Thursday, Aug 22, 2019
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FNM Candidate Ducks Customs Bill

Free National Movement (FNM) candidate for North Eleuthera Rickey Mackey yesterday acknowledged owing the Bahamas Customs Department “about $9,000” in unpaid taxes dating back to 2002, but said this does not compare to what has happened to The Bahamas at the hands of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government.  The Nassau Guardian contacted Mackey after PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts revealed the information at a rally in Eleuthera on Friday night, calling into question Mackey’s suitability to hold public office.  Roberts released a letter written by Mackey to the comptroller of customs on April 18, 2013 stating; “I, Rickey Mackey, of Harbour Island, Eleuthera, owe the Bahamas Customs Department $12,789.20 for Eleuthera Petroleum”.  Mackey wrote: “Sir, I really don’t have the total amount, but I am willing to make four payments of $3,197.30 per month. This payment will start from the month of April to July 2013.  “Sir, right now I have three rolls of dumpster cans that came on G&G just this Wednesday under the name of Eleuthera Petroleum and they would not be released until I have paid my outstanding (bill) with the government.”
Mackey initially told The Nassau Guardian yesterday he did not remember owing customs anything and he did not remember writing any letter to customs.  After The Guardian forwarded him the documents released by Roberts, Mackey confirmed that he still owed customs but called it a “couple dollars”.  “I think that’s a situation when I used to be in the fuel business from 2002, and as the letter indicated I think I had some stuff that came here and I wanted to clear, so I agreed — I am pretty sure I had a discrepancy with it — but I agreed in writing that, that was the case, and so I guess there’s truth to it, so tomorrow — I think the difference is some $9,000 — I’ll give the government the draft for $9,000,” Mackey said.  “That still does not take away the problems in this country that Bradley [those] are trying to shy from. While I may owe the government a couple of dollars, I think they owe the country an explanation for [how they handled our money] that has this country it in the state it is in.  “So if he feels good in digging up into what I owe the government, fine. Just as I am prepared to pay, I hope they are prepared to pay the consequences of what they have done to this country.”  Mackey later said he did not think $9,000 was an insignificant amount.
He said when he referred to it as a “couple dollars” he did so out of anger.  Asked why he did not pay the bill, Mackey, said, “Every day, people get sidetracked with bills. Every day, people have issues they have to deal with. This is no different. This is a bill which I am acknowledging now and I will pay it.  “The fact that I didn’t pay it, that’s an ongoing issue with people every day. You get bills, just like I have not paid this bill others find themselves in similar situations where they haven’t paid.   “Some can’t even afford to pay. But I can’t see Bradley Roberts them making this an issue for me when they themselves can’t pay lunch vendors; they themselves can’t keep supplies inside the clinics; they themselves haven’t paid farmers in North Eleuthera, and on and on.”  Mackey said “because it is now an issue” he will pay the balance at customs today.  He added, “I am plagued with financial challenges like everybody else, and I have to be prudent in my spending as well.”
Asked whether he expects the matter to impact his credibility — especially when he criticizes the current administration on fiscal affairs — Mackey said, “Everybody goes through challenges. At that time, I was challenged and it’s not a good thing, but from time to time people seem to lose sight of it or are not as cognizant or not as involved in taking care of some of their outstanding bills.”  Mackey said it is more important to look at the “many, many things” he has done to help people in North Eleuthera.  Pressed on why he is only now prepared to pay off his tax bill as a result of Roberts’ revelation, the FNM candidate insisted, “A lot of people pay bills late… Back then when I was dealing in the fuel business, for those who are aware of the fuel business, it’s a very, very low profit business.
“… I went through some major financial challenges and had the downgrade. This was during that period.”  In Eleuthera on Friday night, Roberts said the FNM is seeking to make public finances a major issue in the approaching election, but is fielding a bill-ducking candidate.  He said, “…the weaknesses and deficiencies of Mr. Mackey again call into question the judgement of [FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis] and the FNM’s candidates vetting process.
“Further, this revelation also projects a negative light on the FNM as an organization mired in hypocrisy.”
Yesterday, Mackey said he is concerned that Roberts has made his private information public on a rally stage, insisting that it shows how desperate the PLP is to hang onto power.
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