Thursday, December 18, 2014
Actually, time never had time for us because we are too wasteful. Now, after all this time, in what state are we to face whatever blows in from this Cuban-American possibility? Whatever comes has already happened. It is the realisation of what it has done and will do to us that will come slowly; because we will be in our habit of denial for decades to come. You should note that the in the Bahamas, there has not been a significant investment from an American investor in 25 years.
The analysis on us is that The Bahamas is where investments go to die. We had our chance 30 years ago. And when our mojo was lost, we responded by saying "Its Better in The Bahamas", even as we erected further impediments to good investment. And as usual, we will not innovate to meet the challenge caused by our venality, self-indulgence and plain stupidity. Instead, our cronyocracy will act to snatch every opportunity to reduce potential broad economic activity to personal 'fee collection'.
They will not respond with strategies to correct decades of slothfulness. Instead they will react to protect their personal hides; sighing that our shrinking economic prospects is from the impacts of "globalisation". They will send itinerant fools to evangelise this nonsense and our people, (swaddled with bad education, holding politicians high with such 'messianic fervour' that a basic job is now a political favour ), will prove unable to be that check in democratic terms, to force their hopes for, or vision of themselves upon those who presume to govern them.
Soon the offices of the state will be used openly to secure personal advantages against any striving Bahamian with ambition. These forebodings are not unique to The Bahamas. This is the road to the death of prosperity and the result of cronyist lackeynomics, poor education and societal malaise that fuels the engine of criminality that ensures the efficient destruction of generations upon generations.
It is the result of decades of bumptious tomfoolery and convoluted excuses masquerading as a concept of life. In one real sense Cuba has already 'eaten our lunch'. A nation under a half century embargo by the largest economic power in human history and yet, they surpassed us in tourism - an industry we pioneered - a decade ago, and, disgracefully - we are sending our students to them for education.
Our country does not appear on a single world leading benchmark. (Oh dear, I made an error. We have amongst the highest homicide rates in the world. I do not wish to diminish our accomplishments). Our Ministers of the cloth cling to every vice as the nation rots; the lights are on in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and we cannot keep power in Nassau; a city named after the Prince of the most efficient country in the world; our young people wail concerning the incompetence of their governments, only to find their governments, which do not have time for governing, with all the time in the world to counterattack them for expressing their fears; we have placed our entire birthright in the future value of beachfront property, which is more likely to lose value in the next 20 years; we are capitulating to join a trade organisation - the responsibilities of which will increase red tape and the slow pace of governance processes - when our greatest economic opportunity in 50 years is in services; our government Ministers are trading on their positions in the very face of the public, whilst imposing draconian rules to punish poor Bahamians for failing to meet tax obligations they themselves have not met, despite a stranglehold on the nation's resources through their crony networks. What of vision and the future?
I wrote in 2012 that the Bahamas and Cayman Islands should be to Cuba what Singapore is to China. But of course, we are too busy busting up, shoving down and undermining fellow Bahamians - under two lunacies called PLP and FNM - as we run down our true potential for deals like Baha Mar, or pursing foolishness such as VAT, WTO and rescuing Bank of The Bahamas. As usual, we will have convenient excuses...even where none are possible. And we will twist ourselves as if in the Exuma wild oceans currents, to explain our only resilience: wutlessness as worthfulness.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Fred Mitchell totally discredits misinformation about The Bahamas’ new immigration policy at the Organization of American States (OAS)
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister the Hon. Fred Mitchell totally discredited the malicious misinformation circulated nationally and internationally about The Bahamas’ new immigration policy during a major address at a Special Permanent Council Meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Tuesday, December 16, 2016.
Addressing ambassadors from OAS-member countries and a number of guests assembled in the ornate Hall of the Americas in the OAS main building on 17th Street, N.W., Mr. Mitchell made direct reference to the misinformation being circulated about the new policy by Attorney Fred Smith, President of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association.
“There are three allegations that have been made that bear addressing in this forum which go to the heart of the matter: our country’s reputation,” Mr. Mitchell said. “There is a Queen’s Counsel in The Bahamas who heads a human rights organization which is connected around the world and whose allegations have made headlines in the hemisphere and around the world. The specific charges must be refuted.”
