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Fnm Angry Over 'Rushed' Passing Of Vat

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K Peter Turnquest

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PETER Turnquest, FNM Shadow Minister for Finance, expressed concern yesterday over the “rushed” passing of Value Added Tax legislation in Parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Turnquest said the government may have tried to distract Bahamians from VAT by sandwiching debate on the Bill between debates on the constitutional referendum and the revised Gaming Bill, which is expected to be tabled after debate on the referendum Bills have been completed.

VAT was passed in the House on Wednesday night after two days of debate. But Mr Turnquest said parliamentarians should have been given more than 30 minutes to make their contributions on the Bill.

“We are still in the middle of finishing the debate on the constitutional amendment Bills, a significant moment in our democracy and right in the middle you inject something as significant as tax reform?” Mr Turnquest told the House during the debate. “You’re bringing in this new way of taxing people despite the fact that it has not been properly explained in terms of the technical nature of how it will be applied and requirements of it as well as explaining how it will affect the day-to-day lives of people and the safeguards put in to ensure this new tax does not push people down to the poverty line?

“I don’t think they’ve done sufficient work to bring this tax in and I think they rushed this debate. They have heard from the business community, but I don’t believe those consultations have reached the point that we could say with all honesty and transparency that this is the best we have to offer.”

Mr Turnquest said Bahamians have not been properly consulted on VAT, adding that a referendum/opinion poll should have taken place before the government decided to implement the tax.

“I recommended that just like the gaming referendum, they ought to have done the same thing because this is a significant change,” he said. “I believe Bahamians ought to have a voice to decide whether this is something we want or want another alternative. I believe this process was significantly rushed.”

As far as debating important bills in a short period of time, Mr Turnquest said debate on VAT should have been given priority over debate on the constitutional referendum.

“To put constitutional Bills ahead of VAT could have been a distraction against VAT,” he said. “Even the Gaming Bill that will come up, this is all significant legislation and they’re not giving us proper time to air all our concerns. They wanted people to be confused and to take their eye off the ball and they have unfortunately been successful to some extent.”

Mr Turnquest said in order to fully flesh out their views on fiscal reform, parliamentarians should have been given an hour to make their contributions as they are during the annual budget debate.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 4 years, 9 months ago

Build a new jail!! Ismael, Lady P, Leslie, Wendall...

I aint paying VAT!!!!

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TigerB 4 years, 9 months ago

Hey Proud, like you and others I watched and listen to all the talk, my concern is how will they proceed to collect and police Vat. I think this is another mess similar to the property taxes . Millions will be owed

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lionfish 4 years, 9 months ago

It will be a nightmare. For the second time I have been contacted by NIB saying that I did not make contributions on my previous business for dates ranging from 2005-2014. Of course I did make those payments, but they come at me like a criminal. Tell me I have 7 days to make payments or proof of payment. When I closed the business I got a letter of good standing from NIB! So I asked the lady 'who stole my contributions?' She said I cannot assume that. I said ok, if they didn't steal it then 'who is the idiot in bookkeeping?' My attic will be full of this paper for the rest of my life as I am sure this will happen again.

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Sickened 4 years, 9 months ago

I would love to get a list of names showing which members voted for and which members voted against VAT. I will certainly refer to this list during the next campaign trail.

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shortpants 4 years, 9 months ago

sickened here is the list'

VAT is expected to be introduced on January 1 at a rate of 7.5 per cent.

ABSENT

Prime Minister Perry Christie, Centreville (PLP)

Obie Wilchcombe, West End & Grand Bahama (PLP)

Melanie Griffin, Yamacraw (PLP)

Leslie Miller, Tall Pines (PLP)

V Alfred Gray, MICAL (PLP)

Speaker of the House Dr Kendal Major, Garden Hills (PLP)

Edison Key, Central & South Abaco MP (FNM).

House Speaker Kendal Major, and Deputy Speaker Dion Smith, who was in the chair when the vote was taken, could not vote because of their positions.

VOTED NO

Dr Hubert Minnis, Killarney (FNM)

Loretta Butler-Turner, Long Island (FNM)

Peter Turnquest, East Grand Bahama (FNM)

Theo Neilly, North Eleuthera (FNM)

Richard Lightbourn, Montagu (FNM)

Hubert Chipman, St Anne’s (FNM)

Greg Moss, Marco City (PLP)

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 9 months ago

when Turnquest could have brought something up he said "we're in the hands of the finance man". We don't want consultation , the people have said no. It is irresponsible taxation.

