Seventy-six per cent of Bahamians are opposed to the Minnis administration’s 2018/2019 budget, according to a new poll from marketing and research firm Public Domain.
The poll, which was conducted by telephone between June 2 and June 6, also showed that 66 per cent of the public “very much” oppose government’s proposed value-added tax (VAT) increase from 7.5 per cent to 12 per cent. Thirteen per cent of persons support the increase, nine per cent somewhat support and 5 per cent are unsure.
While the budget has been dubbed “The People’s Budget”, 62 per of persons believe the budget is designed to benefit special interests within the Free National Movement (FNM) and only seven per cent believe “the budget is the people’s budget”.
Respondents were also asked, “Do you think it’s fair or unfair that locally owned Bahamian business, like gaming houses, will be taxed at upwards of 50 per cent, while banks and other industries are taxed less than 10 per cent?”
To this question, 64 per cent of persons said it is “very unfair”, 15 per cent said very fair, six per cent said somewhat unfair, nine per cent said unfair and six per cent were not sure. Eighty-nine per cent of respondents said the government should consider job losses when approving new taxes for web shops.
Gaming operators have warned that there will be job losses of and store closures of up to 192 venues, if the government moves forward with its new taxation scales. The new budget proposes gaming operators pay a minimum of 20 per cent to a maximum of 50 per cent, based on their earnings.
The tax structure also includes a new five per cent stamp tax on deposits made to gaming houses by customers.
Thirty-six per cent of those surveyed strongly believe that the tax hike on the gaming industry is “economic racism”, while 15 per cent somewhat agree, 13 per cent are unsure, 13 per cent somewhat disagree and 23 per cent strongly agree.
When asked “Do you believe the budget is more likely to help the average Bahamian or the wealthy”, 68 per cent said “somewhat wealthy”, 12 per cent said “very much wealthy”, eight per cent said “somewhat average”, six per cent said “very much average”.