Prime Minister Philip 'Brave' Davis.
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis says his government does not want to put any further tax burdens on the Bahamian people to achieve its fiscal projections.
While in Grand Bahama on Monday, Mr Davis indicated he is optimistic about his administration’s fiscal plans and said any new taxes would be a “last resort” for his administration.
“As I would have said to agencies some time ago, my first job would be to see how we grow the economy; any new taxes are a last resort in our agenda,” he said, during a press briefing with reporters at the Office of the Prime Minister in Freeport.
“We are not seeking to put any further burden on our Bahamian people.”
“ We think that our tax, that where we are now with collections and enforcements, we ought to be able to take care of the services that we need to deliver and promises we made to see them fulfilled.”
This comes after Tribune Business reported on Monday the government planned to bridge the “gap” to its $1.3bn revenue increase with “additional measures” in the upcoming mid-year budget.
Simon Wilson, the Ministry of Finance’s financial secretary, recently told Tribune Business that some “new tax measures” will be required to achieve the projected 55.7 percent increase in government revenues over the next four years - an objective critical to achieving a forecast $71.9m budget surplus by the 2024-2025 fiscal year.
Tribune Business reported that while Mr Wilson did not provide any details on the new and/or increased taxes under consideration, he said the government’s senior tax officials were also confident “a significant” sum remains uncollected annually across real property taxes, VAT, customs duties and excise tax.
In terms of hurricane restoration, Mr Davis has expressed his disappointment with the pace of restoration work on Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Asked why he felt this way, the Prime Minister said: “I think it is personnel we asked to get things done not moving enough, and so we just have to crack the whip, and that is what we intend to do.”
In the meantime, the Prime Minister also confirmed the government has engaged an international law firm to help access funding for restoration efforts.
Mr Davis was asked about a tweet on his Twitter page indicating that a letter of engagement was signed between the government and the law firm of Holland and Knight to access funding to assist with post-Hurricane Dorian restoration.
The reporter asked about the details and what it means for Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Mr Davis explained the country needs assistance and there are lots of grants out there that could help The Bahamas.
“I want to say in keeping with our stress to the corporate citizens of the country, we need assistance, and we need to do this together,” he said. “We were able to have assistance of a corporate citizen to help us engage Holland and Knight to go out and seek grant funding for us. That is one of the… I did not want to disclose everything we are doing, but that the law firm would be lobbying for us.
“There is lots of funding out in the world particularly for climate change, and medical matters, and particularly after COVID, there’s been quite an appetite to assist jurisdictions such as our small island developing state.
“And to navigate through the maze to get to it, we need some assistance, and so Holland and Knight was identified as someone that could do it,” he stated.
Prime Minister Davis said that it is being done by a corporate citizen who will pay for it.
“I want to thank them publicly, but they want to remain anonymous for the time being. And we expect to see results from that. That is why I am confident that we would be able to deliver in short order our promises,” he stated.