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Minister Threatens Vendor Shutdown

A top Cabinet minister has threatened to shut down Potter’s Cay Dock and Arawak Cay vendors who have refused to pay the government leasing and business licence fees.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Alfred Gray explained yesterday why he is taking an iron fist with the vendors.

Last month, he had meetings with vendors from both sites who agreed to pay small amounts towards their ballooning arrears.

Yesterday, the minister told reporters that those arrears have been mounting for several years.

“We have agreed to place $200 per month on the arrears and some of them amount to $30,000 to $40,000 and we expected that they would keep their leases current,” Minister Gray said.

“I am told that some vendors are belligerent. They are refusing to accept that proposal and unless the Cabinet of The Bahamas stops me I am going to ensure that those who have no leases have no licence and if they have no licence to operate, I’m going to ask the police to close them down. I want that to be loud and clear. The only entity I will not disobey is the Cabinet. If they tell me to leave these people alone then I will leave them alone.”

The minister said he believes the vendors are trying to take advantage of the government.

“I think Bahamians expect the government to govern. If people in certain sectors could have arrears of $40,000 and $50,000 then the whole country is going to follow that example because what you don’t do to Peter, you can’t expect to do that to Paul. If they were not making money then I would have mercy and pity for them. But they are making money. They just don’t believe the government should get what is due to it,” Minister Gray said.

In the past, many vendors have complained that they simply cannot afford to pay government taxes.

But Minister Gray said if they can’t afford to pay their bills, they should get out of business.

“You can’t be in business making money and believe that the government can carry out the governance of this country without everyone paying their fair share. When I speak to this issue I get very personal because there are some in this country who believe that the government should do everything for free,” he said.

“There are people who have become millionaires out of these businesses. But when it comes to paying the government to make sure the government works, it’s like pulling teeth.”

The vendors at Potter’s Cay Dock were asked to pay $100 a month and Arawak Cay vendors were asked to pay $200, according to the minister.

He added that he is going to give the vendors two weeks to pay their taxes.

“I have people knocking at my door seeking to get a space at Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay Dock so if these people pay the fool as it were, we will just close them down and give the licence to someone who is willing to pay,” Minister Gray said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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