National Security Minister Marvin Dames said he voted for the increase in value-added tax (VAT) because he “truly believes it is the best thing for Bahamians”.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Dames said he understands Bahamians may not be happy now, but in the long run, the public will understand “it needed to be done”.
“I am a part of the government and I am one of those who would have supported the tax. I understand the mood of many Bahamians. This was not an easy decision at all,” Dames said.
“We run the risk of losing a country that way.
“The way we have been doing business in the past must come to an end and if we are going to safeguard this nation for future Bahamians, as a government, we have to make some very tough decisions. And sometimes you make decisions you know are difficult because, you too, can feel the impact. But the reality is, this is where we are a as nation.”
Dames blamed the need for a tax increase on the “reckless spending of successive governments”.
“Successive governments have been spending without any consideration for how they would pay back. We cannot keep doing that, so we have to decide now that it is the time to get our fiscal house in order. This government has presented a plan to the Bahamian people and let’s put the politics aside,” he said.
“The last five years in this country was very devastating to this country financially. Successive governments did not do a good job, so what are we going to do? Who is going to pay back this debt? Are we going to leave this problem to our children and their children?
“These are very tough decisions and I feel the mood of many Bahamians, that is not lost on me, or the government at all. There was a lot of lamentation. There was a lot of reflections. We just did not sit in a room and say this. It was hours and hours and days and days and we said what was going to be the best for Bahamians? And that is what we will do.”
On Wednesday, the government introduced an overall increase in VAT from 7.5 per cent to 12 percent – a 67 per cent increase.
Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said Wednesday that the economy is in trouble and firm measures must be implemented as interest on government loans continue to increase and the country’s finances sink deeper in the red.