Government’s announcement of an increase in value-added tax (VAT) to 12 per cent sent taxpayers buzzing all day Wednesday, as they questioned the promises made by the Minnis administration prior to taking office.
“It’s crazy that they’re doing what they said they wouldn’t do,” Gennie Saunders told Eyewitness News moments after the announcement was made in the House of Assembly (HOA).
“At 7.5 per cent it was tough. It isn’t like unemployment is down.
“I don’t have a problem paying VAT but leave it to the 7.5 per cent.”
While in opposition, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis – who was the Free National Movement (FNM) leader at the time, along with FNM member Darron Cash, openly ostracized the previous administration’s decision to implement VAT.
Cash said during an interview back in 2013, that then Prime Minister Perry Christie needed “to put the brakes on this impending July 1, 2014, VAT trainwreck.”
Cash noted before VAT could be rolled out, the idea “revealed critical weaknesses in the Christie administration”.
Up until the May 2017 General Elections, the FNM pledged to remove VAT from breadbasket items, education fees, water and light bills and medicine.
During yesterday’s 2018 budget communication, the Minnis administration made true on those promises while shocking the nation with a 67 per cent increase in VAT.
Lakita Bethel also spoke to Eyewitness News and called the decision a huge blow.
“It’s a devastating blow to the average person,” she said.
“The cost of living is still very high.
“We as a country have to be more diverse in our economic base. We need to find different ways to gain income and to find money.”
Dol’ Julien Russell, another concerned citizen said, the timing just isn’t right.
“Right now Bahamian people are struggling. They can’t afford it,” he said.
For Jason Smith, the increase was inevitable.
“I don’t feel there was any running from it,” he said.
“The previous government was blowing money fast… Why don’t they cut their paychecks instead?”