Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Value Added Tax (VAT) and Tax Reform in The Bahamas

By Dennis Dames:

We, the Bahamian people must realize that we cannot continue to borrow more than we are collecting in taxes.   We should appreciate as one people that something has to give now, as it relates to getting our fiscal house in order.  Either we increase taxes, or cut spending significantly.  We do not have years left to answer that question, and to take sound and prudent fiscal action, my brothers and sisters.

So, that is why we are debating the impending institution of value added tax in The Bahamas; to help us to live by a balanced budget until further notice.  This Bahamian has already accepted the reality that we need some kind of tax reform in The Bahamas, so that the government could collect more money on our behalf, in order to contain the outrageous deficit spending – year after year.

Our National debt is projected to officially double in the seven years; from $2.4 billion in July 2007, to $4.9billion to June of 2014 – coming-up.  The fiscal deficit for the past two years is reported to be more than $500.00 million.
It is a pity that the education process on the principles of value added tax (VAT) did not begin when the Bahamian government had signed on to the various international agreements years ago, like: the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).   We know it was coming nonetheless, because the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) made it known that value added tax (VAT) is in the pipeline.  We went through the 2012 general election - recently, and the electorate voted overwhelming for the PLP and FNM.
So, what’s the problem?  Who’s shocked, who’s surprised, who’s outraged and who didn’t know that value added tax (VAT) was on the horizon?  The FNM has reminded us recently, that if they were elected in 2012, they had plans to employ value added tax (VAT) by 2015 or in thirty-six (36) months; the PLP plans to install value added tax (VAT) by July 2014 or in twenty-two months of their 2012 general election victory.
I think like the pundit, Dr. Gilbert Morris in the Turks and Caicos Islands, when he sounded in that nation’s context, that it was not that the TCI people are against value added tax (VAT), but it was felt nationally, that more time was needed to prepare the people for the realization of value added tax (VAT).  The United Kingdom was seen to be rushing the brush and had to eventually relent, in the wake of public pressure from every political house - and cancel the Turks and Caicos Islands’ value added tax kick-off date of April 01, 2013.
Our Prime Minister has said publicly, that he is open to delaying The Bahamas’ value added tax (VAT) execution date, which is scheduled for July of 2014.  It’s a great gesture, Mr. Prime Minister.  Now it’s time for all Bahamian people to face the music of looming tax reform in our country, and let’s start dancing and debating.  Our children and the generations yet unborn, deserve to enjoy the fruits of our wisdom.

November 13, 2013

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