Three Free National Movement Members of Parliament have publicly expressed disagreement with the increase of the value added tax (VAT), from 7.5 percent to 12 percent.
Out of Grand Bahama, Pineridge MP Rev. Frederick McAlpine; and from New Providence, Reece Chipman of the Centerville Constituency and Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller, have expressed their opposition to the large VAT adjustment advocated by their government.
Another MP in the FNM fold, Long Island’s Adrian Gibson wants the government to delay the increase. Others have indicated that while “pained” to support the 4½ percent additional burden on the taxpayer, they are toeing the party line.
Financial experts have come out against the 12 percent VAT. That lot includes the former FNM Minister of Finance, Sir William Allen. We hold the view that the scene is ripe for the government to make a compromise. It makes sense for the government to reconsider and adjust the figure.
The argument being made by other FNMs for the 12 percent VAT to remain does not hold water because there are other areas, less painful to the average Bahamian that could be revisited and adjusted.
Instead, for instance in exempting purchases from airplanes and helicopters, apply some form of tax to generate revenue. The $500 customs exemption for travellers who purchase goods abroad, could be left to $300. Bahamians were fine with the $300 gesture twice per year
Miller, in the House of Assembly on Wednesday said he was carrying out the wishes of his constituents.
“Among the promises I made during the election campaign was one regarding my initials (VM). I promised them that if given the opportunity to serve them, I would be their ‘Voice Maximized,’” said Miller.
He informed the House and the wider listening audience that the majority of his constituents are against the 12 percent increase.
“They were not opposing an increase, mind you, but they felt that 12 percent was too much. They wanted to know about incremental increases up to 10 percent.
So, Golden Gates cannot support the 60 percent VAT increase from 7.5 percent to 12 percent,” Miller emphasized.
What’s wrong with Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and the rest of the Cabinet Ministers?
Don’t they feel and see how the wind is blowing on this particular national issue?
It seems the government is being stubborn in the face of a general and legitimate concern.
We hasten to point out to the government that sometimes, listening to backbenchers makes all the sense in the world.