Feb 1, 2023

The Opposition rejects any discussion on any additional tax measure being proposed by this adrift and unaccountable Davis Administration. We make this statement in response to the media reports regarding the plans of the Davis Administration to introduce a tax

on sugar and salt as announced by Minister Michael Darville. First, who are we to believe, didn’t the Prime Minister say no new taxes? The FNM has been clear and unwavering on the issue of tax reform. As we have said repeatedly, before this government can even begin to discuss new revenue measures, it MUST put forward a proper fiscal and economic plan to the Bahamian people that explain the context of any revenue proposaland shows reduced wasteful and unnecessary spending. It is inconceivable that this Government is even talking about new taxes and has failed to provide the legally mandated Fiscal Strategy Report due in November 2022.

The FNM deeply believes in improving and has worked tirelessly to address the crisis of non-communicative diseases in the Bahamas. Studies show that while the increase in the cost of unhealthy food does decrease its consumption, price decreases have a larger effect on diet. Where are the Government’s plans to decrease the cost of healthy foods and provide help to those less fortunate to obtain healthy foods? The FNM calls on the Government to first implement subsidies for healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables before it increases the tax burden on working Bahamians. The Government is once again putting the cart before the horse. Any sugar tax discussion must be secondary to a holistic plan to address the real issues.

We need proper policies to improve the school food environment. We need a national commitment to providing healthy breakfast and lunch meals to all school-aged children We need to strengthen monitoring of the School Tuck Shop Guidelines. We need a

public awareness campaign in collaboration with the private sector and civil society.

This administration has been on a wild spending spree. It is spending additional millions of dollars on travel and on consultancies and contracts to any number of persons. Just look at URCA’s proposed budget for conferences, training, and travel in 2023, from $96,521 to $627,500 an increase of 566%.

It has refused to follow the law and provide the details on who is getting these

contracts. The FNM will not support new revenue measures to fund the extravagance and indulgent spending of the PLP. At the same time, this government has raised taxes on the poor by reintroducing VAT on breadbasket goods, medicine and baby care items.

And at the same time, it has reduced taxes for their wealthy friends and cronies by decreasing taxes on million-dollar homes and yachts. They have cut more than $30 million from the Social Services budget even while admitting that Bahamian families still need more social welfare assistance.

The FNM says again: Put down yourarrogant ways. Prepare for the Bahamian people the Fiscal Strategy Report, and prepare a comprehensive white paper on tax and fiscal reform that lays out what you intend to do for revenue and expenditure management for the country. Have a full dialogue with all Bahamian stakeholders. Only then can reasonable Bahamians give consideration to any new measures.

J. Kwasi Thompson

Member of Parliament East Grand Bahama/Shadow Minister for Finance January 30, 2023

Pin It on Pinterest