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70 Percent Against Tax Rise In Survey

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

MOST Bahamians oppose the Minnis administration’s “People’s Budget”, with more than 70 percent against the impending value added tax increase, a new scientific poll from marketing and research firm Public Domain reveals.

Seventy-six percent of Bahamians oppose the budget, with such large opposition consistent across demographic groups, regardless of age or income.

M’wale Rahming, president of Public Domain, said the results are the latest indication the Minnis administration is heading toward the “point of no return,” that moment when Bahamians’ disapproval of an administration may not be capable of reversal.

“What happens,” he said yesterday, “is people start to point back to other missteps that you’ve made so new mistakes are no longer in a void. So, it’s ‘look how they did this and they ain’ talk to us’ and ‘they did that last thing and they ain’ talk to us,’ so people are no longer hearing what the government is saying, they’re now referring to your past missteps and I think the danger is it’s difficult to govern when you don’t have buy-in from the general public and I think we saw that in the last administration and the one before that. At the end of those terms, the general public (was) no longer tuned into those administrations.”

Mr Rahming said the administration is reaching the danger zone quicker than he expected “and the pace is gaining.”

“They started out with a high favourability that was mid-70s and then that sort of dropped to the mid-60s and now you see it’s going down and down and I think once you get into that mid-30s, it’s hard to pull out of that,” he said.

The latest poll does not ask people if they generally approve of the administration, but a poll in April by Public Domain showed fewer than 50 percent of Bahamians were generally satisfied with its performance at the time.

According to the latest poll, 62 percent of Bahamians believe the budget “is designed to benefit special interests within the FNM”; 16 percent believe the budget is just “like any other budget”; seven percent believe it is “the people’s budget” and 15 percent said they don’t know.

The poll results also show 73 percent of people generally oppose the VAT increase to 12 percent from 7.5 percent, 22 percent generally support it and five percent said they don’t know.

“We’re not saying the Bahamian people have studied this budget and have grasped complex relationships between deficits and the like,” Mr Rahming said. “This is public opinion about the arguments being made about this budget, that’s it.”

Mr Rahming said communication remains a problem for the government, pointing to the poll’s data showing 86 percent of Bahamians believe the government should have engaged in public consultation before unveiling its plan for the new fiscal year.

“I’m going to be repeating something I’ve been saying for months and months and people are going to say I have an agenda,” Mr Rahming said, “but the issue is communication. I don’t think the communication on this was handled very well therefore the arguments that are made on the back-end gets disbelieved because government did not communicate properly what they were trying to do. One thing governments and corporations need to understand is communication isn’t just what you say but also what you don’t say. They need to show people that they are having consultations and that they want to become partners with the public as opposed to just leaders.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has defended the lack of consultation surrounding VAT’s increase, saying governments keep revenue measures close to the chest to discourage consumer behaviour that could upend government revenue projections.

The scientific poll, which was conducted between June 2 and June 6, has a margin of error of 3.46 percent. Eight hundred respondents were selected by “random” telephone selection.

Most Bahamians, according to the poll, believe it is unfair for the government to tax gaming houses much more than other industries. However, Mr Rahming was careful to note the question respondents were asked on this matter likely influenced their response.

Respondents were asked: “Do you think it’s fair or unfair that locally owned Bahamian businesses, like gaming houses, under the new budget, will be taxed at upwards of 50 percent while banks and other industries are taxed less than 10 percent?”

Seventy-four percent of people said this is unfair in response to the question.

Mr Rahming said: “I can’t say we got a nuanced interpretation of what people think (on this issue). When we say you’re taxing anything more than you’re taxing something else, people are going to say it’s unfair. I don’t think it’s specific to the gaming industry or reveals a lot. “We went back over this internally for about an hour because we were worried but we came back to the fact we’re not trying to understand a nuanced feeling to a complex issue like the budget; we’re really measuring people’s reaction to the different arguments that are being made to the budget and the word fair was being used by people on one side and the word unfair was being used on the other side.”

