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Another FNM MP rejects VAT hike

Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller said yesterday that he cannot support the government’s planned increase of value-added tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 12 percent because it will be too burdensome on the poor, middle class, and on small and medium-size businesses.

Miller said he was conveying the sentiments of his constituents.

“Among the promises I made [during the election campaign] was one regarding my initials, Vaughn Miller – VM,” Miller said during his contribution to the 2018/2019 budget.

“I promised them, if given the opportunity to serve them, I would be their voice maximized.

“As it relates to the contents of the budget, the aesthetics, for the most part persons welcomed and appreciated it.

“However, they wanted to talk about the increases in VAT from the present 7.5 percent to the intended 12 percent. To sum it up, the majority of them were against it. They understand the economic and the financial challenges.

“But overwhelmingly stated that 12 percent is too aggressive, too soon and advised me, ‘Slow your roll, Miller. Slow down’.

“They were not opposing an increase, mind you, but they felt that 12 percent was too much. They wanted to know… about incremental increases up to 10 percent.

‘The vast majority of them instructed me to convey these sentiments: Twelve percent is too much, too soon.

“So Golden Isles cannot support the 60 percent VAT increase from 7.5 percent to 12 percent.

“It is too aggressive.

“It is too much. It is too soon. I am merely the conduit. I am merely the messenger. I have made a vow to speak as they ask me to speak.

“I am their servant. Personally, I think this form of taxation, as has been stated before, is regressive and, in my opinion, repressive. The poor and the middle class will have to carry this burden disproportionately.”

Miller said a more fair and favorable form of taxation would be income tax or even payroll tax. He argued that the government could exempt people below a particular salary scale.

As for VAT, he said, “This is too burdensome on the poor and the middle class and small and medium-sized businesses.”

Miller is the third FNM MP to voice opposition to an increase in VAT.

Centreville MP Reece Chipman said the increase will result in additional hardship for Bahamians.

Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine said the increase is “void of transparency and compassion and highly disrespectful to Bahamians”.

Long Island MP Adrian Gibson said he supports the increase but believes that the government should postpone the implementation date.

The increase takes effect July 1.

The increase in VAT is expected to bring in an additional $400 million in new revenue.

Public Domain conducted a telephone survey between June 2 and June 6, 2018 on the government’s budget.

Eighty-six percent of respondents believe the government should have engaged in public consultation prior to proposing this new budget.

Seventy-six percent of those surveyed oppose the budget; 24 percent support it and 73 percent oppose an increase in VAT.





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