Categorized | National News

Roberts Accuses Gov’t of “ Reverse Robin Hood”

Registering his opposition  to new taxes to be imposed by the government, former  Cabinet Minister Bradley Roberts says, “ the Free National Movement government  proposes to refund half of the taxes collected in Grand Bahama to the Container Port, Buckeye and Statoil while squeezing the poor for more taxes. They also propose to amend the VAT Act to facilitate this decision. This is unconscionable and another reason to oppose these tax hikes.”


In a  press release yesterday, the Chairman Emeritus of the Progressive Liberal Party said,  “ the government could not give the Bahamian people justifiable reasons for the tax hikes. The Prime Minister said he was staving off a currency devaluation, but the Deputy Prime Minister said the country’s external reserves are healthy at 23 weeks. Further, the Prime Minister proposed the use of a fiscal policy instrument to address a non-existent monetary issue which demonstrates a lack of understanding of the country’s economy.


“The Financial Secretary (FS) said the government was avoiding a downgrade of our sovereign credit ratings. Well, since the country has recovered from hurricane Joaquin and Matthew and Baha Mar is fully opened and exceeding economic expectations, the reasons for the credit ratings downgrade by Moody’s no longer exist so the FS makes a moot point.


“The three principal fiscal personalities in the government are singing three different tunes and contradicting each other so the nation has every reason to oppose this budget,”  said Mr. Roberts.


“Both the FS and the Finance Minister then said the government needed to raise an additional $400 million in taxes to pay off old government liabilities and arrears. This brings me to my second reason for opposing the budget: the government’s handling of the Revenue Enhancement Unit (REU) within the Ministry of Finance.


“The REU was collecting between $25 million and $30 million PER MONTH in uncollected taxes. Independent consultants advised the PLP government that between $400 million and $600 million in uncollected taxes existed in the tax system but were being leaked because of systemic inefficiencies. The PLP aggressively went after those uncollected taxes. The REU was successful and international credit ratings agencies commended their work.


“Additionally, some 2,000 unregistered high end commercial properties were identified and the PLP government gave the REU an additional mandate – to register and regularize these commercial properties to the tune of an additional $30 million in the public coffers.


“The PLP government determined that VAT at 7.5%, revenue enhancement measures and a number of projects (like Baha Mar and the Pointe) taken together would satisfy the fiscal needs of the government, grow the economy and create jobs which in turn would improve government revenue performance. There was no need for additional taxes or tax hikes. I support this balanced approach to restoring the economy and achieving a balanced budget.


“The FNM came to power in May 2017 and Peter Turnquest dismantled the REU, revenue performance suffered and Turnquest simply lied to Parliament – telling House members that the REU was floundering. To this day he has failed to explain that terrible and harmful decision or explain how in the world is the collection of $25 million to $30 million in additional tax revenue per month amounts to “floundering.”



“There is a strongly held and pervasive view that the tax evaders targeted by the REU were politically sensitive to the FNM – that is, these rich people being forced to pay their fair share of taxes are their friends and political donors and the FNM. The government simply lacks the political will or integrity to go after these tax cheats and decisively address these huge tax leakages. The strategy of the FNM is to give their rich friends a pass and burden the poor with more taxes. It is called reverse Robin Hood. Take from the poor and give to the rich. I strongly oppose this evil being visited on ordinary working Bahamians. 


The Bahamian people understand what the FNM is doing and this is why public outrage is so strong and the outcry so loud,” said Mr. Roberts.




Written by Jones Bahamas

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