NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas needs a green paper on fiscal reform, not just corporate income tax, according to Opposition leader Michael Pintard, who slammed the government’s Corporate Income Tax Green Paper as an “ill-considered half-step exercise.”
In a statement yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister pushed back against Mr Pintard’s criticisms as “shocking and deeply disingenuous” as it defended the government’s approach.
Pintard accused the Davis administration of not following the Parliamentary convention on a matter of such policy importance, where a ministerial communication from the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance would be expected in addition to the Green Paper being laid in the House of Assembly.
“The FNM flatly rejects any proposal for any new or increased tax measure that does not also come with a plan to reduce or contain unnecessary public sector expenditure. Before agreeing to provide this reckless and extravagant PLP with a penny more of Bahamian taxpayer money, the PLP must document its concrete plans for spending cuts and spending restraints to rein in their wasteful undertakings. And what is worse is that this Davis Administration continues to gleefully ignore the law and refuses to publish the details of the contracts they award. They do not even want to tell the public sometimes the value of contracts. We see contract amounts doubling, and we know that they continue to issue any number of no-bid contracts in violation of the law,” Pintard asserted.
Pintard also argued that the Green Paper puts forward four proposals, all of which, according to the paper, will have a negative effect on economic growth, foreign and domestic investment, and unemployment. “The Opposition cannot fathom how the government would find it appropriate to enter into any set of tax reform measures that will have a negative effect on every single key metric related to economic performance. The Bahamian people cannot accept a proposal that does not support sustained economic growth and better employment opportunities,” he noted.
Pintard further argued that the government ought to consider a fuller fiscal reform plan that looks broadly at this nation’s tax system, public sector expenditure, and addresses the bureaucracy and red tape that often stifles entrepreneurship and business opportunity.
“The country needs a green paper on fiscal reform, not just corporate income tax. How is the government going to adjust the tax system to reduce the burden on Bahamian working-class families and add more equity in the system?” Pintard queried.
In response, the Office of the Prime Minister, in a statement, characterized Pintard’s statements as “shocking and deeply disingenuous,” pointing to the FNM administration’s commitment to the International Taxation Reform of the G20/OECD.
“His recent statements show a concerning disconnect between his current position and the actions taken during his time in government,” the OPM statement noted. It continued, “The consultation process being carried out by the Ministry of Finance is a standard and inclusive approach to policy-making. All voices must be heard in a matter of such national importance. We are disappointed that the Leader of the Opposition failed to comprehend the purpose of a consultation process. Instead of rushing decisions as past governments may have, this administration ensures that all relevant stakeholders can express their views before finalizing policy decisions.”
Pintard’s accusation that the Davis administration was circumventing parliamentary procedure was also labeled as “unfounded.”
“There has been no breach of any rule. The government operates with transparency and under all parliamentary conventions and rules. This administration remains committed to informing the public on important policy decisions while engaging in a thorough and effective consultation process.”
The statement continued, “The Leader of the Opposition seems intent on becoming a professional critic, frequently opposing proposals without presenting alternative solutions. This administration encourages a constructive dialogue where criticism is paired with new ideas. This, unfortunately, appears to be a foreign concept for the Opposition Leader. It’s rather confusing that the Leader of the Opposition would critique our administration’s approach to reviewing tax reform when his Shadow Minister of Finance, Kwasi Thompson, has urged our government to take a comprehensive look at corporate tax.”
They must totally eliminate customs duties if this is to be the case. Otherwise, more businesses will close.
A great place to start with the spending cut is to eliminate half of the civil service workers. That’s the amount of them that just sit on their a$$ and just collect a paycheck.