Categorized | Featured, National News

Pintard Slams PM On No New Tax Claims

Hon. Michael Pintard, Leader of The Official Opposition

By Licec Bastian

The Leader of The Official Opposition, Hon. Michael Pintard is convinced that Prime Minister Philip Davis mislead Parliament and the Bahamian people when he said there would be no tax increases.

During his 2023/2024 Fiscal Year budget communication in the House of Assembly last Wednesday, Prime Minister Davis said while his administration intends to generate revenue, it will be done without raising taxes.

However, Mr. Pintard in a statement on Sunday, hurled accusations at the prime minister and claimed that the government does intend to raise taxes.

The Free National Movement (FNM) contends that supporting bills, also tabled in the HOA last Wednesday, clearly laid out “brand new revenue measures and increases”.

Mr. Pintard specifically pointed to the Customs Management Act and The Immigration Act.

“The Opposition takes strong issue with the amendments to the Immigration Act and the Customs Management Act that seek to delegate taxation powers down to the Minister. The amendments would allow the Minister unilaterally to establish and set rates for mandatory fees and levies to be charged to taxpayers. 

“The entire premise of every democracy is that there is no taxation without representation.  It is only the elected representatives of the people through Parliament have the right to establish and change taxes and fees to be deployed to defray central government expenses. 

“It is why our Constitution makes special provisions for ‘Money Bills’ which have the effect of imposing or increasing taxes and fees imposed by government,” Mr. Pintard said.

Mr. Pintard also noted that the prime minister’s budget speech did not make any mention of the possibilities of a sugar or wellness tax.

“Yet, the government is proposing an amendment to the Customs Management Act that would delegate to the Minister of Finance the ability to levy the much-discussed sugar tax without seeking Parliamentary approval.  

“This cannot be. 

“If the PLP wants to implement a sugar tax, it must come to Parliament and get approval for the structure and for the rates. 

“This PLP government seems determined to upend even established constitutional and parliamentary conventions in their ever-increasing attempts to evade accountability and transparency,” Mr. Pintard said.   

Referring to the Immigration Act amendments as a “slush fund” the FNM leader further contended that the government must debunk the views that it is a naked attempt to circumvent the constitution and the Public Finance Management Act.

“The government is proposing the establishment of a special fund for Immigration to defray a multitude of routine central government expenditures. 

“The opposition is uncomfortable with such a potential slush fund and will demand a full examination of the intent and controls to be established to supervise this fund.

“We hasten to remind the public that this same PLP in last year’s budget promised to set up a special Family Island Fund, which we have heard nothing about since,” Mr. Pintard said.

The opposition leader said “the FNM will not support attempts by this increasingly brazen and unaccountable PLP government to sidestep parliament’s authority and oversight”.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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