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Gov't 'dragging on everything'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Tax Coalition’s co-chair yesterday said there ad been no contact with the Government since the Budget’s unveiling more than a month ago, complaining that the Christie administration was “dragging their feet on everything” vital to the private sector.

Robert Myers told Tribune Business that he had been “apprehensive” about heading to the US for six weeks at a critical time for Bahamian businesses, but said he had been unable to communicate with Prime Minister Perry Christie or any Cabinet Minister post-Budget.

Mr Myers, who is also the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) chairman, said it appeared as if the Government was unable to multi- task and could only tackle one issue at a time - first fiscal reform and Value-Added Tax (VAT), then gaming reform/web shop regulation.

With less than six months to go before the revised 7.5 per cent VAT is supposed to be implemented on January 1, 2015, the Government and the private sector are at a critical point in terms of preparation and readiness for the new tax.

But there has been little sign of a renewed push to educate the private sector, and consumers, on VAT post-Budget debate, and the three-person Task Force that the Prime Minister announced would lead this effort has yet to be appointed.

“We’ve not had a meeting since the Budget over a month ago,” Mr Myers said of the Coalition for Responsible Taxation’s dealings with the Government.

“We’re here. We’re available, but we can’t sit at the table on our own. I was a little apprehensive going away for the summer, but it seems as if these guys don’t care.

“I’m not sitting there, waiting for the phone to ring. I can’t get a response by the Prime Minister, anybody, whether by phone call or e-mail.”

This potentially places VAT’s seamless implementation in jeopardy if the Government fails to move quickly, and Mr Myers said the Bahamas would not achieve the 5.5 per cent growth rate cited by an IMF working paper as necessary to slash unemployment by 50 per cent, and absorb all school leavers, unless there was a major proactivity transformation.

“It’s not going to happen unless the Government really starts making decisions,” he told Tribune Business. “Unless they get serious about making us competitive in labour, energy costs, and taxes, it’s not going to happen anyway. There are too many other opportunities around the world.

“Unfortunately, I’m not sure they understand. They’re dragging their feet on everything. Energy reform, nothing. Small business reform, nothing.”

The BCCEC chairman added: “They can’t seem to do more than one thing at a time. They’ve focused on the gaming bill and making web shops legal.

“They need to be able to walk, talk and shoot gum at the same time to get 5.5 per cent growth. That’s the reality. They’re going to have to be more multi-tasking, multi-responsive.”

Mr Myers said he did want to criticise all the Government was doing, singling out Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments, for “busting his hip” to get more foreign direct investment (FDI) into this nation.

“But we need so much more to happen,” he added. “We need to set up the environment for growth, the environment for investment, and we can’t seem to put it together. It’s frustrating.

“There is a lot of opportunity, but government is not opening it up to allow it to happen. That’s the sad part.”

Comments

The_Oracle 8 years, 6 months ago

A classic outcome when Government inserts itself in the middle of everything, and yet does nothing, understands nothing. What should otherwise be simple will prove to be cumbersome, inefficient, and very costly to the private sector, the public and therefore Government itself. Micromanaging without skills is by definition, our Government.

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