’s parent company, Vistra Group, viewed BVI as being in pole position when compared to other offshore jurisdictions and as the most popular offshore location for both companies and individuals in China. With its focus on adding value, rather than just volume, Mr Crawford concluded that BVI is well positioned to serve more sophisticated clients.
The report also highlighted BVI’s ease of doing business, speed and efficiency, legal and commercial certainty, and robust regulatory standards.
Richard Hall, a Partner at Conyers Dill & Pearman, said: “Looking ahead we expect to see the use of BVI structures increase, with BVI companies increasingly used as listing vehicles. The BVI experience is seamless and in many cases those who have for whatever reason chosen to use other weaker jurisdictions have returned to use BVI structures because it is the best in the market.”
The Director of BVI House Asia, Elise Donovan, said: “This is clear recognition of the depth and breadth of our offering and, most importantly, this report challenges the common perception that the BVI is being used for tax driven purposes.”
According to the report, around 40 percent chose BVI for asset protection, investment holdings, and wealth management, 20 percent chose BVI for special purpose vehicles and listing vehicles for initial public offerings, and 12 percent of individual and 8 percent of companies chose the jurisdiction for tax planning purposes.
20/11/2015 Ratings agency Moody’s has increased Cyprus’s credit rating by two points, from B3 to B1. The two-notch upgrade was unexpected, as Cyprus had previously been assigned a ‘stable’ outlook.
Moody’s expects fiscal discipline to continue post-program exit and through parliamentary elections next year. The agency anticipates that the government debt burden will now reach below 100 percent by next year and around 80 percent of GDP by 2020. Moody’s said Cyprus is experiencing a “faster than expected economic recovery” and has consistently outperformed compared with fiscal targets.
The agency in particular pointed to recent efforts to streamline public sector administration and also noted improved safeguards for the financial sector, including in the area of insolvency and foreclosure. Moody’s said that non-performing loans are expected to fall as a result of these latter efforts, from 47 percent of loans currently.
The Isle of Man Financial Services Authority will come into being on November 1, when three of the island’s regulators will merge. The FSA will take over the roles of the Isle of Man Financial Supervision Commission, the Insurance and Pensions Authority, and the Insurance and Pensions Supervisor, which will be dissolved. The Tynwald voted for the formation of a unified financial services regulator on March 17, 2015, and approved members for the new Board in October. Members will serve a five-year term but, “to ensure a degree of continuity when the new Board comes into effect and to alleviate the risk of having to repopulate the entire Board at the end of the five-year term, the Treasury offered some of the successful candidates a term of two and a half years.” Eddie Teare, the Isle of Man’s Treasury Minister, said: “Having one financial regulator for the island will produce a leaner, fitter system of regulation.”