Minnis says opposition awaiting reduction on VAT
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday he was not impressed with the Davis administration’s plans for government, insisting that the ideas put forth in the Speech from The Throne are rehashed Free National Movement initiatives.
Speaking to reporters following the first sitting of Parliament and Senate at Baha Mar, Minnis said he felt the “blueprint” seemed like a copy of our proposals that we were presenting throughout this entire electoral process.”
He noted that the Free National Movement’s initiatives which focused on housing, education, fiscal responsibility, and empowering small businesses, were things that were “already done” or were implemented and being expanded on, as he pointed to the similarities of the initiatives being advanced in the Speech from The Throne.
The former prime minister insisted however that he is particularly interested in the Davis-led administration’s promise to reduce value-added tax (VAT) to 10 percent across the board.
“They continue to talk about reducing VAT. You would remember that when we spoke about removing VAT off breadbasket items they thought it was impossible and we did it,” Minnis said.
“I’m looking forward to them reducing VAT to 10 percent. The Bahamian people are looking forward to that and as opposition, we will continue to hammer that point.”
Under the leadership of Minnis, VAT was increased from 7.5 percent to 12 percent, a move that was widely criticized and rejected by Bahamians.
Minnis also noted that he was also disappointed in the government not prioritizing other important issues, such as the universal lunch and afterschool program and preschooling on the Family Islands.
Governor-General Sir Cornelius A Smith presented the government’s “Blue Print for Change” as he read the Speech from The Throne marking the opening of a new session of Parliament.
Sir Cornelius revealed planned policies and initiatives aimed at bolstering capacity across health, economic, investment, social, cultural, and environmental sectors, adding it was clear from the results of the election that Bahamians demand transformational change.
Key policy initiatives outlined initiatives in health, economy, sports and culture, agriculture, investment, social assistance, national security, anti-corruption, foreign policy, labor, the environment, education, and local government.
He said the government is committed to executing good governance, established on the principles of transparency, integrity, and accountability.
Earlier in the day, Minnis accused the incoming Davis administration of conducting an “unconstitutional excursion” to Baha Mar for the Opening of Parliament and Speech from The Throne proceedings.
In a statement dated October 6, Minnis noted that Article 65(1) or the Constitution provides for “Each Session of Parliament shall be held at such place and commence at such time as the Governor-General may by Proclamation appoint”.
He furthered that when the House of Assembly was dissolved on August 19, 2021, a Second Proclamation was read whereby the Governor-General summoned the new Parliament and proclaimed “that the next session of Parliament shall be held in the City of Nassau”.
However, Bahamas Information Services later released a photo of a new proclamation signed by the governor-general effectively allowing for the next session of Parliament to be held on Baha Mar premises.
Minnis also called into question the price tag the proceedings to be held at the multi-billion dollar resort.
“This government has said they will be very transparent and I’m sure they will release the figures that they spent to the Bahamian populace,” he said.
Baha Mar Senior Executive Vice President Robert Sandy Sands told members of the media yesterday that while he cannot disclose the contractual arrangement between the government and Baha Mar for the resort to acting as the premises for Parliament, the arrangement was not a profit-making endeavor for the company.
Clint Watson, press secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, indicated that information on costing would be made available at a later date.