Categorized | National News

Minnis: Delay New Tax

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis is urging the government to hold off on implementing value added tax (VAT) next year.

Dr. Minnis says there are too many unanswered questions about the proposed tax.

During a news conference in the House Minority Room, the Free National Movement (FNM) leader said the government has sent out individuals to explain the new tax who do not understand it.

“There are many questions they could not answer. So how could you answer questions about a product about a new system when you cannot answer many of the questions,” Dr. Minnis questioned.

“This is a new system. Everyone wants to know how it will work. What it would mean is an extra cost to the business sector. That cost . . . [would then] be passed on to you and [me], the consumer. Who would be affected the most, it is usually the poor whom we should be protecting and looking out for. We know that the poverty level will increase and the middle class will decrease. This would increase cost in food prices and so the quality of foods that they would eat would not be good.”

He predicted that VAT would also establish a black market.

“You would see more vendors on the streets selling items at a decreased cost. So we are creating another problem that the government would not address.”

The Opposition leader said the government would also be increasing the cost for culture as many Junkanoo artists and performers spend more than $1,000 to perform.

He added that restaurants would also suffer.

“What will happen is that the decorations will go up. That’s an added $300 expense to that the Junkanooer. What will happen to the restaurants? Already there is a 15 per cent charge. The government said they would impose a 15 per cent VAT charge. Now they say they will only impose a 10 per cent VAT charge. That’s an additional 25 per cent on the restaurant on your meal purchase. What do you think that will do on the tourism sector? What do you think that will do on the local sector? They would not be able to afford it anymore. Families who want to go out and have lunch they will not be able to afford it anymore,” Dr. Minnis said.

“They have no intention of removing the 15 per cent gratuity and making that optional so that their 10 per cent would remain. They must explain of whether or not they have intentions of trying to remove that.”

Dr. Minnis, who was recently suspended, said he is happy to be back in the House of Assembly so that he can put forth questions like these.

“They want to know what is happening with the cost of living. They want to know what is the issue with VAT. They want to know what is the legislative agenda to try and create opportunities and ownership for Bahamians,” the Opposition leader said.

“I’m continuing to hear about Baha Mar, what do we own there? We also hear about Bimini. What do we own there? Isn’t it time for us to own something? That’s why we are so anxious to be back because want to create opportunity for that poor man who is suffering.”

He added, “We need a complete analysis of this.”

Prime Minister Perry Christie has said that the new tax is meant to level the playing field between the rich and the poor as well as provide the government with more revenue.

VAT is expected to be implemented on July 1, 2014.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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