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The_Oracle 4 years, 9 months ago

OK, Private sector, do something about it. What will your strategy be? Lethargic complacency as usual? VAT, and other taxes and tax increases to follow are geared for one thing: Appropriate as much private money as possible, skim off the top, and make you do the work. Serfs under penal rule. Government needs to learn the lesson that A happy cow gives milk, A pissed on/pissed off Cow dries up!

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lionfish 4 years, 9 months ago

Sad thing is the private sector is only put out by the compliance and bookkeeping. The general public is forking over the money.

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Nativeson 4 years, 9 months ago

To those who oppose VAT what are your alternatives to generating revenue in this current economic climate? Do you expect this country to continue on with no ability to generate income to support our infrastructure?

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The_Messenger 4 years, 9 months ago

How about fixing the mess that customs duty is because it only collects 50% of what it should be collecting? And cutting down on big government and their reckless spending habits? And creating jobs instead of raising the cost of living because Bahamians are already broke? And taxing the number houses where millions of dollars are dumped out of the country?

VAT is going to fix all the real problems, right?

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 9 months ago

Bring in professional Debt Relief to assist with write offs and funding. Bring in professional Economic Development. Provide accountability so that professionals can interpret the numbers. Recover all missing finances. Discover entitlements. Many economists and lawyers can tell our politicians where tens of billions lay available but are they to be trusted? It is possible to pay off the debt. This is only a hole that our grandchildren will never get out of otherwise. This is ludicrous.

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jackbnimble 4 years, 9 months ago

Do you know how they "rushed" it? By tabling the bill for VAT at the same time that they tabled the Bills for the Constitutional Amendments. While the public was in an uproar over the Constitutional Bills (which was probably set up as the distraction), they simply went ahead and debated VAT. We never knew what hit us. We were too distracted.

Boy, I gatta give it to the PLP. They know how to work the system.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 9 months ago

which is exactly why the referendum should not be held up by ridiculous clouding, as all of these simultaneous presentations are also being used to draw attention away from oil which is going forward.

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jackbnimble 4 years, 9 months ago

Do you know how they "rushed" it? By tabling the bill for VAT at the same time that they tabled the Bills for the Constitutional Amendments. While the public was in an uproar over the Constitutional Bills (which was probably set up as the distraction), they simply went ahead and debated VAT. We never knew what hit us. We were too distracted.

Boy, I gatta give it to the PLP. They know how to work the system.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 9 months ago

Transparency and Accountability needed. Where's the tab on the gov portal that says what's upcoming in HOA?

See example http://www.cacities.org/Policy-Advoca...">http://www.cacities.org/Policy-Advoca...

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 9 months ago

Why were all of the alternatives not tabled? What happened to the public opinion segment?

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The_Oracle 4 years, 9 months ago

The FNM and PLP have been kicking the fiscal can down the road for decades, PLP got holding the bag by the IMF. What is really afoot is the window into the internal economy that VAT accountability will provide. The one area in which the Government is almost completely blind. Who has what, where, and how much they making. In other words, VAT will Generate the required database for instituting Income tax. Not that the money collected will be safeguarded any better than the N.I.B. funds, long since depleted by borrowing, nor will Government shushing and crony contracts and waste end. Also in the VAT bill are the harsh persecutory penalties to be used against any who challenge the Government, if history teaches us anything. Intended to enforce payment, which doesn't happen in any other respect. Wake up and find your current account cleaned out and then go try prove you didn't owe. Ever tried to explain simple accounting to any Government dept when tying to get paid by them? Like trying to tell the Ton Ton Macoute that kindness works better than terror.......

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The_Messenger 4 years, 9 months ago

In FOUR MONTHS the cost of living will skyrocket beyond comprehension in an economy that is already struggling to survive because the cost of living is already beyond comprehension for most Bahamians.

In FOUR MONTHS all businesses will be forced to pay thousands of dollars for new hardware, software, training and accounting help they will need only to implement and collect VAT. Higher costs I might add that will be passed on to Bahamians.

In FOUR MONTHS Bahamians will pay VAT on top of already absurd electricity bills, food, gas and services, EVERYTHING will cost more money then it does now. BUT a few shady businesses will not be paying VAT because certain cough Bahamians also profit from illegal gambling which has sucked the country dry and into debt.

Has everyone, regardless if you oppose VAT or not read the VAT Guide in it's entirety, understand it fully and honestly believe there will not be mass chaos and riots on January 1st?

https://www.bahamas.gov.bs/wps/wcm/co...">https://www.bahamas.gov.bs/wps/wcm/co...

In FOUR MONTHS...

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