79k benefited from VAT exemption on BPL bills
Clarifying a faux pas he made last week when he presented the 2019/2020 budget statement, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday that 79,000 households benefited from the government’s value-added tax (VAT) exemption on electricity bills, instead of the 23,000 he initially announced.
In November, the government made electricity bills $300 and lower VAT exempt after fuel prices pushed Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) fuel charge and electricity bills past the $200 exemption threshold. It had originally announced that electricity bills $100 or lower will be exempt from VAT, but later increased the ceiling after public outcry.
At the time, the government said 63,000 of BPL’s consumers were expected to benefit from the exemption.
Turnquest announced last week that the once temporary measure has now been made permanent and sought to tout the results from this government initiative.
As he opened the budget debate yesterday, he once again spoke to the matter.
“We made water bills under $50 and electricity bills under $300 zero-rated under VAT; and last week in my communication we announced that this would be made permanent,” he said.
“I also stated that 23,500 households would have benefited from this.
“I want to clarify that estimate at this time…after questions [were raised] in the media about our projection of 60,000 beneficial households last year.”
“The 23,500 households mentioned only accounted for those who would have benefited from the zero rating on their water bill.”
“Households that benefited from the zero rating on electricity bills actually averaged 79,000, which represents approximately 84 percent of the residential consumers in New Providence and the Family Islands.”
“So, in total, the amount of consumers that are benefiting from this change actually surpasses our initial estimate of 60,000.”
The government increased VAT from 7.5 percent to 12 percent in July 2018.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications