Maybe next year for VAT-free day, says minister
While it is unlikely to happen this year, the government is still considering implementing an annual value-added tax-free day, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday.
Asked about the Free National Movement’s (FNM) promise on the campaign trail, Turnquest told reporters outside Cabinet, “We’re thinking about that.
“I would probably say that this year it is unlikely, but we haven’t come to a conclusion on that.”
Turnquest’s comments follow the government’s announcement during the budget contribution that value-added tax (VAT) will be increased from 7.5 percent to 12 percent effective July 1.
“That is something that we would like to offer because, again, we know getting back to school is expensive, so we would like to be able to do something like that,” Turnquest added.
“And that’s the kind of thing we can consider, next year, because once we pay this large trench of past bills this year, $172 million, next year we have a bit of room that we can look at things like a VAT-free weekend.
“And we would like to do that for the Bahamian people because, again, we recognize that what we are asking is a sacrifice.
“It is a significant expenditure or additional cost for the average family.
“So, we would love to be able to offer things like VAT-free weekends, but at this particular juncture, because the issues that we are faced with are so significant, I doubt we are going to be able to do it this year, but certainly it is something that we are thinking about.”
In January 2015, during a national address, then opposition leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said if elected, his party will introduce an annual tax-free day in August.
“The FNM also believes that additional help should be provided by the declaration of an annual tax-free day in August, associated with the back-to-school shopping timeframe, to assist families with school-aged children,” Minnis said.
“We are very concerned by the many reports of overpricing by businesses, which took place even before VAT’s implementation.
“To this end, the FNM will be vigilant and watchful with the best interest of the people at heart.”
Minnis also said at the time that his government will introduce tax-free zones for the revitalization of the Over-the-Hill community.
The government has already released a white paper on its inner city rejuvenation plans.
JUMPLINE: ‘We recognize that what we are asking is a sacrifice’