Attorney Smith has recklessly accused the government of “institutional terrorism,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “running Auschwitz in The Bahamas,” referring to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
“The latter statement alleged in particular that this minister was responsible for Auschwitz in The Bahamas,” Mr. Mitchell said. “Madame Chair, words have meanings and when a Queen’s Counsel makes such a statement he must be put to proof. Certainly the government of The Bahamas is bound to respond. Let me be clear: there is no institutional terrorism, no ethnic cleansings, no Auschwitz in The Bahamas. No group is being targeted for elimination in The Bahamas, no mass murder is occurring in The Bahamas and certainly none which is sponsored or sanctioned by the state. There is no evidence anywhere that this is the case and we refute it absolutely. We once again repeat the invitation to the human rights bodies to inspect at any time and without notice.”
Mr. Mitchell emphasized that the United Nations Human Rights Commission has a representative in The Bahamas and “they have been to the detention centre and can say whether or not we are operating gas chambers and engaging in mass murder in the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.”
“The remarks are so outrageous and absolutely irresponsible and I condemn without reservation,” the Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister emphatically stated.
Earlier in his address Mr. Mitchell said that on “behalf of Prime Minister Perry Christie, the government and Peoples of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, I appear here today to deal with a serious matter: the reputation of The Bahamas.”
“Nothing is more important to us than that in the international arena, whether in the hemisphere or in the sub region or around the world,” Mr. Mitchell said. “Reputation is everything. The respect which we have around the world, depends upon our reputation. My nation of less than 400,000 souls thrives off its reputation. Tourism is our main business. People come to The Bahamas as tourists because they believe and perceive that it is better in The Bahamas, and it is.”
Noting that The Bahamas is paradise and “we work very hard to maintain that reputation,” Mr. Mitchell said thousands of business people and “non-Bahamian residents live in our country because it has a stellar reputation as a safe place for investment and wealth management: a well regulated, transparent jurisdiction.”
“What we know however is that we must be eternally vigilant in protecting our reputation: correcting untruths and misperceptions where they exist and of course ensuring that within our borders and in our external relations we so conduct ourselves that we to the extent that our resources permit adhere to the highest standards and best practices as set by the international community,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said. “I am here today to reaffirm our commitment to the principles of the rule of law, due process, the international treaties on migration and all the instruments to which we adhere in the Inter-American system. Please be assured of that.”
He added, “This assurance goes out to friend and foe alike and has become necessary because of the misinformation that has been circulated by two innocuous administrative measures that were announced by The Bahamas, which took effect on 1st November 2014. The policies were contained in a one page document which advised the public that work permit applications would not be accepted for those people who did not have legal status in The Bahamas without them first being certified as being seen by one of our consular officers in their home country or in the nearest office to their home country.
“The second was that all non-nationals who live in The Bahamas would have to get and hold the passport of their nationality and obtain a residency permit, which would be evidence that they have the right to live and work in The Bahamas.”
Mr. Mitchell said these policies should not have been a surprise to anyone, adding that the political party “to which I belong announced that we would be perusing immigration reforms prior to our election to office in 2012.”
Mr. Mitchell pointed out that on an official visit of the President of Haiti to The Bahamas on July 28, “we advised the Haitian government that we proposed to do so and sought their advice on whether they could meet the expected demand for passports at their embassy.”
“The President indicated that they could,” Mr. Mitchell said. “This was followed up with a similar exchange at the margins of the United Nations in September with the Foreign Minister of Haiti, my distinguished colleague. We have since spoken with the Minister in the margins of the summit in Havana Cuba last week and the Haitian government has indicated that they will take measures to meet the demand. I thank them.”
The Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister stressed that the Department of Immigration, which is charged with the responsibility for executing the new policies, has an enforcement unit and each day, they go out and do immigration checks.
“The press both at home and abroad keep referring to these as round ups or raids,” Mitchell emphasized. “There are no round ups in The Bahamas. Round ups are for cattle not people. Words make a difference.”
On November 1, Mr. Mitchell added, they did what they usually do “and in the course of one of these checks, parents abandoned their children and left the children unaccompanied in their homes. This was later borne out by the parent in the press who indicated that he ran and told the children do not to open the door.”
“The constitution of our country empowers officers to arrest people who are committing offences on the following standard: a reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed, is being committed or is about to be committed,” Mr. Mitchell said. “Officers are briefed on that standard and reminded of their responsibility in law to treat everyone with respect and with dignity and to afford everyone due process. So far as I am aware they have stuck to that standard. The government does not sanction any deviation from that standard.”
