EDITOR, The Tribune.
We are now living in a society that is upside down.
I am just off the phone with a former employee. She told me that she was arrested March 3, 2014, for an outstanding traffic ticket from 2005. The arrest occurred at 10:30am. She was put into a cell and released at 6pm.
I agree wholeheartedly that if you break the law you should pay.
However, let’s get the right perspective.
Webshops have been declared illegal by the courts.
In response to a referendum-like poll, the people rejected legalising webshops.
And yet, operations continue unabated – if anything, there is an expansion in progress.
The Governor of The Central Bank, states that the money acquired through webshops, is akin to money laundering.
What are we to do?
The lotteries and Gaming Act provides the government the means to legitimise web shops. There is an opportunity to put the Robin Hood approach on a correct foundation.
The benefit of this move would be the collection of substantial income for the country. Whether true or false, I am told that each leader of a webshop operation nets between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000 per week. Do the math for, say, four major operations. I say a least 50 per cent of that money should go to government. Imagine $100,000,000 a year going into The Public Treasury.
There should be tough, but fair licensing requirements just like the ones imposed upon Bahamian Casinos. Quite frankly in today’s circumstances there are no differences in operations, except that net proceeds for webshops end up in the pockets of a few.
Our overarching theme should be “Gamble to Give Back” – in the US – “of the 43 states (plus DC) that have lotteries, 37 funnel proceeds toward education,” (Men’s Health).
Why can’t we do the same?
We claim to live under the Rule of Law. Are we really doing that?
One final point – there should be a natural progression to tax reform. Let’s get $100,000,000 a year from the illegal operations and then push hard for VAT or some other form of a tax. I feel that Bahamians will feel better about going forward.
We have a chance to get it right. Let’s do it.
J BARRIE FARRINGTON, CBE,
March 4, 2014.