Categorized | National News

PM Defends VAT Vote Absence

Prime Minister Perry Christie earlier this week defended his decision to miss the parliamentary vote on the Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill in the House of Assembly last week and said he had to make a judgement call on whether or not his presence was important.

Mr. Christie left the country for Las Vegas, Nevada the day the vote was taken and since his absence from the voting stage, he has come under fire by the Opposition who suggested that he did not want it to be recorded in history that he had anything to do with introducing the controversial tax system.

But Mr. Christie told reporters Monday that when he left the country he had already done his due diligence in the process.

“I knew that we had the majority to pass the VAT Bill, I knew I had personally led the preparation in the country for the VAT legislation, I knew I had met with the private sector of The Bahamas with respect to that, I know that we have to do more to prepare the government for the January introduction,” he said.

“I am in the process now of solidifying and improving the team and the capacity to deal with the legislation. My colleagues knew I wouldn’t be there for the vote. I made a contribution and I left.”

Mr. Christie last week travelled to the United States with Tourism and Gaming Minister Obie Wilchcombe where they attended a hotel and casino opening and met with a number of gaming consultants – including the owners of SLS a new hotel brand to be included in the Baha Mar brand.

He said as prime minister, it is also his job to ensure that investors want to come to The Bahamas and those who are already on the way are in constant contact with the government and added that for anyone else to suggest that his absence meant otherwise is purely political.

“Is it is true that I wasn’t there,” he asked. “Yes, I was not there. Whether the meaning they attached to it should be attached? I don’t think so. The fact of the matter is VAT will become the law of The Bahamas, it will come into effect in January, it is not going to have the negative impact that they say it’s going to have, I am going to make sure of that.

“When it comes to the protection of the poor, we are going to have new levels of policing in terms of pricing and prices and to protect the poor and we are going to be very specific with what we put in place.”

The VAT Bill passed in the House of Assembly last week with 22 members voting for the bill, eight members opposed and five members were marked as absent.

The government plans to introduce the new tax system in the country at a rate of 7.5 per cent beginning January 2015 as a way to broaden the country’s revenue base.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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