By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
FNM DEPUTY Leader Loretta Butler Turner yesterday criticised the government for not allowing the Opposition an opportunity to sit down with the New Zealand Value Added Tax experts.
Speaking to The Big T, Mrs Butler Turner said the only reason she suggested that government consider a payroll tax, possibly coupled with a national lottery, instead of VAT is because the government seems to be in a “ball of confusion”.
“When I spoke about the payroll tax it was born out of the fact that at this late stage government has not come to the public with anything concrete. It was my personal perspective, and it does not represent the opinions of the FNM, because they have not articulated a position. If we had the advantage of being able to speak with the VAT experts we may have had another position,” she said.
“We were invited to meet with them and then the following day we were uninvited. The invitation was extended by Maurice Tynes in the House of Assembly. So I take exception to the gentleman suggesting that we aren’t willing to cooperate. If we had the opportunity to meet then we could be open to what they are suggesting.
“After reading what the experts said I am certainly amenable to it, but I did not have the advantage of hearing their view. I am still confused how they could issue an invitation one day and less than 24 hours later uninvite it. It is a ball of confusion. I do not want to enter dialogue against these people. My comments were taken out of context.”
Mrs Butler Turner was responding to comments made by New Zealand VAT tax expert , Dr Don Brash, who said introducing VAT to the Bahamas would go more smoothly if the Opposition stands with the government. The New Zealand experts have now left the Bahamas.
Dr Brash also added that Mrs Butler Turner’s suggestion of payroll tax instead of VAT is not the best choice for the Bahamas.
“I noticed in The Tribune that the Opposition party is proposing to scrap the VAT and replace it with payroll tax. We strongly feel like VAT is a stronger tax than payroll tax, but in New Zealand every political party in Parliament supports VAT. We feel that is one of the reasons it has been a success,” he said.
On Monday, Michael Halkitis, State Minister for Finance, said that if VAT comes on stream this year it would not be until the last quarter. However, VAT experts have suggested an implementation date of April, 2015.
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