Govts have ignored advice on VAT alternatives, revealed Bowe
President of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Gowon Bowe insisted that politicians do away with fulfilling campaign promises at the expense of sound economic decisions. He also explained that governments have been presented with value-added tax (VAT) alternatives many times and have ignored that advice.
Bowe, who was recently at the government’s release of its draft Fiscal Responsibility Bill, explained to Guardian Business that government must present the information, analyses and empirical data that led to the decision that raising VAT from 7.5 percent to 12 percent was in the best interest of the fiscal health of the country.
“Are decisions being made devoid of political promises, are decisions being made in the best interest of the country for long term growth and development, and not solely to make a statement of ‘so said, so done’?
“We must support our leaders, but this does not mean disagreement is lack of support. We want our leaders to respect that the wealth of experience and expertise outside of the government is far greater than in the government, simply by the law of numbers, therefore collaboration is the best approach.”
Bowe said he fully supports the government and has always given his full support to successive governments when his advice was sought.
“A request for my collaboration, advice and/counsel has never been denied, a fact that any member of the Cabinet, current and past, can attest,” he said.
Despite this fact, government kept its plan to increase VAT away from the private sector and did not say why, despite its commitment through the Fiscal Responsibility Bill to consultation moving forward – though those consultations will be non-committal. Bowe also expressed the need for government to ensure the Fiscal Responsibility Bill is comprehensive in its requirements for fiscal restraint, limits and timelines.
“BICA and other parties with technical capacity should be part of forming these benchmarks – this should not be left to external parties advising the government, but rather must be a collaborative effort,” he said. “There is no need to rush legislation or hurry the determination of benchmarks.”