Categorized | National News

Senate Rushing VAT Debate, Says Bethel

Opposition Leader in the Senate Carl Bethel on Monday accused the government of “degrading the importance” of thoroughly debating the Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill as government senators yesterday moved to simultaneously debate legislation for the controversial scheme and a number of other financial services bills.

Senator Bethel said the Opposition was pretty much blindsided by the move, having only received a call a day earlier about the multi-faceted debate and insisted that the government is trying to force VAT down the public’s throat.

“When you a moving a bill as destructive and as damaging at the VAT Bill it deserves the full attention of the people and the full attention of the government,” he said.

“So we deeply regret that the government has shown such disrespect for the Bahamian people that they would move such a bill and jam in a couple of financial services bills and thereby degrade the importance they attach to this VAT Bill they are putting on the Bahamian people.”

Leading off debate was Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator Keith Bell who informed the Upper Chamber of the move and noted that despite the Opposition’s assertions that the bill is being rushed through, there are facts and documents to prove that the government has taken its time with this process.

“Online there are any number of reports relating to tax reform in The Bahamas,” he said. “The government has been accused of moving too quickly as the leader (of the Opposition) just noted that we are trying to fit this in and fit that in, but that is not true.

“There has been widespread consultation in the industry. As a matter of fact I invite everyone to go to the government’s website and the Central Bank’s website and you will see a large number of reports.”

Senator Bell further pushed the point that the government has been making for months now, and that is that vat is badly needed for tax reform in the country.

He also responded to Opposition suggestions that the government make a move on collecting outstanding taxes instead of imposing another on Bahamians, but noted that it is the very same area the former government fell down in.

“On the FNM watch, real property taxes increased by 28 per cent, uncollected, arrears,” he added. “The Opposition can’t really say nothing to this government about outstanding because under their watch they failed to collect real property tax and the recession had nothing to do with it. They created the recession, they exasperated it.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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