He said the International Human Rights Commission is invited along with the Organization for American States “to come at any time and inspect our procedures and facilities and see whether what we are saying is correct.”
“We are open and transparent and have absolutely nothing to hide,” he insisted. “Where there are shortfalls, we are committed to ensuring that those are corrected.”
December 16, 2014
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Friday, December 12, 2014
Pinder Abandons Public Service for Private Sector Payday
Many Bahamians will remember the somewhat dubious circumstances under which Pinder first entered front line politics in this country. A former US tax attorney, Pinder renounced his US citizenship and in doing so pledged his commitment to public service in this country and specifically to the residents of the Elizabeth constituency who supported him wholeheartedly and elected him to office twice, first as an opposition MP and then again into government.
After pledging his commitment in the service of the country, and ascending to the post of cabinet minister, Mr. Pinder has chosen to turn his back on that commitment in favor of what he is calling the opportunity of a lifetime. Clearly for Pinder, Deltec’s offer trumped the opportunity to serve his country, shape policy and influence the economic and financial future of the nation.
The sudden resignation of Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder to rejoin the private sector raises a number of serious concerns and is once again a reflection of the self-serving interests of members of this PLP administration.
Firstly, there are serious ethical implications which result from his resignation. Whose interest does it serve for a former cabinet minister, formerly responsible for regulating the financial services sector, to then join one of the very companies he had been mandated to regulate? Further, did Deltec court the minister for this position while he was still serving in cabinet? While he still had access to sensitive government plans for the sector, and if so were they given a preview of those plans? If so, this would not only be unethical but would also seemingly give Deltec and illegal advantage over its competitors.
Secondly, what will become of the many important initiatives which Pinder was overseeing? Among them, the country’s accession to the WTO? For Months, Pinder has spearheaded the talks with international officials and has been responsible for the – albeit – limited public proclamations on the issue.
Pinder’s resignation also highlights the need for discretion when choosing individuals to serve in public office. Such a decision should never be taken lightly. Taking on the responsibilities of public service often requires great personal sacrifice including giving up more lucrative positions in order to affect change. It is a commitment that is also taken on by that individual’s family as well. While the final decision is indeed Mr. Pinder’s to make, it certainly seems to send the message that he was no longer prepared to make the personal sacrifices necessary to fulfill his original commitment. I encourage any and all individuals considering public life to fully weigh the decision beforehand.
And what of Mr. Pinder’s decision to remain in parliament? How will his new duties affect his ability to serve his constituents? These answers are owed to his constituents and to the wider Bahamian public.
What this country needs are leaders who understand the idea of sacrifice. Leaders who are prepared to go without so that the entire country can benefit, leaders who are in it for the long haul, and not easily swayed by the offer of a big pay day.
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Thursday, December 11, 2014
Christie courts Cuba partnership
By K. QUINCY PARKER
Guardian Business Editor
The Bahamas affirmed its support for a move to end the United States embargo against Cuba, as the heads of state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba adopted the Declaration of Havana on Monday at the close of the fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit.
Prime Minister Perry Christie asserted that CARICOM and Cuba have always been able to overcome challenges and to develop strategies for mutual advantage.
“In fact, our forty-one years of diplomatic relations have been markedly fruitful as a result of functional cooperation in the areas of health, education, sports, culture, agriculture, disaster management, energy and construction,” Christie said, addressing the summit in Havana on Monday.
“We must continue to support each other in international fora, always providing reciprocal support for our initiatives, whether it is in advocacy for the rejection of any blockade against Cuba; support for the reclassification of middle income economies; negotiations for a strong post-2015 agenda that favors small island developing states; support for Cuba’s leading role in the CELAC process; and support for candidacies for election or appointment to multilateral bodies,” he said.
The prime minister said that The Bahamas and Cuba must continue dialogue on facilitating joint ventures in the tourism industry, particularly in concretizing the concept of multi-destination marketing initiatives and packages.
“This would surely make our region more competitive with other regions in the global tourism market,” he said.
Noting that transportation is key to national and economic development and the travel routes of both countries’ national carriers, Christie said Bahamasair and Cubana need to be further expanded to facilitate tourism, travel and international trade.
