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Minnis Reveals Tax Break Plans

FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis.

FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis.

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

FREE National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr Hubert Minnis last evening bashed Prime Minister Perry Christie for his level of representation in the Centreville constituency over the past 40 years, while stressing that the government is “running scared” of the FNM’s “change team”.

He also spoke to the reported irregularities in the Parliamentary Registration Department’s 2017 voter register, warning the government that 2017 “is not like 1987.”

“They stole it (an election) in 1987 but they will not ‘tief’ it in 2017,” he said, as he predicted a general election date of May 2.

Addressing supporters during the FNM’s regional candidates launch at Christie Park, Dr Minnis also insisted that the level of care shown to Centreville was in line with the level of care the governing PLP has shown the entire Bahamas.

“The PLP lacks compassion,” said Dr Minnis.

“They don’t care about our health or our lives. That’s why they covered up the Rubis spill. It’s why they let the dump get out of control. It is why they haven’t built a single school in five years. That’s why FNMs they haven’t finished hospitals in Grand Bahama and the Family Islands.

“The PLP made the problems at BEC worse by bringing in a company that made a complete mess of things. An uncaring PLP put VAT on breadbasket items, making things worse for poor people.

“The FNM will remove VAT off breadbasket items. Your FNM government would not tolerate wastage. You would be able to see and touch where the VAT money will go.”

Dr Minnis said the FNM’s slate of candidates has the PLP afraid of losing the next election.

He said Mr Christie is on the ground campaigning with an entourage of 40 people, adding that many residents have told him they have not seen the nation’s leader for years.

“He is very scared that he will lose his seat. I have news for you: Christie will lose Centreville.”

“He will be the first sitting prime minister who will be kicked out of his constituency.

“They had a rally in the classroom the other day, they are afraid to have a rally outside so they called it (a) constituency meeting. They had great difficulty even filling the classroom.

“Scores of PLPs have decided to vote FNM. Even much of the PLP base can’t take five more years of Perry Christie.

“We can’t take five more years of VAT money going missing. We can’t take five more years of record unemployment. We can’t take five more years of the PLP risking our health and lives because of their neglect at Rubis, at the dump, and at Clifton. We can’t take five more years of mass corruption . . . We can’t take five more years of Christie diving for conch (falling asleep) day and night.”

The Killarney MP also used his remarks Thursday to address the government use of law enforcement agencies and the justice system to create a “police state”.

“I remind the PLP that this is a democracy; not a police state. I believe that musicians should refrain from making remarks about the lives of the families of politicians. But bad taste and offensive language doesn’t mean that the police should come knocking at your door,” said Dr Minnis.

“If the PLP wins again, we will go back to the victimising days of the Pindling era when the government tried to intimidate anyone who criticised them. The PLP doesn’t believe in democracy.

“That’s why Christie absolutely ignored the results of the gambling referendum. In today’s PLP, if you want your court case dismissed, just be a former client of the attorney general so you can get a nolle to make your case disappear.”

Tax reform

Dr Minnis also spoke of his party’s regularly touted tax plans, announcing three major initiatives aimed at alleviating tax burdens on inner city communities, pensioners and potential entrepreneurs if elected to office.

Dr Minnis said his party, once elected, would look to launch a programme of further real property tax discounts and rebates for all pensioners over 65 who pay property tax and qualify for the plan.

The Killarney MP specified that the proposed programme would apply to the primary residence of the approved homeowners.

Additionally, Dr Minnis said a government led by him would instate a programme of “far-reaching” and “targeted” tax initiatives geared toward stimulating businesses throughout inner-city communities.

On his tax plans, Dr Minnis said: “We will help the people in the inner city to invest in their own communities by using the tax code to spur jobs, economic activity and investment.”

He continued: “Within this inner-city tax-free zone, there will be no import duties on construction materials for residential and commercial buildings; no real property tax or business licence fees; no taxes on household furniture within the inner-city; no taxes on business equipment after proper vetting and finally reduced duty on special vehicles necessary for your businesses.”

Further to these two initiatives, Dr Minnis said his party would look to create a Council of Economic Advisors.

According to the former minister of health, the mission of this council would be to offer the “best advice on economic growth and development” to perspective entrepreneurs.

Of the initiative, Dr Minnis said: “No government has all the answers. We need the ideas, creativity, experience and wisdom of a broad cross-section of Bahamians and residents to help spur growth and boost our economy.”

He furthered: “One of the tasks of the Council of Advisers is to help develop concrete ideas for diversification within tourism, our main industry, and diversification throughout the economy.

