Senator Fred Mitchell on Monday implored the Minnis Administration to be “fair” to gaming operators, rather than tax them highly because they “don’t like them”.
During his contribution to the 2018-2019 Budget debate in the Senate yesterday, Mitchell said the government’s proposed tax increases for web shops is not “evidence-based” and seems to be irrational.
“I don’t gamble Madam president, but I would venture to say it is not immoral to gamble and even if it is that’s not really my business,” Mitchell stated.
“You know we need to get into a neutral zone on this and act on a fair and a rational matter …. we think that the taxes now being imposed are not evidence-based and therefore irrational.
“It’s like someone woke up in the morning and said look like they’re making too much money lets go after them.”
Mitchell also questioned why the government is not taxing other “big businesses” in the country.
“One wonders if the fellas who got the port at Arawak Cay, that got nobody else can come within 40 miles and if someone woke up in the morning (and said) ‘hmm they’re making too much money so let’s tax them’, but of course not though they are in a different category and of course the same thing goes for that company which owns 75 per cent of the market where you have to wash your clothes. They washes them, presses them and so forth … that is a protected business too,” he opined.
His comments came days after Finance Minister Peter Turnquest insisted that gaming operators are using governments new scaled tax regime as an excuse to terminate employees.
“These businesses always intended on downsizing their operations due to the fact that an increasing number of gamers have turned to online gambling,” Turnquest claimed, as he fielded questions from reporters on the sidelines of the 2018 Caribbean Conference of Accountants.
“Some of these operations have been struggling in the past, without any changes in the environment, so you see that business decisions are being made irrespective of tax.
“You also see the consolidation of the industry and a move to more transactions being done online.”
Turnquest said the sudden proposition of mass layoffs is only a game of smoke and mirrors, considering the fact that government has yet to introduce the new tax hike.
A Sure Win announced earlier this week that it would close 11 stores ahead of the tax hike, affecting some 50 employees.
Island Luck also informed its employees that 350 of them will be let go in the next 30 days.
Letters to employees at both companies were followed by a third one on Friday from management at Paradise Games, which made staff aware of company restructuring and encouraged employees to exercise caution in their spending and saving habits, ahead of possible layoffs.