Categorized | National News

Sands: Gov’t Placating Int’l Credit Agencies

The government’s plan to review the country’s tax system may be just what international credit rating agencies have been longing to hear.

In fact, Dr. Duane Sands, the Free National Movement’s (FNM) former candidate for Elizabeth said that is pretty much all it is – a bid to appease such agencies.

“There is very little doubt that The Bahamas has no choice but to move to a more progressive taxation system and clearly that uncomfortable decision has to be taken by the government,” Dr. Sands told the Bahama Journal.

“The nod to consideration, study or review tries to placate the international monitoring agencies that are looking to see whether we are serious, but at the same time tries to make it seem that for Bahamians, this bitter pill is not going have to be swallowed anytime soon. So it’s a lot of hand waving but not a lot is meant.”

On page 22 of its 24-page Speech from the Throne, the newly sworn-in Christie administration acknowledged that “there is an emerging national consensus that the Bahamian tax system is simply inadequate to meet the needs of a modern 21st century society.”

“My government will therefore launch an extensive review of the Bahamian tax system with a view to proposing alternative means of taxation that address the problems of the current system while providing the government with a stable, buoyant and adequate source of revenue to meet its governance obligations to the Bahamian people,” the Speech said.

The government is expected to introduce legislation to establish a council of economic advisors.

According to the Speech, the council’s role will be to develop policy recommendations for government on the major issues pertaining to economic growth and stability, including tax reform.

Both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) have long prodded The Bahamas to consider introducing a value added tax (VAT).

However, it is a suggestion both the Ingraham and Christie administrations have dismissed.

But, without it, the new government must focus hard on curtailing the country’s rising debt, putting it at manageable proportions in the face of a still bruised economy.

When he appeared as a guest on the Love 97/JCN weekly talk show Jones & Company this past January, then Opposition Leader Perry Christie acknowledged that for the first time The Bahamas is reaching the point where leaders need to consider introducing some form of value added tax.

“We’re in a situation where the payment of debt can only get worse,” the now prime minister said at the time.

He added that if The Bahamas does not anticipate the “bitter medicine” it will not be prepared when it comes.

The national debt stands at over $4 billion.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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