Bishop’s criticism of tax ‘premature’

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest in the House of Assembly. File Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest in the House of Assembly. File Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff


Bishop Delton Fernander, President of the Christian Council. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff


Deputy Chief Reporter


BAHAMAS Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander’s criticism of government over the value added tax increase during the Independence Day celebration was “unfortunate” and “premature”, Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest has said.

Mr Turnquest branded it as such because he is slated to discuss the 2018-2019 budget with the BCC today.

He also seemed to disapprove of the platform Bishop Fernander used to make the statements, saying “it’s not a day for negative talk”.

In remarks at the country’s 45th independence celebration at Clifford Park, Bishop Fernander called for the country to be led by “progressive innovation” as opposed to regressive policies such as tax increases.

He also urged the fight for a Bahamas “emancipated from segregation and colonial” precepts to continue.

Asked yesterday to respond to these comments on the sidelines of a Bahamas Chamber of Commerce event, Mr Turnquest said: “I think it’s unfortunate in the context of the discussion. We in fact have a meeting set up with the Christian Council to go through the budget I believe tomorrow, if not early next week, to go through the budget and why we are where we are.

“I think his comments may have been a bit premature in that regard because he may not necessarily have the full view of what we are faced with, but we will have those discussions with the council and hopefully at the end of the day come to a conclusion that we are on the right path in consideration of everything.”

He also said: “That’s the venue that he chose. I think, as I say to some of the groups that I am involved in, independence is a very special time when we celebrate what is good about this country and the advancements we have made that we should be rightfully proud of. It’s not the day for negative talk, but again I choose to celebrate what’s good about the Bahamas and certainly we are very proud of 45 years of solid democracy, solid advancement as a people, as a community and we honour those who led the way in the past, those named heroes as well as unsung heroes who continue to put their shoulder to the wheel every day advancing the country.”

The BCC president also called for the country to abandon colonial systems and hinted at the need to shift from the Westminster system, 45 years after independence. He was referring to the controversial firing of three Free National Movement members of Parliament from their government appointments for voting against the value added tax increase.

In this regard Mr Turnquest said: “No matter where you are in the world, when you talk about collective responsibility as a government, no matter the form of the government, that is a principal that is undisputed. While we all have a God-given right to speak our minds, at the end of the day when the government makes a decision it is incumbent of all those who are a part of it, particularly the decision-making body, to support it and to ensure that the opportunities and challenges are explained to the Bahamian people.

“We talk about this Westminster system as if it is some big animal out there disadvantaging people. That is not the case. Most countries around the world have a ‘Westminster system’ and it works effectively and some would say it works better than some of the republics we have around the world. We all have a right and opportunity to speak in the country and choose the kind of government we want. We respect that, paying due respect to the traditions that we have established and have worked well for us up to this point,” he said.


bogart 4 years, 11 months ago

To those who use the Wesrminisyer system to only conveniently suit demselves..... Bahamian saying, "fisherman never say hhe fish stink"


DDK 4 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps it's time to a shift to a greater separation of Church and State!


Alex_Charles 4 years, 11 months ago

Why are we even reporting on this. Who in the Tribune is putting these reporters up to the task of this foolishness?

Do I go to a stone mason and ask him to fix my teeth? Do you ask your cashier at a grocery store to change the oil in your car?

So why in the hell are we considering what a religious leaders stance is on fiscal matters? Ask a flipping economist or someone that specializes in tax policy. These old crusty BCC fellas' expertise is stopping women rights and homosexuality, stick to liking man and go in ya'll corner.

We need to grow the hell up as a country..


PastorTroy 4 years, 11 months ago

KUDOS to the Bishop, he is ABSOLUTELY right!!! This is what I expect from the church. K.P seem to be immune to the struggle of the average Bahamian citizen.


birdiestrachan 4 years, 11 months ago

Turnquest spoke about VAT at a graduation. I guess it was the right time and pkace. because Turnquest is King in waiting.

Turnquest God hears the cries of the poor.


jamani2 4 years, 11 months ago

While I do understand the sentiments expressed by the bishop, I would have to agree with the deputy prime minister. Don't use what should be a time of celebration and joy about how far we have come as a nation to bring up political and controversial issues. the bishop was ill advised to do so. The motive must be construed as an ulterior motive, especially if he knew, and had agreed to meet with the government to gain a better understanding of the how and why the position of the government on taxation was taken. I was just reading the excellent articles by Candia Dames reflecting on the history of our country. One of the things that really stood out to me was the importance, when it comes to matters of national importance, for all leaders, regardless of political stripes, to strive for better understanding, a sense of nationalism, and shared vision.

There is a time and a season for politics and political talk. The time is not during the independence day celebration. When I sit down to watch the Golden State warriors cap of what has been a successful season, the last thing I need to hear is my wife coming in the room filled with me and my buddies nagging about trash piling up in the kitchen and the sink full of dirty dishes. Come on, now.


ThisIsOurs 4 years, 11 months ago

Turnquest is out of touch. Nothing is premature, one day after the tax was introduced food prices rose by as much as 50%. There's no need to wait and see. Food is an input to everything. The eateries need it to create their product, business owners need to eat. Meanwhile the budget for MP gas and PR has been increased by millions.


John 4 years, 11 months ago

When was the last time churches increased their tithes from 10%? Ok then!


sheeprunner12 4 years, 11 months ago

The 4,000 church buildings can ALL take advantage of customs tax exemptions ......... Many clerics live a far better lifestyle than most of their parishioners ........... Most church financial and real estate assets are off-limits to Government agency intrusion ......................... Most church clerics openly support their political "favorites" .............. Where is the Christ-likeness in this???


concernedcitizen 4 years, 11 months ago

WTH don,t people understand ,btw corruption ,500 million walked out the front door of BOB, and employing one in four people on the public service we have been borrowing hundreds of millions a year for the last 30 years to keep this country afloat .Now unless you want ,hubby ,Sis ,son, daughter ,sent home from their government job its time to pay the piper .


DDK 4 years, 11 months ago

.........while at the same time this Government and many Church leaders continue to live lavishly and spend like there is no tomorrow.


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