“We must urgently boost growth and GDP for broad scale economic development and in the interest of boosting government revenue. The government has become too reliant on certain taxes as a first resort as a source of revenue.

“Economic growth will help to stabilise government finances.”

Dr Minnis said in order to create economic growth, cut energy costs and address environmental concerns, the FNM, if elected, would also look to launch a national solarisation programme that will help many thousands of consumers to cut their electricity costs and cut the country’s fuel import bill.

Last evening’s event was the FNMs official regional launch of Free Town candidate Dionisio D’Aguilar, Centreville candidate Reece Chipman, Bain and Grants Town candidate Travis Robinson, St Barnabas candidate Shanendon Cartwright and Englerston candidate Raymond Rolle.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 7 months ago

You can read between the lines and quickly understand that we would all be doomed under this man. Not one word about our failed public education system. His inner-city small business incentive programs would do nothing but grow our social welfare costs because it's targeted at the largely uneducated, many of whom are unable to read, write or do basic maths. There will be even more 'targeting' of the diminishing number of wealthy foreigners and wealthy Bahamians to try pay for the enormous growth in social welfare costs that will ensue.

Minnis once again avoids articulating a passionate commitment to undertake the following initiatives, a couple of which are only very lightly touched on in the FNM manifesto:

1) Hold a Royal Commission of Enquiry to investigate many of the egregious instances of corruption, fraud and outright theft that have occurred during the last five years;

2) Pass meaningful and enforceable freedom of information legislation with few exceptions or loop holes for the government and politicians of the day;

3) Make legislative amendments to close financial disclosure loop holes and introduce enforceable penalties of substance for MPs and Senators who fail to comply with their financial disclosure requirements;

4) Establish by legislation a formal Office for a truly Independent Director of Prosecutions in order to once and for all put an end the government's ability to wrongfully interfere with the judiciary through its de facto executive (PM) control of the Office of the Attorney General;

5) The wholesale repeal of the gaming web shop legislation;

6) Establish a National Lottery, the profits from which would be earmarked solely for the purpose of contributing to the financial needs of our public education system;

7) Tighten existing legislation to give the Office of the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee the biting teeth they need to discharge their important duties in the way intended and expected; and

8) Introduce campaign finance reform legislation to avoid the will of Bahamian voters being thwarted by large amounts of 'tainted' money directed at politicians by the likes of Sebas Bastian, Craig Flowers, Peter Nygard, Christie's Red China friends.

As I've said repeatedly, a passionate commitment by Minnis and the FNM to implement just these eight major initiatives alone would go a long ways towards putting our country on even keel. But "No", Minnis once again refuses to do so. He instead prefers to ramble on and on ad nauseum about how the Christie-led PLP government has failed the Bahamian people. It's as if Minnis and the FNM believe they need not commit to anything on our behalf. That just can't be right and should give each voter serious pause for thought!

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Reality_Check 2 years, 7 months ago

Amazing that Minnis said little or nothing about what he would do to address our failed public education system. We have a desperate need for vocational training schools supported by apprenticeship programs to try sop up some of the unemployment while addressing serious skill shortages in our society, e.g. well trained plumbers, carpenters, electricians, masons, auto mechanics, etc.

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TalRussell 2 years, 7 months ago

Comrades! Red Party Leader Minnis is not promising much more than the prime minister - by only promising if elected PM, his red administration will eliminate VAT on breadbasket items to make things better for poor people.
Doesn't the middle class eats their breakfasts too?

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B_I_D___ 2 years, 7 months ago

Tinkering too much with the VAT is a BAD thing. Most of the smaller stores have quite simply started to use the sales tax feature in their cash registers that default 7.5% on the total bill, they are not all fancy and computerized and able to break out that 10 out of the 30 items in that persons shopping basket are VAT exempt. You'll need to run the register twice, once for the VAT stuff, and once for the VAT exempt stuff. Then you open up a can of worms back in the VAT Audit office, when all of a sudden, your total sales don't reflect your true potential VAT input, which right now is a clean ratio and within maybe a fraction of a percent either way, should be pretty easy to calculate. Start putting exemptions in there and that magic ratio you need to look for goes out the window and it's guess work after that, start asking for audits, and you are going through every dang cash register ticker tape trying to figure out what was exempt and what wasn't. it's simple as it stands just now, don't over complicate it!!

