Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said the fact that the government has now announced that it will delay the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) is clear proof that Prime Minister Perry Christie is a “disappointing failure.”
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis confirmed to reporters yesterday that VAT will not come into effect on the government’s initial proposed date of July 1.
Mr. Christie, who is also the minister of finance, according to Mr. Cash should be held accountable for the “big mess” that ministry has made of the country’s finances.
“I put the overall performance of the Ministry of Finance on shoulders of the minister and his minister of state,” Mr. Cash said when asked how he would describe Mr. Christie’s leadership as the head of the country’s finances.
“The two of them together have really been disappointing failures. There’s no question about that. You can look at the rollout of tax reform and specifically the prospects of VAT as a classic example of the disjointed and dysfunctional way in which they have managed this process. There have been no straight answers, no clear indications of timeframe and certainly no demonstration of the ability to maintain commitment to any timeframe. The legislation is going to be presented on one day. Three months later is one day, two months later it’s another day and then it’s another day. The changes are being made and they are being tweaked. Then the next thing you know is it’s about two months before you see anything meaningful.”
According to Mr. Cash, it is disappointing to know that it took two foreigners to come from the other side of the world for the government to realise that their July 1 implementation date was unrealistic, when “intelligent Bahamian minds” were saying this all along.
“What’s disappointing is that the prime minister’s continuous willingness to cowtail to foreign consultants is a gross lack of Bahamian professionals,” he said.
“You listen to the advice that he has gotten from the business community, the Coalition for Tax Reform and the advice that he has gotten from the lead of the Opposition and you will see that it is clear that the prime minister is not to his own people. Unless the statement or recommendation comes from one of his foreign consultants he is not going to validate what is said. That is regrettable.”
Mr. Cash said he will not question the ability or knowledge of the two consultants from New Zealand who were in town to do research before they made any recommendations to the government on VAT.
He said they are highly skilled men in their field, with years of experience who deserve respect.
However, with the men saying that they see VAT as the second best tax to introduce to a country, Mr. Cash said he does not agree.
“I said it before, and I’ll say it again, there are other ways for the government to make money,” he said.