Mr Rahming said after Public Domain had begun polling Bahamians, a private client requested and paid for a private poll about the budget.

“All clients of mine are confidential,” he said when asked to reveal the client. The questions and answers polled for that client were not included in the report released to the press yesterday.

Comments

jackbnimble 1 week, 3 days ago

The Government is hell bent on taxing us into oblivion. Economcially, it’s the equivalent of sexual assault without protection - unless, of course, you own a wash house or an airline business.

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DonAnthony 1 week, 3 days ago

There would have been a much better acceptance by the public if there were meaningful reductions in government spending, particularly in the size of the civil service. Yes, our debt is high and revenue had to be increased but expenditures could have been reduced. It is ridiculous that the cost of the civil service increased 40% in 6 years. Yes it is very hard to reduce the public service but the cold reality is we have more government than we can afford. The government should have announced plans to sell some Loss making govt corporations if only to stop the drain on taxpayers in subsequent years, even if we had to give them away. Then the private sector could right size the number of employees and run these corporations efficiently as oonly the private sector can. These unions have a stranglehold on the government and basically hold the entire country hostage. So rather than make tough, needed cuts this FNM government took the easy, lazy way out and just increased taxes. Very disappointing and a betrayal of the voters who voted for real change.

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licks2 1 week, 3 days ago

This man is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. . .complicit it een funny!! Just look from where he springs. . .deep in the belly of the PLP. . .I will await responses from some of you around here. . .his clients are confidential. . .because his client will tell you what his agenda is!! I ask just one question. . .he polled 800 persons by phone. . .cell phones or land lands. This question may seem a non-started but when you thing how many and what class of Bahamians have land lines in their houses! Another question for the poller is that you mean that the same Bahamian people who did not want the games house in the first place. . .the ones who are now in the streets saying that the game house needed to get tax heavy. . .now pools 73% against in just a few days?

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ohdrap4 1 week, 3 days ago

I understand they only poll landlines or home cable phones so this is at not cost to the responder.

I wonder how random this is. They randomly select me every other week.

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licks2 1 week, 3 days ago

That's my point . . .I only know four persons who have land lines. . .one in fox hill, one in the grove, one in seabreeze and the other out west. . .one of them is my old mother. . .one old woman who don't believe in putting minutes on cell phones after someone Bluetooth all her minutes off her phone over ten years ago. . . and none of three of them were not called!!

I listened to Mr. Rahaming. . .I wondered "is this a pollster or a government critic". . .how can he be a balanced pollster with all that "anti FNM" feeling coming out of him!!

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 3 days ago

I guess now we know the overall percentage (76%) over the past few decades of persons who have graduated from our publlic schools with a D average. The very same ones voting no on this poll with the phone in one hand and a dirty diaper in the other hand.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 3 days ago

Repost: The current Minnis-led FNM government are just as spendthrift as the last corrupt Christie-led PLP government. This is evidenced by the simple fact that the proposed 2019/20 budget does set out any detailed plans for the implementation of desperately needed austerity measures to address the grossly over-bloated size of our public services sector. Turnquest and Minnis have elected to take what is for them the easy road of imposing new taxes, rather than take the hard and politically painful road of significantly reducing the size of our largely non-productive civil work force in the shortest time possible notwithstanding the resulting civil and political unrest that would surely (and must) follow. We would be crazy to feed the Minnis-led government additional tax dollars before they demonstrate to us a sustained meaningful effort on their part to reduce rather than grow the size of the public services sector. All of our 7.5% VAT dollars went towards bigger government in an effort to buy political support as opposed to reducing our annual deficits and national debt. And we are now at the end of the road and can ill-afford to make that same mistake again. Cabinet must start tightening the belt in a most serious way - there are no other sensible options, period!

