VAT REVENUE: SHOW US THE MONEY!
For five years, the previous Free National Movement administration used the public purse as its own personal credit card, racking up millions of dollars in debt during their term in office. After years of runaway deficit spending by the FNM, this Christie administration was elected to office on the promise that it had the answers to addressing the ever expanding national debt. Their answer, VALUE ADDED TAX. The PM sold the new tax regime as the only way to stave off the impending financial cataclysm facing our country. Pushing aside widespread public concern about the potential impact of the new tax regime on the lives of already struggling Bahamians and ignoring recommendations from its own consultants who insisted that a viable Freedom of Information Act be implemented ahead of VAT to encourage transparency, the Christie Administration introduced Value Added Tax on January 1, 2015.
With VAT extracting $150 million in net new revenues out of the economy for the first half of 2015, and approximately $300 million for the full year, consumers, businesses and social organizations have already moved to adjust to the country’s new economic reality. The impact of VAT has been far reaching and not for the better, in fact, it appears that concerns raised by members of the business community regarding this administration’s fiscal track record were in fact well placed.
Among the sectors most heavily impacted has been Real Estate. According to Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) President Carla Sweeting, VAT is singularly responsible for the significant dip in property sales across the country with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database falling by 50 percent between January and August of 2015.
According to the most recent figures from the Central Bank of The Bahamas, the national debt grew to a staggering 6.5 BILLION dollars, representing an increase of some 133.7 million dollars. This staggering fact begs the singular question. WHERE IS THE MONEY? The time has come for this government, and in particular the PM in his role as Minister of Finance, to come clean. SHOW US THE MONEY!
The Democratic National Alliance asks that the government identify how the money raised through Value Added Tax is being spent? If the monies are no longer be used to service the country’s debt WHAT IS IT BEING USED FOR?
This lack of transparency and accountability is proof yet again for the need for a viable and effective Freedom of Information Act. Bahamians should not be left in the dark regarding the government’s use of its tax dollars. Bahamians are not prepared to just take the PLP’s word for it. SHOW US THE MONEY!
DNA Deputy Leader