The Ministry of Finance hosted over 450 participants last week in two informational webinars on the reporting process for the Commercial Entities (Substance Requirements) Act 2018 (“CESRA”). In a strengthened effort to support businesses in meeting their reporting obligations, the Ministry designed a three-part webinar series for business stakeholders to learn more about the legislation, the reporting process, and to address the various challenges businesses have been experiencing. The Ministry also released the first of several “How to” video tutorials that will further guide businesses through the reporting process.
“The business community has been very receptive to our ongoing outreach as there are many good faith efforts to comply with the new CESRA regulations. It is a new process so naturally there are many questions. The penalties for non-compliance are quite high given the seriousness of the legislation, but they are intended as deterrents for those trying to skirt the process. So, we are strengthening our efforts to help businesses who need a bit more support to complete the process and avoid late penalties,” said Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Finance.
“We listened to the concerns at the start of the year and suspended late penalties until January 31. And we listened to the concerns of those who said they needed more help to understand and work through the process. This is why the team is engaged in direct outreach, training and public education to ensure everyone is in a position to meet their obligations,” said Minister Thompson.
Participants came to the webinars loaded with questions, and during the two sessions, the technical teams were able to field some 400 questions, ranging from the legislation in general to the reporting platform in particular.
“The webinar sessions provided corporate service providers, business persons and indeed the general public with a practical, step by step tutorial on the process to register entities for CESRA using the portal. The panelists were able to clarify certain general areas of uncertainty and were able to quickly respond to specific questions through the convenient webinar chat feature. Having the benefit of attending one of the sessions, the scope of the reporting obligations under CESRA is much clearer and I am pleased with the responsiveness of the Ministry of Finance in addressing any issues that may arise ahead of the reporting deadline,” said Ms. Alexandra T. Hall, Partner, Higgs & Johnson, who participated in the webinar.
Acting Comptroller of Inland Revenue Gaynell Rolle, who co-hosted the session along with facilitator Stephen Coakley Wells, Director of Regulatory & International Affairs, Ministry of Finance, said: “It has been most encouraging to see the active participation of so many entities and their representatives posing questions to ensure they are in compliance with the requirements. I am happy to know that most stakeholders now have an appreciation of the importance of this activity from a global
A third and final webinar is scheduled for Monday morning (January 18). “In these sessions, we have attempted to explain CESRA and the economic substance reporting process to as wide an audience as possible. There now appears to be a degree of comfort with the process and businesses are recognizing that it is not as burdensome as was previously thought,” said Mr. Coakley Wells.