Opposition raises alarm over unpaid VAT refunds

Opposition raises alarm over unpaid VAT refunds
Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Davis yesterday accused the government of being delinquent on the payment of millions in VAT refunds.

“I should add that I will also bring to the attention of those who independently review the fiscal state of this country – including the IMF, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s – the magnitude and nature of these claims to ensure that the Government properly accounts for these claims in its fiscal accounts,” Davis said.

At a press conference yesterday, Davis said he was contacted by three people who had not been paid, adding the collective sum owed to them was around $7 million.

He underscored plans to compile a list of vendors owed Value-Added Tax (VAT) refunds by the government and are facing financial hardship as a result, citing his role as Opposition Leader and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

“I know it to be an issue because persons have called me and asked me to intervene on their behalf,” Davis said.

“I have had three at least call me and I am told there are many more. The three persons that contacted me I think are owed around $7 million in VAT refunds.”

Davis spoke at a press conference on the country’s fiscal situation at the PLP’s headquarters on Farrington Road yesterday.

He said the government is in a cash crunch and the Opposition is concerned about the non-payment of legitimate VAT refunds.

“This is now seriously undermining the compliance level of this tax and over stating its true performance level,” Davis said.

“If not addressed quickly, this may force businesses who paid the tax at the border and expecting timely refunds, to suffer greater hardship and close or lay-off staff because of decreased cash liquidity.”

He said: “If the Government is truly committed to transparency, they should publish the level of VAT refunds which are approved but not yet paid.

“As Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and Leader of the Opposition, I will be compiling a list of vendors for Government or from State Owned Enterprises, whether domestic or international, who are owed refunds for long periods and are facing financial hardships as a result.”

Davis added: “Through this communication, I am calling these vendors and VAT registrants to present their claims for payment or VAT or other tax refunds to me on a confidential basis and I will seek clarity from the Prime Minister on the settlement of these claims.”