Friday, June 8, 2018

242newsbahamas: A Budget For The People? (Weekly Highlights)

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A budget for the people?


Dear Readers,

Last week, the Minister of Finance unveiled the government's plans for the 2018/2019 fiscal year. Dubbed the "People's Budget", this would be the Minnis administration's first REAL crack at managing the country's finances, because as the new Deputy Prime Minister explained their first budget was based on meeting fiscal obligations left behind by the last administration. So, this budget planned and plotted out after a year of governance was highly anticipated.


The Budget debate kicked off in parliament this week and like all of you, our readers, we here at 242 news have a lot of opinions! And we're not all in agreement. So this week, we wanted to give you two differing perspective, the for...and the against.

The Argument Against:

This budget was a total slap in the face served up with a side of politricking and a heaping helping of hypocrisy. I listened quite intently as the DPM, who was adamantly against the introduction of VAT in the first place, attempted to tell an already struggling populace that not only would VAT remain, but the rate of VAT would go up. Not to 8% not to 10% but to a whopping 12%.


Now the funny thing for me is, I'm not opposed to paying any taxes...that is as long as I can see that my tax dollars are being effectively managed and that the country is better for my contributions to the public purse. Have you seen your money at work for you? Because I haven't. In fact, for 4 years, we heard the FNM in opposition demand an accounting for how VAT money was being spent - an explanation which the then PLP administration did not adequately answer. Since taking office, however, this government has offered no explanation for that either. We as a country still have no idea WHERE DA VAT MONEY GONE!! And now without providing that very important information, the government wants to collect EVEN MORE VAT MONEY! That does not sit well with me. 


But the increase in VAT isn't just a transparency/credibility issue for the government (even though that is a big deal); it is really about how the least among us will suffer. For those of us who are considered middle-class or upper-middle-class families just think about all the sacrifices that you and your household already make just to keep the lights on (literally and figuratively speaking). Think about the things you already go without so that you can care for your children, pay school fees, and just LIVE. Now think about those persons who are less well off than you, persons who have to meet all the obligations that you do; but on a minimum wage salary. Single mothers, pensioners, HOW are they going to survive when the cost of living INCREASES again? 


But you may be asking: Did you not see they removed VAT from bread basket items? They also increased travel exemptions and reduced the duty rates on a number of items. And exemptions on electricity bills up to 200 dollars!  Did you miss that part? The answer to that is NO! I'm simply not impressed by these minuscule changes. They seem very much like cheap distractions.


Again I'm not so naive as to believe that some level of austerity isn't required. But I also firmly believe in governing with COMPASSION and this budget does not do that!

The Argument For: 


On first hearing the news that VAT would increase to 12% I was saddened, but as it had been clearly told to us in the former FNM administration in 2008-2012, it was originally going to start at 15%.  Not there yet - amen.


I was under the impression that in order to sign on to the WTO (World Trade Organisation) we would have to end our duty collections and switch to a VAT tax. (Of course, we also must have equal rights for women - a miracle if we ever get that.) So, the plan is duty will eventually go away and VAT will be our main revenue source, as we know the correct duties don't always get to the treasury.


Please do not think I want to pay more taxes, no one in their right mind wants to do that. Unfortunately, ridiculous over spending and mismanagement of our finances by multiple governments has put us in a serious financial dilemma. And don't let the rhetoric that our dollar value will not change if we continue to borrow and not pay back our loans! Just ask Barbados.  More Christie government BS!


We are in debt, we are severely over-staffed in every government agency, we have paid ridiculous consulting fees to retired persons and friends for way to long, we've let buildings burn down and rebuilt them for millions as we had no insurance, and the list goes on and on and on and on....  - NOW, you and me and the rest of the country have to bear the brunt and pay off this debt.


For the first time in our country's existence our Minister of Finance is an Accountant and not a lawyer!  Someone who knows how to balance a budget and understands that you can't spend what you don't have. Ending the belief you can just CREATE funds, and spend it on high-end travel, throw huge street parties, and live large  - as you see fit!


Though we are not of one accord on the budget, we all know that unchecked spending has got us here.  We welcome you to weigh in.

#242Editor
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Click Below for this week's weather in The Bahamas:
Upcoming Calendar
New Providence
  • June 9th, 2018 
    • U23 Rugby: Bahamas U23 v LSC Rattlesnakes 3:00pm at Winton Rugby Centre
  • June 16th, 2018 
    • Men's Rugby:  Nassau Renegades v LSC Rattlesnakes 3:00pm at Winton Rugby Centre
  • June 30th, 2018 
    • Furniture Plus Art Competition: "Art from the Heart" 6:00pm 
  • June 25th - July 13th, 2018 
    • The NAGB Mixed Media Art Summer Camp 
  • July 16th - August 3rd, 2018 
    • The NAGB Mixed Media Art Summer Camp 
Grand Bahama
  • June 7th, 2018

    • 7th June to 19th August 2018: DENALIS RIGBY's Tennis Camp 8:00am - 1:00pm
  • June 23rd - 24th , 2018

    • Bahamas Dance Theatre 22nd Annual Dance Performance 7:00pm 
  • June 27th , 2018


    • Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce Monthly Business Meeting 12:30pm at Delphine Room,Pelican Bay Hotel
  • June 30th , 2018


    • Bahamian Farmers and Crafts Market at The Rand Nature Centre
Family Islands
  • June 8th, 2018

    • Abaco Beach Blue Marlin Invitational at Marsh Harbour 
  • June 15th, 2018

    • All Andros Crab Fest at Queen's Park, Fresh Creek
  • June 22nd, 2018

    • 42nd Annual Five Towns Regatta Time in Abaco at Green Turtle Cay
  • June 22nd, 2018

    • "Bimini Regatta Bimini C Class Regatta" in Alice Town
  • June 28th, 2018

    • All Eleuthera Regatta at Governor's Harbour, Central Eleuthera
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