Bradley Roberts and Gregory Moss
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
PLP chairman Bradley Roberts criticised Marco City MP Greg Moss yesterday for speaking “out of turn” when he said implementing value added tax “goes against the principles of the party”.
During his budget contribution in the House of Assembly last week, Mr Moss also said VAT will hurt rather than help the poor.
Mr Moss said the founding principle of the PLP is to protect the poor and vulnerable in the country and the implementation of VAT will “drive people further into poverty.”
When contacted for comment, Mr Roberts said while the PLP welcomes differing views, Mr Moss is “on a course that obviously only he is on”.
“The party went to great lengths to research VAT and explain to the Bahamian people why VAT is the best choice,” the PLP chairman said.
“The process started under the FNM but was pretty much imposed on us by an international agency. Greg Moss must not understand or was not paying attention,” he said.
“He is on a course all on his own. He expressed himself but he obviously did not understand what the facts (are) here. Maybe you should call him and ask him what he will support. What exactly is it that he is advocating? What is his alternative to VAT? If he does not support it then maybe he should tell the Bahamian people what he does support.”
However, FNM Chairman Darron Cash said Mr Moss’ comments showed how far off course the Christie administration has veered.
“Mr Moss is right that Perry Christie has betrayed the best ideals of the PLP,” Mr Cash said in a statement released to The Tribune yesterday. “This is the only thing he was ‘ready’ to do from day one.
“Specifically with respect to VAT, Moss is right on point. VAT, and its accompanying wet blanket of double taxation, has the potential to - in Moss’s words - ‘drive people further into poverty.’ It is a sad testament to Perry Christie’s legacy as the father of the House that he seems not to care about what VAT will do to his own constituents. He seems out of touch and his own MP reminds us of this fact.”
During debate in the House on Wednesday night, Mr Moss reiterated concerns he has about the proposed new tax.
Mr Moss said: “It doesn’t benefit the country to take rich white people and replace them with rich black people. What benefits the country is to create opportunity, which is what the PLP has always been about – education, housing, lending, everything. That has always been the drive of the PLP, but to drive people further into poverty is not the role of our party, as I see it.”
He also said he would not support VAT and that the government should consider implementing income tax.
Earlier this year, Mr Moss said he believes the PLP will lose the next general election if they implemented VAT. He said it would be an affront to the PLP and a betrayal of the Bahamian people.
“Pass this and we will lose the next election”, he said. “We are at the point where we can see the cliff, but we can still turn around. This proposal is not who we are, we uplift people, this is unpatriotic and un-PLP. This is the FNM’s brainchild. We should not enact this.”
During his 2014/2015 budget communication, Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed the government has delayed VAT’s implementation from July 1 this year to January 1, 2015.
The government has also decided to introduce the tax at a broad rate of 7.5 per cent, instead of the initially proposed rate of 15 per cent.
The government has said it will expand its social safety net programme by as much as $30m to offset any negative effect VAT will have on the poor.
However, Mr Cash said the government must immediately explain how the safety net will work and how the funds will be allocated.