“The Bahamas, like Cuba, is also interested in seeking out new strategic partnerships for investment in renewable energy; partnerships that will facilitate access to new capital, more efficient technologies and new markets,” he said.
Christie also welcomed ongoing progress towards the finalization of a CARICOM-Cuba trade agreement, and said that at a bilateral level, negotiations for two Bahamas/Cuba Agreements for Cooperation in Animal Health and Plant Health are now well advanced.
Those issues and more were enshrined in the Declaration of Havana adopted on Monday, wherein CARICOM and Cuba committed to strengthen South-South cooperation as an expression of solidarity and the promotion of bilateral and regional programs as well as triangular cooperation for development.
In the declaration, heads of state - citing the cooperation between Cuba and CARICOM in health, the development of human resources, construction and sports - reiterated a commitment to continue promoting social initiatives as well as the implementation of projects to improve air and sea infrastructure and connectivity, and to broaden economic and trade relations through the implementation of the revised trade and economic cooperation agreement between CARICOM and Cuba.
The declaration also hails progress in the negotiations to expand market access and improve economic cooperation under the trade and economic cooperation agreement. Heads of state noted a desire to conclude negotiations by the end of the second quarter of 2015.
December 10, 2014
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
And Who Is Fred Smith, Qc?
Tribune 242 Editorial:
|Mr. Fred Smith, QC|
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Leaders like Myles and Ruth Munroe teach us that we are our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers ...and challenge us to practice what we believe through our deeds ...as well as our words
Diplomatic Farewell for Dr. Myles Munroe and his Wife Ruth
By Lindsay Thompson - BIS:
|A State-Recognized Funeral was held for Dr. Myles Munroe and Pastor Ruth Ann Munroe, on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at the Diplomat Centre on Carmichael Road. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)|
NASSAU, The Bahamas - People from all walks of life -- locally and internationally -- assembled at the Diplomat Centre for a Celebration of Life for the late Dr. Myles Munroe and Pastor Ruth Ann Munroe, on Thursday, December 4, 2014.
Leading the list of dignitaries and guests at The State-Recognized Funeral were: Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor General; The Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister, and Mrs. Bernadette Christie; Leader of the Opposition Dr. Hubert Minnis; Senators, Members of Parliament, Senior Government Officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps and leaders of the international religious community.
Dr. Myles Munroe was senior pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries International Fellowship, where his wife Ruth Ann Munroe served as co-senior pastor. The couple died November 9, 2014 when their private jet crashed into the Grand Bahama Ship Yard. Also on board that ill-fated aircraft were Dr. Richard Pinder, Pastors Lavard & Radel Parks and their son Johanan Parks all of Bahamas Faith Ministries International Fellowship; pilots Frakhan Cooper and Captain Stanley Thurston and American Diego DeSantiago.
Tributes were paid in liturgical dancing, praise and worship, with special selections by Vision singing the remake “Brand New World, and the Original Visionaires singing “Living With Jesus on the Other Side’”-- the group Dr. Munroe was a part of in the early 70s. Grammy Award-winning Gospel recording artist CeCe Winans also rendered “Don’t Cry for Me” – one of the Winans’ greatest hits.
Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie revered Dr. Munroe as “a man who never forgot his roots; a man who was passionately involved in Bahamian nation-building and who played an important part in that process over the course of more than three decades.”
He added, “So, let us make no mistake about it therefore, while Dr Myles Munroe was unquestionably a globalist, an internationalist, in scope of his Christian ministry and in the reach of his teachings and travels, he was at the same time a profoundly committed nationalist; a Bain town-bred Bahamian through and through.”
Senior Pastor Dave Burrows of BFMI said, ”We are gathered here to pay our final respects and tributes to two extraordinary human beings. Today, in some ways we are saddened but in other ways, we celebrate lives of purpose and destiny.”
He best described Dr. Myles Monroe, his mentor, as “a transformer; [in] that through his relationship with God and in his pursuits, no one he encountered was left without being transformed.” And in Referencing the Bible, Pastor Burrows described Ruth Ann Munroe as “a good thing.”
The Munroes left two children son, Chairo (Myles Jr.) and daughter Charisa who likened their parents to a ‘king and queen.’
“We have lost one of the greatest fathers and mothers; and… king and queen, who have ever lived,” she said.
