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'Freedom Of Information Act Crucial To V.A.T. Implementation'

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE passing of a Freedom of Information Act and a Fiscal Responsibility Act were important in establishing trust in New Zealand residents over their government’s efforts to implement Value Added Tax (VAT) and other fiscal reform initiatives, New Zealand VAT experts said.

New Zealand operates one of the world’s most successful VAT regimes. Two of that country’s VAT experts, who are presently in the Bahamas, are in the process of advising the Bahamas government on its readiness for VAT.

The statements of John Shewan and Don Brash come as uncertainty continues to exist over when the Bahamas government will uphold its campaign promise to pass and enact a Freedom of Information Act.

Their statements also come as residents continue to call for the government to bring forth and enact the legislation in order to assure transparency over the government’s actions.

In 1982, five years before VAT was implemented in New Zealand, a FOIA was passed in the home country of the VAT experts currently advising the government on its VAT readiness. The proposed date for the introduction of the tax in the Bahamas is July 1.

Then, in 1994 the New Zealand government passed a Fiscal Responsibility Act to allow for “explicit fiscal reporting.” Over time such steps to ensure transparency helped to improve fiscal relations in the country and established greater trust in New Zealand residents for their government’s actions, the VAT experts said.

Over 90 countries in the world have some form of a FOIA, including Caribbean neighbours Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.

A FOIA was debated and passed under the former FNM administration in 2012. However, it was later withdrawn by the PLP, with government officials promising to bring forth a stronger piece of legislation.

State Minister for Legal Affairs Damien Gomez suggested to The Nassau Guardian in January that the passing of a such an Act is not at the forefront of the Christie administration’s current agenda.

Regarding the purpose of the New Zealand VAT consultants being in the Bahamas, State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis has said that the government wants them to give “the benefits of their experience,” and to “say here are things you need to be doing, here are some suggestions.”

The consultants are expected to leave the Bahamas this week.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 5 years, 7 months ago

Well that kills that. PLP aint ga never put in FOIA. This the same party that burned all the government documents when Ping was brought up to the commission of inquiry? FOIA would kill the PLP party forever. They are waaayyyy to dirty to work with a FOIA...

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realfreethinker 5 years, 7 months ago

Good luck with that FOIA. It's been more that 2 years since it was passed in the house with the plp support and has not been enacted. Could you imagine how long before 'if ever,they will bring a new one ?

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 7 months ago

Wow. Probably never expected that advice...

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Mayaguana34 5 years, 7 months ago

We don't want the truth!! A FOIA goes against the core of our system and takes away the politicians ability to reward his friends and punish his enemies - If something is passed it will not be worth the paper it is written on - I am sorry to tell you but hold your breath if you think useful legislation will see the light of day - this and many other promises have been passed over to the 2017 'Our Plan'

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B_I_D___ 5 years, 7 months ago

They have already said point blank that they don't want to disclose what is legally required of them to dispose through the Public Disclosure Act is it, that requires all the politicians to disclose their earnings and incomes and debts? When the whole Lightbourn debacle hit the fan, so many of those PLP politicians were up in arms about the thought of having to disclose whether they owe property taxes, quoting privacy concerns...well, guess what, you signed up to be an MP or a Senator, and in so doing, you agreed to that Public Disclosure. Now...add FOIA into the mix...HA! We are screwed. Ain't never going to work, not in my lifetime...and if that is critical to make VAT effective, you may as well just shelve VAT right here and now.

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JohnDoes 5 years, 7 months ago

FOIA will expose many of the dirty dealings and incompetency's of the PLP. They were trying to jam VAT down our throats, without sufficient information, education and outreach to the people who will ultimately be taxed on top of double priced products and services. Now that their highly anticipated New Zealand committee 'identified' a lot of what the public was calling for in the first place, they are now up 'shxt' creek trying to find away to blindside the people again. It was the government that was responsible for paying political salaries first without deductions for 'spending' on what the country really needed that resulted in them to take out hefty loans, accept bribes and pay offs from crime syndicates, put foreigners first before the people etc. PLP you can fool some of the people some of the time but NOT All of the people All of the time. The PLP's time in government is slowly but surely coming to an end.

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 7 months ago

The FNM Government had five years to pass the freedom of information act. they waited until the end of their term to pass the act. Pray tell what were they hiding dirty deals and incompetency?

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 7 months ago

Assume the answer is "Yes". Yes, the FNM were hiding dirty deals. The PLP is government of the day they have the chance to demonstrate their forthrightness and transparency, right every wrong and enact policies that the previous bumbling administration didn't.

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Liberty 5 years, 7 months ago

All did need to do is say from 2015 onward information is readily available to the public. Documents prior will have to requested and approved. That way we get the act, the mps have not to worry about their past(truth be told, probably can't do anything about it), this way it gets passed faster!

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SP 5 years, 7 months ago

We all know damn well a Freedom of Information Act and a Fiscal Responsibility Act will NEVER PASS under the PLP or FNM administrations.

Both share so many skeletons in their closets vampires and Dracula himself shudder to think about visiting the Bahamas.

Bermudas new government passed a Freedom of Information Act with-in 45 days of winning the government in 2012.

The FNM and PLP will bullshiet and dance around a Freedom of Information Act FOREVER!!

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 7 months ago

Isn't New Zealand also known for their top notch Anti Fraud and Corruption unit? I now understand Jesus' answer to the rich man who wanted so badly to know what could he possibly do to get in to heaven. ....harder for the camel to go through the eye of a needle......what an answer...

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TheMadHatter 5 years, 7 months ago

Freedom? Information? DId someone actually use BOTH words in the same sentence in the Bahamas? LOL.

Seriously though, all they have to do is put a time limit in the Law. Nothing prior to 2014 can be accessed.

TheMadHatter

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