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‘Tax Issues All Stem From Plp Blunders’

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

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

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

DAYS after the Minnis administration agreed to halt new web shop taxes after gaming house operators sued the government, Finance Minister Peter Turnquest blamed the former Christie administration for issues the government now faces with the industry and their increased taxes.

Mr Turnquest insisted it was the Christie administration that spent recklessly and went against the overwhelming rejection from Bahamians to the legalisation of web shops.

This decision, he said yesterday, resulted in a handful of “handpicked favoured operators” to be granted licences without considering what that would mean for the industry and the country.

Bahamians voted against legalising numbers houses and creating a national lottery in 2013, but the following year the majority of Members of Parliament voted in favour of the Gaming Act, thus regulating web shops.

On Friday, the government agreed to halt a new sliding tax and the five percent stamp tax on web shop patrons. It came after gaming operators filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking judicial review of the taxes. Both are pending a court hearing on October 5. It is unclear how this development will affect government revenue projections.

“It was his administration’s reckless spending that put the country in the position where value added tax and other tax increases are necessary to begin correcting many of the disastrous programmes and policies that got us here and continues to pose risk to fiscal consolidation and stability of the public finances,” Mr Turnquest told The Tribune yesterday.

“It was his administration that went against the overwhelming wishes of and disrespected the vote of the Bahamian people with respect to gaming, and doubled down on that disrespect by choosing a handful of handpicked, favoured operators to be granted licences without considering what that would mean for the industry and the country.

“It was his administration that failed to put in place the safeguards and monitoring programmes to protect gamers as well as communities from the negative effects of the activity and it was his administration that failed to budget adequate financial resources to fill the gap in Family Island communities when these operators repatriate their profits to Nassau or elsewhere.”

Yesterday, Mr Davis blamed the government for not listening to the concerns of numbers bosses. He said the same could not be said for the treatment of Lyford Cay residents as the government agreed not to increase taxes for them, referring to a property tax issue.

In response the deputy prime minister said: “The government did not respond to Lyford Cay exclusively. As I have said over and repeatedly, this issue was first brought to my attention by a real estate agent in Abaco, where second home ownership is a significant part of the economy. Once it was raised, we quickly realised we had not contemplated that the residences that did not meet the six month requirement as per the amendment would automatically be considered commercial and thus not eligible for the real property tax cap which was not intended to be changed. You might recall that it was the previous administration that instituted this cap and thus their criticism rings hollow.”

On Friday morning, attorneys Wayne Munroe and Alfred Sears, representing several web shops, appeared before Supreme Court Justice Indra Charles where they sought an injunction to block the patron tax, which was to come into effect on Saturday. One of the applications also extended to the sliding scale, which came into force on July 1.

Speaking following the court appearance, Attorney General Carl Bethel said this issue had more to do with the process by which the tax is implemented.

“The court itself was unable to proceed with a full hearing and we (the Attorney General’s Office) were certainly not in a position having only been served late yesterday (Thursday) evening to intelligently oppose the application for leave to bring judicial review proceedings,” Mr Bethel told reporters. “We intend to oppose the application should it come to that.

“And so the court has set the fifth of October as the date for that hearing. In the meanwhile we have been urged to have further discussions with the applicants to see if we can narrow any areas of dispute and we’ll do so.

“No injunction has been issued, but out of respect for the court and the difficulty the court was in, that the court could not intelligently and in a fair judicious way have dealt with a matter on the basis of such urgency, we have agreed that there would be an undertaking that the tax wouldn’t be imposed pending the hearing on the fifth of October. That is a courtesy that we extended to colleagues opposite also to the courts so that the court is able to effectively perform its function, bearing in mind that it would be unwise to defend your right of way at your peril when the court is not comfortable and then the court will make a ruling that you may not be comfortable with rather than to have a ruling and rather than to have any injunction, we deemed it to be in the highest standards of judicial conduct and the conduct of council to grant an accommodation to allow the court to have the comfort of fully considering all of our arguments. So the court is able to make the best decision for the Bahamian people in these circumstance.”