“Yet is it only by faith that I can stand here before and declare with much authority that Pastor Myles and Ruth Ann Munroe are not dead but are buried alive in me and my brother.”
She said that their parents were born into a life of purpose and they died fulfilling that purpose. “They transformed people into leaders and leaders into agents of change.”
Tributes were also paid by His Grace Bishop Neil Ellis, President Bishop of Global United Fellowship & Senior Pastor of Mt. Tabor Church; Pastor Gary Curry, Pastor Emeritus of Evangelistic Temple; Dr. William Wilson, President, Oral Roberts University, which Dr. Munroe and his wife attended; Dr. Peter Morgan, President, International Third World Leaders Association; Charles & Xoli Masala, Directors, Myles Munroe International, Republic of South Africa; and many others. Dr. Jerry Horner of Jerry Horner International Ministries in Columbia, Georgia, performed the Eulogy.
In a written tribute, United States President Barak Obama said, “leaders like Myles and Ruth teach us that we are our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers and challenge us to practice what we believe through our deeds as well as our words.”
Myles Egbert Munroe was born in 1954 in Bain’s Town in a family of 11 children. He is an internationally renowned bestselling author, lecturer, teacher, life coach, government consultant, and leadership mentor. He travelled around the world training leaders in business, government, education, sports, media, and religion.
Dr. Munroe is the country’s youngest recipient of the ‘Queen's Birthday Honors’ Order of The British Empire (OBE) Award 1998 bestowed by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, for his spiritual and social contributions to the national development of The Bahamas.
He has also been honored by the government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas with the Silver Jubilee Award (SJA) for providing twenty-five years of outstanding service to The Bahamas in the category of spiritual, social and religious development.
Hundreds gathered at the Diplomat Centre on Carmichael Road for the State-Recognized Funeral of Dr. Myles Munroe and Pastor Ruth Ann Munroe, on Thursday, December 4, 2014. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)
A Colour Guard procession led the way into Lakeview Memorial Gardens & Mausoleums where the bodies of Dr. Myles Munroe and Pastor Ruth Ann Munroe of Bahamas Faith Ministries International Fellowship were interred, during a State-Recognized Funeral on Thursday, December 4,
2014. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)
Persons Shaped by His Teachings Represents Dr. Munroe's True Monument Says Prime Minister
By Dena Gibbs - BIS
|Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, at the Memorial Service for Dr. Myles and Pastor Ruth Munroe. (BIS Photo/Gena Gibbs)|
NASSAU, The Bahamas – At the State-Recognized Memorial Service for Dr. Myles and Pastor Ruth Munroe at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, December 3, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie said Dr. Myles and Pastor Ruth Munroe’s true monument is represented in the two wonderful children they produced, and in many of the leading men and women of our society who were shaped by their teachings and personal example.
The Prime Minister noted Dr. Munroe’s testimony is witnessed in the leaders of our society he greatly influenced and shaped, who will continue his work, and their children “will take the baton and carry on the cause. And that is how great nations are built, brick by brick, one family at a time; one person at a time; one generation at a time, but all moving in the same direction, guided by the same sense of purpose, guided by the same values. Yes, that is how great nations are built, and how great nations endure.”
Before a large stadium crowd, and as part of a comprehensive programme of speakers and cultural expression -- the Prime Minister observed that we hear too little of those are doing good things “even great things, day in day out, working by the sweat of their brow; raising good families; helping out and doing good works in the community; leading lives of high purpose that ennoble themselves and ennoble us as all as a society, as a people, and as a nation under God. That’s the kind of people Dr. Myles leaves behind as his monument.”
During his condolences, the Prime Minister discussed his last meeting with Dr. Munroe and his last conversation, noting in retrospect it seemed there was a lot on his mind, “much more than normal” and that he had a sense of urgency that “the challenges of our time summoned us all to leadership in one form or another so that the problems of contemporary Bahamian society that so troubled him could be more aggressively addressed and remediated.”
He said: “I don’t have to tell you that Dr. Munroe really loved his country, this beloved Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Yes, he would go forth into the world, crisscrossing continents, flying across the great oceans of the planet but he would always come back home to play his part, a leading part, in helping to build up his country,” said Prime Minister Christie.
“This kind of outreach was central to his sense of purpose and central to his work as an evangelist for Christ because it was clear to me that religion for Myles Munroe was not about locking oneself up in some remote ivory tower of private contemplation. Rather, it was about rolling up your sleeves and getting down into the trenches to deal with the real problems of real people living in the real world.”
