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Friday, August 22, 2014
Serious concerns expressed over the “rushed” passing of Value Added Tax (VAT) legislation in the Bahamian Parliament
Fnm Angry Over 'Rushed' Passing Of Vat
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
Nassau, The Bahamas
FNM Shadow Minister for Finance, expressed concern yesterday over the
“rushed” passing of Value Added Tax legislation in Parliament on
Turnquest said the government may have tried to distract Bahamians from
VAT by sandwiching debate on the Bill between debates on the
constitutional referendum and the revised Gaming Bill, which is expected
to be tabled after debate on the referendum Bills have been completed.
was passed in the House on Wednesday night after two days of debate.
But Mr Turnquest said parliamentarians should have been given more than
30 minutes to make their contributions on the Bill.
are still in the middle of finishing the debate on the constitutional
amendment Bills, a significant moment in our democracy and right in the
middle you inject something as significant as tax reform?” Mr Turnquest
told the House during the debate. “You’re bringing in this new way of
taxing people despite the fact that it has not been properly explained
in terms of the technical nature of how it will be applied and
requirements of it as well as explaining how it will affect the
day-to-day lives of people and the safeguards put in to ensure this new
tax does not push people down to the poverty line?
don’t think they’ve done sufficient work to bring this tax in and I
think they rushed this debate. They have heard from the business
community, but I don’t believe those consultations have reached the
point that we could say with all honesty and transparency that this is
the best we have to offer.”
Turnquest said Bahamians have not been properly consulted on VAT,
adding that a referendum/opinion poll should have taken place before the
government decided to implement the tax.
recommended that just like the gaming referendum, they ought to have
done the same thing because this is a significant change,” he said. “I
believe Bahamians ought to have a voice to decide whether this is
something we want or want another alternative. I believe this process
was significantly rushed.”
far as debating important bills in a short period of time, Mr Turnquest
said debate on VAT should have been given priority over debate on the
put constitutional Bills ahead of VAT could have been a distraction
against VAT,” he said. “Even the Gaming Bill that will come up, this is
all significant legislation and they’re not giving us proper time to air
all our concerns. They wanted people to be confused and to take their
eye off the ball and they have unfortunately been successful to some
Turnquest said in order to fully flesh out their views on fiscal
reform, parliamentarians should have been given an hour to make their
contributions as they are during the annual budget debate.