PLP leader Philip Davis speaks during the protest
Protesters in Rawson Square
An aerial view of the protest
HUNDREDS of protesters marched to Rawson Square this morning to protest the impending valued added tax increase and a new sliding tax on web shops.
Shortly after 10.30am, the protestors stormed the barricades erected in Rawson Square and rushed into Parliament Square, before being stopped by police who held the crowd at bay.
After 1pm, Bay Street was again blocked off, with some protestors sitting and standing in the road as vehicles tried to drive past. Police later cleared the area and Bay Street was reopened.
And while protestors greeted and cheered for some politicians like Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Davis, Englerston MP Gleyns Hanna Martin and Free National Movement Centreville MP Reece Chipman, it was reported that one demonstrator threw water on Minister of Transport Frankie Campbell. The crowd also booed Minister of National Security Marvin Dames as left the House of Assembly.
The group included angry Bahamians, PLP supporters and members, as well as web shop employees who are afraid the new tax scale will lead to job losses in their sector.
The protest was labeled “Keep Ya Corned Beef, We Marching.”
Protesters chanted and shouted over music from a mini brass band, and waved signs, which read, “When was the last time your water bill was less than $50?” “We thought it was the people’s time,” and “Planes & Washers Duty Free Really?”
One protestor, B “Wheels” Evans, said he was participating in the march to advocate for “rights and justice.”
He stated he has no faith in the current administration nor the opposition party because they have both proven to be dishonest and “disgraceful.”
“Bahamian people need somebody to look out for them. I don’t think either of these parties are interested in the Bahamian people, they’re just using them for when they want to get in (government),” he said.
Another protester, Ernest McKenzie, expressed concern on how the tax increase could negatively impact the tourism industry.
“It’s going to cost them more to buy a plane ticket to come here to enjoy the goodness of us, and if they do that and impose that on us, what’s going to happen to your children and your grandchildren… to the young black entrepreneurs, to the small businessman?”
Protester Charles Higgs agreed that the proposed 12 percent VAT rate is “too much and too tough” for Bahamians, especially due to the large amount of single parent homes in the country.
“The government isn't even giving them quality food like fruits and stuff (that will be VAT exempt). They giving them this corned beef, and if you really did the history to know what corned beef is made up of, you wouldn't even want it exported in this country,” he said.
More on this story as it develops.
Photos: Terrel W Carey/Tribune staff