Prime Minister Christie said while Dr. Myles Munroe was unquestionably a globalist, an internationalist, in the scope of his Christian ministry and in the reach of his teachings and travels, he was, at the same time, a profoundly committed nationalist; a Bain Town-bred Bahamian through and through; a man who never forgot his roots; a man who was passionately involved in Bahamian nation-building and who played an important part in that process over the course of more than three decades.
“And so my brothers and sisters, as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, I therefore stand at attention today and salute Dr. Myles Egbert Munroe as a Bahamian patriot of the first order. And on behalf of all my compatriots, I offer the thanks of a grateful nation for the life and work, and for the shining example, of this great son of our soil,” said the Prime Minister.
The large crowd. (BIS Photo/Gena Gibbs)
Monday, December 1, 2014
Haitians and Haiti don’t really give a crap about their poor countrymen, women and children living illegally in another country
I’m still following the illegal immigration debate in our beloved Bahamas with great interest. The hypocrisy of Haitians toward illegal Haitian migrants and their children in our country is unbelievable. I have heard Haitians from the east, west, north and south talk about us Bahamians, and our lack of Christian love and charity toward their illegal brothers, sisters and children residing in The Bahamas.
I submit, that they don’t really give a crap about their poor countrymen, women and children living illegally in another country. As a Justice of the Peace, I can tell you that there are thousands of children of Haitian parents who were born and raised in The Bahamas, and who do not know Haiti; and they have not even tried, for whatever reason - to apply for Bahamian citizenship in the legal required time: by 18 years old and before 19. The young children of Haitian parents under 18 years old in The Bahamas today, of which Haitians from the east, west, north and south pretend to defend, will follow their older brothers and sisters here – and will never apply for Bahamian citizenship – for whatever reason.
So, The Bahamas has a serious and mounting illegal immigration problem to which illegal Haitian immigrants are at its heart; and thanks to successive Haitian governments and diplomats, who have been reckless and careless in dealing with the plight of their countrymen who are living illegally in another country for decades. What message does the Haitian embassy in The Bahamas, the Haitian government in Haiti and the big mouth Haitians in the Diaspora have for their thousands of Haitian brothers and sisters in The Bahamas who have forfeited their right to apply for Bahamian citizenship, and who have never been invited by their government to register with the Haitian Embassy on Shirley Street, Nassau – The Bahamas?
Where are their Christian love and charity toward their own? They have none, in my view. All they want to do is to continue to pass the buck. Enough is enough, says The Bahamas. Haitians, wherever you might be, be your brothers’ keepers. It’s about time that you people live up to your responsibility, and stop blaming others for your indifference toward the least of your Haitian brothers, sisters and children.
December 01, 2014
Warning on VAT healthcare implications
Guardian Business Reporter
Value-Added Tax (VAT) Private Sector Education Task Force Co-chair Jasmine Davis said yesterday that vatable healthcare will have “huge socioeconomic implications” for the country’s workforce if not readdressed by the government.
Davis told Guardian Business that the task force continues to push physicians and healthcare facilities to register for VAT to avoid incurring penalties, but stressed that the medical community will continue to lobby for exempt status simultaneously.
“Medical services as described in the act are essential services, and it has huge socioeconomic implications. What we don’t want to see is persons opting out of getting healthcare,” said Davis.
She pointed out that the tax on healthcare would not only affect lower-income households, and anticipated that businesses would shift the additional 7.5 percent of healthcare costs onto employees.
“What would result is that we would have a sicker populace, which means that people will not be working, which means that dollars will not be moving through the economy, which means that the amount of money that is expected to be derived through taxation will not happen,” she said.
Davis could not provide a figure for the number of healthcare professionals registered for the tax to date. However, she claimed that the sector is making good progress in registering.
Davis also reasserted that healthcare and education are benefactors of the VAT system in other jurisdictions that have implemented the tax.
“Funds from taxation are normally earmarked for healthcare and not the reverse, where healthcare is taxed to reduce the deficit,” said Davis.
The Ministry of Finance recently clarified that national exams and other education services will be exempt from VAT. Given these exemptions, Davis argued that healthcare was planned to be exempt from VAT up until the last revision of the tax’s legislation tabled in July.
November 28, 2014