He continued: “So we have agreed on a date to come back, pending that date, we’ve agreed that the tax would not be imposed so that the court would not feel any pressure in terms of reaching a fair verdict on these issues. The important issues are the policy and they ought to be properly ventilated.”

In the meantime, all parties have been urged to have further discussions to see if any of the disputes can be narrowed, Mr Bethel said.

“If we do not have an agreement that brings an end to the litigation then we will fight the litigation on its merits and seek to prevent the judicial review from being commenced by court order. If that should fail then the 23-26 (of October) are the dates adjourned for the fighting of the full judicial review application.”

Meanwhile, Mr Munroe has said because his clients are questioning the taxes, it is the right thing to have them set down.

He said: “To be clear the position of the Attorney Ggeneral is that we are wrong but a court would have to say whether he is right or we are right, but in the meantime it would not be fair to move on with things. The example is if you are supposed to hang and I say you shouldn’t hang but while you work you can’t go ahead and execute the person.”

Comments

Damifiknow 2 weeks, 5 days ago

So go by a dilapidated hotel then.

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BahamasForBahamians 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Lol you just can't make this shit up.. This guy has been the deputy prime minister for almost 2 years and still blaming the previous administration.

IF THERE ARE STILL ISSUES LEFT IN PLACE BY THE PLP AND AFTER ALMOST 2 YEARS ... AND YOUR CREW HAS FAILED TO CORRECT THEM... THEN THAT IS IN AN INDICTMENT ON YOU!!

THE ONES WHO GOT ELECTED WITH A CLAIM TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS!

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sealice 2 weeks, 4 days ago

or that our country is so screwed up there's no one capable of fixing 45 years of flukups....lets hire some foreigners....

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BahamasForBahamians 2 weeks, 4 days ago

then why did this gang campaign on having the solution to the problems facing the country ?

crime, economy, corruption, etc... they're all complicit in the same thing and have only pointed fingers since coming to office.

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hrysippus 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Hey BsnanasForBahamians, how much to you get paid to write these plp apologist posts? Can I get A job doing it as well? Who should I contact, and is payment in cash or by check?

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BahamasForBahamians 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Has the FNM pulled the plug on the garbage you were spewing? You should go to the labor board if you're unemployed.. Or go to your MP. lol

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sealice 2 weeks, 4 days ago

crooks and their lawyers trying to keep their ill gotten money. And then these same crooks and lawyers figure they can just pay you for your vote and then we have policiticans crooks and lawyers..... our wonderful gubmint dem bahamas....

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OriginalBey 2 weeks, 4 days ago

I am not seeing the correlation between the two. Taxing the hell out of the gaming industry because the people voted against it? Is this an admission that it is the intent of the Minnis administration to drive them out of business? It would be nice to stay on topic and address the two issues separately so we can enjoy clarity. What failed programs did the PLP administration squander taxpayer funds on? In what amounts? Was there any ROI from said programs? How has this administration stopped the hemorrhaging since it assumed power? Details DPM. Details. The devil lies in the details. Ministers love to stand in the HOA and make outlandish claims without any substantiation. I am not suggesting that what he is declaring is a lie or even misleading. I would just like us all to be clear on the facts and with what was presented these statements are light on facts and clarity.

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DWW 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Why does every Bahamian miss the elephant? QUESTION: Why do I have to pay VAT on bread and health insurance but my neighbor doesn't pay VAT when buy one number? Answer me that riddle before pontificating on "IT WASN'T ME!"

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Comrade "Schwarzenegge" KP's catchphrase "I'll be back" in six months announce that the Imperial red shirts cabinet's decision pump $100 million from PeoplePublicPurse into Freeport's Lucayan Hotel Resort, has turned into overwhelming bad decision and your Imperial red government - IS prepared admit it can't make fuc#ing Lucayan Hotel Resort properties viable, and hopes someone else from foreigners private sector will step forward take off government''s hands $1 US or Bahamalander currency. { Shouldn't be in position make this up six months in advance - but I do, comfortably so }.