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John 2 years, 7 months ago

Minnis did say a mouthful and did give a bellyful of hope to those in the inner city, who do not normally attend non-PLP rallies, well only for the food and drinks and music. But this Election 2017, the crowd is attentive, and seems well informed about the issues. And yes, many have abandoned the PLP, so much so that Perry Chrisite and Bernard Nottage, seem to be in trouble. They will have to fight an up-hill battle to retain their seats. And the claim is the switch to red is duplicated on many Family Islands, so the battle to retain the government will also be a tough one. But remember it is said that Hubert Ingraham lost the last election in the final few days of campaigning. This electorate is not as volatile as 2012, and they are more fed up and more desperate..for a change for the better. And eventually they will have to realize, if there is a change of government, everything will not happen overnight. . .. *“We will help the people in the inner city to invest in their own communities by using the tax code to spur jobs, economic activity and investment.”

He continued: “Within this inner-city tax-free zone, there will be no import duties on construction materials for residential and commercial buildings; no real property tax or business licence fees; no taxes on household furniture within the inner-city; no taxes on business equipment after proper vetting and finally reduced duty on special vehicles necessary for your businesses.”*

This is a good idea to try to revitalize and rebuild the inner-cities. For decades the tax breaks and concessions were given to the large companies who, for the most part,happen to be foreign owned or multinational. The benefits (of the tax breaks) were not as great as they should be because these companies exported their profits and their savings and so the spin off was minimal. Many middle class or lower class Bahamians have seen their status eroded and downgraded due to the ongoing recession and the heavy tax burden they have put on their backs. For this country to survive this government must spread the tax burden more widely, over the entire economy while, at the same time, causing more dollars to remain in the Bahamas. For that to happen Bahamians must no longer just be employees. Opportunities must be made available for them to participate in every sector of the economy, including tourism ,banking, real estate development aviation and shipping and retail and wholesale. Just how the government could give $1.5 billion in concessions to Bah Mar, it can give smaller concessions to small groups of Bahamians to develop smaller hotel properties and other businesses throughout the Bahamas. Donald Trump says "Americans and America first.' And, yes BEC must be fixed, not just a band-aid soultion. And a permanent fix must be found for the dump.

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John 2 years, 7 months ago

I would like to see a lot of the taxes consolidated and others made to disappear. It is costly to have to keep track and separate accounting for all the various taxes and it is also burdensome for businesses to have to account, for business licence, property tax, national insurance tax, vat tax, customs service tax. Government for example can add 1/2 or 1/4% on to either the VAT tax or customs duties and eliminate the business licence tax. So business would be on a 'pay as you go' plan and not have to worry about finding this huge lump sum at the beginning of each year, especially when VAT is also due at the same time. So they increase the VAT by 1/2, eliminate the Business licence fees and then companies would pay $100.00 to register their business each year, and $50.00 for each location in operation. The government will also benefit from this as there will be less paper work and accounting, and government will be relizing a steady stream of revenue, rather than waiting for the beginning of the year and companies do not have the money to pay.

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TalRussell 2 years, 7 months ago

Comrades! You think Minnis, would want write something in the Red Party's 2017 General Election Manifesto - about the indignity as a tourism dependent nation to allow dog owners to parade around town while walking their dogs and with no underpants on to cover they dogs privacy things. What a scandal for the children's of tourists on our beaches to be exposed such nasty things.
Regardless which party forms the new government - we here in Bahamaland can set the underpants standard for all the Caribbean countries to adopt the policy of covering up the privacy things we dogs. Even the dogs are tired of their privacy things being on full tourism display.

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John 2 years, 7 months ago

TalRussel, I am convinced. So is everyone else.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 7 months ago

Minnis MUST inspire the inner city to do better ............. he is a product of the inner city ........ He has the inner city spirit of "boot strap empowerment" .......... It will be up to him to implement "The Greater Over-The Hill Redevelopment Plan" that was promised by Pindling in 1967 but never delivered in 50 years ........... This can define Minnis' legacy

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 7 months ago

Sadly a speedy devaluation of the Bahamian dollar is more likely to define Minnis' legacy. Many like me are truly worried and have done what we can to shield ourselves and our families from what would undoubtedly come much sooner than later if Minnis should ever become PM.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 7 months ago

We must have HOPE that an FNM Cabinet can do in 2017 what occurred back in 1992 ............ If you are old enough to remember how BAD OFF the PLP had the country at that time .......... Mudda don't lose hope in 2017

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sengli02 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm I the only one that noticed the word (thief) is misspelled (thif)?

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