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K4C 1 week, 3 days ago

very interesting comments, many Bahamians live in foreign countries pay this taxes and in some case more but when at home they won't admit to understanding governments must tax it's residence to pay for services, the days of borrowing to do just that are over and it must collect from ALL

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tetelestai 1 week, 3 days ago

No one is arguing that government should tax, K4C. You are being disingenuous. The question(s) is whether this (VAT) is the most equitable and/or efficient tax for The Bahamas and/or, whether the increate in VAT to 12% accomplishes that which the present government wants it to accomplish. By the way, the answers to the questions are no and no.

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K4C 1 week, 3 days ago

I live in Canada I pay income tax a health tax and VAT on everything I consume

the VAT is a consumption tax used all over in the UK it is 20% Ontario Canada 13%

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 2 days ago

Both Canada and the UK have their own very serious financial problems and are shining examples of over taxation to compensate for massive amounts of fraud, waste and corruption in their respective bloated public service sectors, especially as regards their social welfare schemes.

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K4C 1 week, 2 days ago

WOW

But that's typical for a Bahamian response

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 2 days ago

Your apparent prejudice against Bahamians is duly noted.

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birdiestrachan 1 week, 3 days ago

The FNM Government lied to the its the people's voters. They are not listening to the cries of the poor they are listening to new car dealers and aviation lawyers and those who told them to increase taxes on web shops. After all it is those people who pay for the red shirts. hats and pompons.

One thing for sure no one can believe anything that come out of the doc , Turnquest, or Johnson mouth every time they open their mouth they lie. then they say they changed their minds like their neck times. The judge says they are eating their words. to be honest they are telling lies. But she was on the big lie We March with them all.

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DDK 1 week, 2 days ago

Sadly, Birdie may just be getting close to the truth............

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 3 days ago

Okay .......... now do another survey ........ Can you survive without a government service or contract??????? .............. I trust that the YES will be over 70% as well.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 3 days ago

One thing is for sure, we, as a people and a country, will not survive with more taxation as well as the current civil service payroll and service contract costs. So what's your point?

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 3 days ago

I can give them a few suggestions free-of-charge:

Make a ceiling on civil service terms at 30 years ........ over that there MUST be a Cabinet decision to keep them on.

Make voluntary contributory pensions MANDATORY for all civil servants with less than 10 years experience.

Make ALL ancillary services like janitorial, messengers, etc. privatised or redundant.

Computerize all filing clerk jobs.

Simplify job descriptions and consolidate all middle/senior management.

Establish ONE central government services centre on every Family Island.

Stop paying exorbitant rents on these Government offices.

This can cut the civil service bill by at least 50%

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DDK 1 week, 2 days ago

All pensions should be contributory from this point forward. This is no time for continued giveaways.

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DaGoobs 1 week, 2 days ago

The pollsters called me on my home phone. From the slant of the questions I am convinced that their client was the webshops because that was the main focus of the questions. The other stuff about 12% VAT seemed to be a throw-in just to give it an air of legitimacy. Also the limited choice of answers to many of the questions affected how the results would turn out and in some cases would get a response that the pollster wanted. In any event, if you ask 800 or 8000 people "Do you support a tax increase?" what answer do you expect to get? Of course the overwhelming majority will say "No". Ask the same people if they support no taxes and they are mostly going to say "Yes. You get the answer you want based on how and what questions you ask. My college professors called it the use and abuse of statistics.

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DaGoobs 1 week, 2 days ago

All of a sudden Bahamians find out about the words "public consultation" and believe that there should be public consultation on everything before the government takes action on anything but their memories are short on this subject. Pindling didn't believe in public consultation and the closest he came was his white and green papers on independence. Ingraham tried public consultation with his constitutional referendum, get busted over the head and never went near it again. Christie tried public consultation twice, get busted over his head twice and never went near it again. Given his predecessors track record, you think Minnis wants to try his luck on the public consultation wheel of fortune?

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 2 days ago

How many parents consult with their children about what will be for dinner??

We elect Government to LEAD and make WISE decisions ...... not WHINE.

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