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‘Shameful That Halkitis Cannot Explain Where Vat Has Gone’

FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis.

FNM leader Dr Hubert Minnis.

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday said it is “shameful” that after two hours on the radio airwaves, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis could not explain to the Bahamian people “where the VAT money gone”.

He was responding to Mr Halkitis’ defensive demeanour to criticism of a value added tax (VAT) speech he gave at the PLP convention last week.

In a statement, Dr Minnis said Mr Halkitis’ explanation on where the revenue from VAT went was “inadequate and insulting” and “does not reflect the type of servant leadership that the Bahamian people desire”.

On Monday, Mr Halkitis, while appearing as a guest on “The Revolution” with host Juan McCartney maintained that the VAT money is being used to pay down the national debt as well as defray other government expenses.

He also insisted that there can never be a true account of where the VAT money is spent because the money “goes into the consolidated fund with all other government revenue”.

This was a different tone from the approach he took last Tuesday, when he announced that the government spent “millions of dollars” on roads, facilitated a new fleet of aircraft at a cost of $100 million, invested in a new fleet for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force at a cost of $232 million and several million was spent to fund repairs after both Hurricane Matthew and Joaquin. “That’s where the VAT money gone,” he said repeatedly.

He also claimed that VAT revenue was being invested in new schools, however no new schools have been built under this administration.

Throughout the show, Mr Halkitis was accused by another journalist of being disingenuous during his convention speech because many of the projects he claimed the VAT money has gone towards were actually serviced by loans.

“Michael Halkitis has done a great disservice to the Bahamian people by continuing to obfuscate on exactly how the people’s VAT dollars have been spent,” Dr Minnis said on Tuesday.

“It is shameful that a member of Parliament, who is answerable to the people, and a certified financial analyst to boot, would consider it a viable excuse that he was unable to explain how the people’s money has been spent because he only had 10 minutes to speak at his party’s recent convention. Mr Halkitis had two hours to explain himself on national radio, and still could only offer one insulting and inadequate excuse after the next.

“The minister even denigrated his own party supporters by saying that his speech at convention was aimed at PLPs and ‘not bankers or accountants’. What a disgrace. This type of behaviour is far from honourable, and does not reflect the type of servant leadership that the Bahamian people desire. This type of elitist behaviour is unbefitting for a minister of the government who works for, and on our behalf.”

Dr Minnis said an FNM government would be transparent and accountable to the people.

“It is now clear, more than ever, that it will be up to your Free National Movement government, to provide the people with a true accounting of our VAT money,” Dr Minnis said.

“The Bahamian people desire transparency and accountability. They will receive both under the Free National Movement. We urge all Bahamians who have had enough of the excuses to register to vote. This is your time to show this government that enough is enough.”

Nearly, $1 billion has been collected since the implementation of VAT in January 2015.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 10 months ago

Even more shameful the Dimwitted Doc does not know where the VAT has gone!

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Publius 3 years, 10 months ago

‘Shameful That Halkitis Cannot Explain Where Vat Has Gone’

Yes. Equally as shameful? In two Budget years of VAT, Minnis has never ever been able to hold the government accountable in or outside of the House for this. Parliament knows that Minnis has a hard time even reading and understanding the Budget. At one point during the Committee Stage of last year's passage, PLP Members began laughing at him as he struggled with trying to put questions forward for Budget items he clearly did not understand. This is why the Opposition is so critical. We have a crooked government, but no one in the House capable and skilled enough to apply the appropriate pressure and who has a strong enough command of the fiscal issues so as to cause the citizenry to understand what is happening and what is at stake.

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Honestman 3 years, 10 months ago

Who in Minnis's cabinet in waiting is going to be the financial genius that leads the country out of this financial mess?

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Publius 3 years, 10 months ago

I'll take Trick Questions for $200 Alex!

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birdiestrachan 3 years, 10 months ago

The Bahamas economic state. The FNM party has contributed to it. They are, not without fault. In 2007 Their Papa on the floor of the house said the treasury was flush.Their Papa built a lot of buildings and Roads. The roads may have been necessary. But, the Buildings ?? during 2007 and 2012 Borco was sold twice and there was the BTC Fire sale.

The Bahamas. and all of our family Islands, Schools and hospitals not to mention the jail. should be improved. Bahamians do not like to pay taxes.

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John 3 years, 9 months ago

The reason why the government cannot explain where the VAT money gone is because they are continuing to squander money of pet projects and expenses for friends, family and lovers. There has been no cut backs since the PLP came to office. And despite the US coming out of recession in 2013 and having near full employment when Barak Obama left office last month, The Bahamas continues to have double digit unemployment and a weakening economy. The government has offered no stimulus to the local economy or no incentives to local businesses. And as the economy continues to shrink, so will the VAT monies. So when they (the government) drains the VAT well dry, where else will they turn to for additional funds? Bahamian businesses cannot give up and more for taxes...

