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Turnquest: Budget Will Not Help Average Bahamians

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K Peter Turnquest

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest said the government’s hype over the tax reductions it will implement on select items for the upcoming fiscal year is misplaced.

He added that it masks the fact that those reductions will make little difference in the lives of the average Bahamian.

This is just one component of the misplaced optimism Mr Turnquest said was in Prime Minister Perry Christie’s 2015/2016 Budget Communication.

During his communication last week, Mr Christie said the revenue performance of value added tax (VAT) since its January roll out has opened the door for several customs duty reductions and some tariff eliminations to ease the burden on Bahamians.

He announced that there would be a reduction in the maximum duty rate for vehicles from 85 per cent to 65 per cent. He also said there will be an outright elimination of duty on several items, including medical equipment, supplies, bicycles, burglar alarms and audio/visual equipment used by churches.

He said the duty rate on canned and frozen vegetables will be reduced, though he did not say by how much.

Such tax reductions, he said, could spur economic growth, the creation of jobs, building repairs and improving the living conditions of Bahamians.

Mr Turnquest does not share this optimism.

“The reality is while it’s nice to have the so-called reduction in duties on vehicles, he didn’t say there is at least an increase of 7.5 per cent VAT on those vehicles,” he said. “The relief they say you are getting you aren’t really getting. It’s not affecting the everyday cost of living for Bahamians, particularly poor Bahamians who don’t buy cars, period. They (members of the government) can bang on desks and say what they want, but the truth remains.”

Mr Turnquest also said he finds it worrisome that the latest budget does not include a breakdown of how the government will pay its interest expenses and debt.

In the past, the government has included headings in its budget book for a breakdown of projected expenditure for Public Debt Servicing.

That, however, is not included in the current budget where Public Debt Servicing is merely referenced under a heading that deals with the Treasury Department.

“That is very, very worrisome,” Mr Turnquest said. “Why isn’t it there? What are they hiding now? We have to be careful when they start doing this reclassification. How does that help with the transparency, particularly now that they are talking about reduction in the GFS deficit?”

A debt and interest-financing breakdown, he said, would have helped Bahamians understand how the government has achieved its touted deficit reductions.

“That way we could see the movements and you could analyse the debt categories and see where the debt reduction has occurred and say whether they are playing games again or doing a great job,” he said.

Last week, Mr Christie said his administration has slashed the deficit by nearly two-thirds.

Comments

TheMadHatter 4 years ago

Nothing can help "average" Bahamians - cause they too like belly-swell. If Govt created 50,000 new jobs over the next 9 months, the people would create 80,000 babies during that same time period. It is a losing game.

TheMadHatter

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newcitizen 4 years ago

We need to start educating that youth about sex. They need to know about birth control options and they need to be informed about consequences of unprotected sex. This should be done in schools and at home.

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TheMadHatter 4 years ago

Yes, but instead of doing this - Bahamians keep GIVING MONEY to the churches who are actively working to stop this education from taking place - because (they say) God made a mistake when he created our disgusting lewd bodies.

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duppyVAT 4 years ago

I want Peter's 10 point plan on how this budget is BAD FOR BAHAMIANS ......... no propaganda............................................. just an accountant's facts list

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Islandgirl 4 years ago

Mr. Turnquest, when you make your budget address, can you also request a budgetary breakdown of how the tens of millions of dollars given to the Ministry of Grand Bahama is being spent? Those fellas always bragging about how that place is booming, but only for them. The vast majority are suffering badly with unemployment being extremely high and businesses closing with increasing frequency. Except for those who brag about the "prosperity" in their version of Grand Bahama, Someone had a whole new refurbished plaza built right after getting into power, together with fully stocked new stores and the movement of a government department into family owned rental spaces, despite having much of the Harold DeGregory building vacant. That's not to mention the destruction of the hotel right next to the Rand that was bought by the previous government and subsequently demolished by this new ministry. I guess to make sure no other alternative to house government offices huh? Rand still very short on beds, medications and equipment. They still have to transport you out to a private spot for certain tests at private cost and everyone always seems to have the same diagnosis. If you can't afford it you are out of luck. Look into that for us will you.

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duppyVAT 4 years ago

Didnt the PLP government appoint a Commission to plan the future of Grand Bahama??????????????? What else can Peter do?????

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Islandgirl 4 years ago

Ask the questions in a public forum where we can hopefully get answers. Bring them to accountability. Everything is a secret, and the tens of millions of dollars have vanished like air. The PLP Commission is WORTHLESS, and nobody is planning a thing other than how they can get a cut of funds already made available and in on any deal coming in to the place. You cannot possibly be that naive.

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