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mandela 2 weeks, 4 days ago

In 2022 will the governing party still be blaming their predecessors for the vows of the country? umm I wonder. Excuses, Excuses, Excuses.

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TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Government should threaten to return VAT back to breadbasket items since poor people have money to waste on numbers, and threaten to raise VAT to 13% - both moves to compensate for the lost number house tax revenue.

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DDK 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Not to worry, they will get The People one way or the other. They always have a plan! The plans are not usually good for The People, but do they really care? They never think things out, or is it just a pretence?

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Ma comrade friends, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
You MUST UNDERSTAND
None these recorded on movie tape
Damning falsehoods are made up

Imperial red shirts since 2017 Genera Election campaign
Have governed in ways
That is full abundance false pretenses

But more, much more than this
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
They still telling untruths PeoplePublic

  • Red Shirts Leader, Hon. Hubert calls for honesty and transparency -

........//////////https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Nh_8jijRgc

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birdiestrachan 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Turnquest being the masterful liar . knows that they can shut the web shops down. he should grow up, and stop casting blame. it will not work.

By the way what happened to OBAN that you insisted was so great a deal, even if sensible people were telling you , you were living in a fools paradise, you and doc of course.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 4 days ago

"response the deputy prime minister said: “The government did not respond to Lyford Cay exclusively. As I have said over and repeatedly, this issue was first brought to my attention by a real estate agent in Abaco, where second home ownership is a significant part of the economy. Once it was raised, we quickly realised we had not contemplated that the residences that did not meet the six month requirement as per the amendment would automatically be considered commercial and thus not eligible for the real property tax cap which was not intended to be changed. You might recall that it was the previous administration that instituted this cap and thus their criticism rings hollow.”"

Lol. His counter to y'all only jump because lyfird cay called was, not true! we had already jumped because the wealthy expat community from Abaco called."....this man...what a mess we're in. And he so arrogant with it, so caught up in his self importance to ask real local economists for assistance. Between this and the fake tech hub where they doing everything to ensure Bahamians don't get no part of the pie, well except for the two or three on the committee that is. You already see the mindset at BPL

He is so out of his depth it's amazing. They want you to believe they spent months planning this budget running this model and that model, added in a requirement that you had to be living in the country for six months to get the 50k cap and didn't consider that second home owners would be affected. But that's exactly who the rule targets!!!!!!

They're running through legislation to say they did it with absolutely know clue of the law existing or new and its impact.

This really makes you question the legal people they have in the room. That CEB bill for example was a piece of legal crap. Like a university IT student wrote that for a class project they rushed one weekend to complete

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mandela 2 weeks, 3 days ago

The Minnis led party said in opposition they would sell Baha'mar hotel when they become the government. The Minnis party is now governing, did they sell the hotel? No, and not only did they not sell, they are now all up in the front row seat taking praises, and singing glory alleluia. Now they are exploiting VAT. and the gaming industry two things they said they would get rid off. They should be held in contempt of the Bahamian people. The Minnis led party looks lost, really lost, so far they also get a D. average. Dumb and Dangerous.

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bahamian242 2 weeks, 3 days ago

These same Web Shops are going to be the down fall of this Country no matter who's in Power! They should of never of been, but under Government Control!

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BONEFISH 2 weeks, 3 days ago

On the morning blend talk show on guardian radio on Thursday May 31st,2018,a tweet was read by the host. This was the day after the budget was first presented in parliament.The person said in the tweet, this is a budget prepared by someone who does not understand economics. the person will do what they do best,campaign.The person in that tweet seem to have a very intimate knowledge of persons involved in this budget preparation. I thought that was harsh, but today what was said has come true.

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