Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis broke his silence on the 67 per cent increase in value-added tax this week, and told Eyewitness News exclusively how his government arrived at the new tax regime.
The prime minister made it clear that he sympathizes with Bahamians as they grapple with the fact that they have less than one month before the new tax increase is rolled out on July 1.
“Nobody likes increased taxes,” Dr. Minnis said.
“I myself, I have gone on record to say that I do not agree with taxes. But, sometimes one has to make a decision whether you adhere to your beliefs, that you do not believe in taxation, and subsequently allow a country to be destroyed?
“One has to think of the future, or whether one wants to stick to his own views and remain dogmatic and fixated in your own beliefs.”
Before taking office, Dr. Minnis went on record to lambaste the previous Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration for introducing VAT.
Dr. Minnis, while in opposition, asserted that ‘lazy and irresponsible,’ governments levy taxes on its citizens.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the prime minister has increased vat by five decimal points from 7.5 per cent to 12 per cent.
But he doesn’t call it backpedaling, but instead, has labelled it decisive leadership.
“One has to make the decision whether you want to protect the country, or whether you want to protect yourself (your personal views), and protecting the country should always come before protecting one’s self,” Dr. Minnis said.
He defended the tax saying the hike is in an effort to protect the future economic stability of The Bahamas.
“We cannot only think of the present, we must also think of the future,” he said.
“Sixty per cent of Bahamians are under the age of 35. It’s that 60 per cent that we must protect and it’s the future that we must protect.
“We must build a better future.”