THE government’s roll-out exercise for Value Added Tax has been a failure according to the FNM, which said “critical weaknesses” are now evident in the administration’s finance team.
As public and private confidence in the PLP government continues to decline, FNM chairman Darron Cash said, Prime Minister Perry Christie must stop talking and start listening.
“He must start by making a definitive statement to put the brakes on this impending July 1, 2014, VAT train wreck,” Mr Cash said.
The failing VAT rollout has revealed critical weakness in the Christie Administration’s finance team and with each passing day
confidence declines further.
“What is increasingly clear is that the finance team, from the Minister of Finance down, is simply not up to the task of governing this country’s fiscal affairs. Regrettably, Prime Minister Christie is the last to face this reality. Consequently, the country is suffering because of this glaring lack of leadership.”
According to Mr Cash, the biggest failure of the Christie administration has been its unwillingness to recognise the need to pay as much attention to domestic investors as they do to foreign investors.
“Bahamian investors are being ignored,” he said. “A strong and confident private sector is vital to the sustainable growth and stability of the economy. It is unfortunate that Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Perry Christie’s attitude towards the private sector has been one of lackadaisical indifference matched with incompetence.
“There is growing public evidence that Mr Christie’s approach has been a failure thus far due mainly to the fact that his approach to relations with the private sector has been to keep them on a short leash with the promise of consultation while simply ignoring them and what they say.”
Mr Cash said this attitude is one clear difference between the governing philosophy of FNM leader Hubert Minnis and the current prime minister.
“The FNM leader understands the importance of government leadership, but is fully aware that private sector leaders are the ones who will make the biggest difference in producing sustainable economic development. This is a basic economic principle that is lost on Prime Minister Christie,” he said.
“The most recent example of the PM playing games with the private sector has been his response to their proposals for VAT alternatives.
“The PM asked the business community for alternatives to VAT. They took him seriously and provided a well-considered set of recommendations.
“Almost before the ink was dry on the private sector document (and certainly before the Prime Minister had a chance to review it), the Financial Secretary, John Rolle, was in the newspaper dismissing the recommendations as all inferior to VAT.
“It appears that no one in the Ministry of Finance even gave the private sector recommendations a second thought. The FNM suggests that this Christie approach is no way to run a country and certainly no way to engage the private sector in meaningful dialogue about how to grow this lackluster PLP economy,” he said.