PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts.
BRADLEY Roberts has accused Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis of “deceiving” the Bahamian people with campaign promises to repeal value added tax (VAT) on electricity, healthcare and breadbasket items only to “back peddle” from these pledges in the Speech from the Throne.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) chairman also accused Dr Minnis of “duping” voters into supporting the Free National Movement (FNM).
“Dr Minnis is beginning his term in office on a losing wicket because he deceived the Bahamian people when he campaigned on promises to repeal VAT on electricity, healthcare services and breadbasket items only to back-peddle and move away from those campaign promises in the Speech from the Throne after duping tens of thousands of Bahamian voters into supporting the FNM. He stands on a shaky foundation of broken promises and electoral deceit.
“These broken promises represent electoral fraud of the worst kind. Minnis’ message to the Bahamian electorate was fake news all along.”
Before the election, Dr Minnis promised that the FNM would remove VAT on breadbasket items, education, water and light bills, medicine, healthcare and insurance.
However in the Speech from the Throne, read at the opening of Parliament on Wednesday, it was noted that the government intends to reduce VAT on breadbasket items, but not to repeal the tax on these items, or the other areas repeatedly mentioned by Dr Minnis.
When contacted about this last week, Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said the government is “committed” to the promises made ahead of the election.
“I won’t speak to the wording (of the statement about VAT made in the Speech from The Throne),” Mr Turnquest said on Thursday. “We are committed to the promises (we made during the campaign). We want to live with that commitment.”
Meanwhile, Mr Roberts took issue with items he said were missing from Wednesday’s speech.
“Further, as significant as Baha Mar is to the economy of the Bahamas and was to the Minnis election campaign message, an FNM policy on Baha Mar was noticeably absent from the Speech from the Throne. Why was that? Did Minnis still not want to offend one foreigner after receiving an overwhelming electoral mandate from tens of thousands of Bahamians? Why is that?
“The PLP promised to place a cap on the interests and fees charged to civil servants who secure loans from local commercial banks on salary deductions. This policy proposal will benefit tens of thousands of Bahamians and protect them from onerous and burdensome bank fees. The PLP publicly challenges the FNM government to adopt and implement this policy because after all, it is the people’s time.”
He also said: “Other noticeable policy absentees from the Speech from the Throne were energy reform, food security, and the very important plans for the economic recovery of Grand Bahama. What is the policy of the FNM on the sale of the three hotels in Lucaya, a new casino operator, duty free concessions for businesses in east and west Grand Bahama and the cruise port for East Grand Bahama? The PLP government left a strong foundation of progress for Grand Bahama’s future with several projects in the advanced stages of development.
“ . . . If the FNM has a plan for the future growth and development of Grand Bahama, the people must hear it from Minnis. To date, the FNM appears not to have a plan for Grand Bahama,” Mr Roberts said.