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John 3 years, 9 months ago

"Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) chief regional economist yesterday accused the Bahamas of squandering the Caribbean’s “most successful Value-Added Tax” by failing to act in a fiscally prudent manner.

Marla Dukharan, in a harsh verdict on the Christie administration’s fiscal policies and achievements, said it had failed to slash the Bahamas’ annual fiscal deficits “in the way it had planned”.

Addressing Royal Fidelity’s Economic Business Outlook (EBO) conference, she called for the Bahamas to implement so-called ‘fiscal rules’ to cap government spending and establish a debt ceiling.

And she warned that the Government’s fiscal profligacy could ultimately impose pressure on the Bahamian dollar, and its one:one peg with its US counterpart."

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 9 months ago

Halkitis knows where the leakages in the Ministry of Finance (and other Ministries) are ........... but he cannot reveal it because the whole Cabinet will be on their way to Fox Hill Prison ....... Well over $1.5 billion not accounted for by the government (via creative financing) and another $1 billion of overpriced contracts and ghost jobs to cronies.

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John 3 years, 9 months ago

You do the math: when the vat was introduced in 2015, there was no growth in the Bahamian economy so VAT in reality took 7.5% of all the money that was flowing in the economy. The only way to replace it was either people had to take loans or the government had to make loans or persons had to dig into their savings and inject money back into the economy. There was additional shrinkage in 2016, so again there was less funds in circulation. The VAT revenue for fourth quarter 2016 was down by 6.5% meaning that economic activity was also down, at least by this amount. Unemployment figures tend to bare this out as unemployment numbers are more than when government came to office. This is despite Christie claims that his government created over 32,000 jobs. Ok so they expect Bah Mar to open (at least partially )in 2017, but look they are losing more jobs in Grand Bahama than the first phased opening of Bah Mar will create. So there may be a chance of less people working in the first half of 2017 than were working in 2016. Less employment, less economic activity, less government revenue, including VAT. So if government does not cut back on spending what happens? The facts pure and simple is that the PLP government, at the present hour, has this country in a worst state, economically, than they met in in 4 1/2 years ago. Simply because they did not control spending and reduce government wastage or lack of accounting for funds (corruption). They were not successful in driving the economy upwards and reducing unemployment.

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BMW 3 years, 9 months ago

We must vote these crooks out before the ruin our country

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 9 months ago

That Halkitis guy is nothing but a fooking dishonest SOB. The VAT regime was introduced for the purpose of reducing our national debt and decreasing our debt to GDP ratio. That was the solemn promise and undertaking made to the Bahamian people by Christie and Halkitis alike. Now this bone headed hot aired lying Halkitis, after using our VAT dollars to significantly grow the government and fund a multitude of wasteful projects, wants to make us believe that our national debt would be through the roof were it not for VAT. But that can only be true if Crooked Christie and his most dishonest gopher, Halkitis, have used our VAT dollars to very significantly increase the size of our costly non-productive inefficient corrupt government at just about all levels! This moron Halkitis should be taken to one of our national parks for stoning by the Bahamian people who have been robbed of the VAT dollars they paid over to the government.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 9 months ago

MINNIS, AND MINNIS ALONE, WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PLP WINNING THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION AGAINST IMPOSSIBLE ODDS IF HE DOESN'T TURN THE FNM OVER TO JUST ABOUT ANYONE ELSE.....BUT FIRST HE SHOULD HELP WITH THE DUMPING THE VERY GREEDY AND CORRUPT IDIOT, SIDNEY COLLIE, WHO CURRENTLY SERVES AS THE PARTY'S CHAIRMAN. NO ONE IS GOING TO VOTE FOR THE FNM IF MINNIS AND/OR COLLIE ARE STILL IN THE PICTURE COME ELECTION TIME. THAT'S THE SIMPLE REALITY OF THE SITUATION AND CROOKED CHRISTIE KNOWS IT AND MINNIS MUST NOW STRONGLY SENSE IT. THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE WILL MAKE MINNIS THE MOST HATED BREATHING BAHAMIAN IF HE INSISTS ON SINGLE HANDEDLY BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR GIVING THE CORRUPT CROOKED CHRISTIE-LED PLP GOVERNEMNT ANOTHER FIVE YEARS DURING WHICH TIME THEY WILL COMPLETELY DESTROY THE BAHAMAS.

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