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Many still feeling VAT impact one year later

Some people are still grappling with the high cost of living in The Bahamas nearly one year after the government increased value-added tax (VAT) by 60 percent.

Edmond Estelhomme, 48, said it has been difficult to pay his bills since his wife died from cancer in March.

“My wife just died on March 1, so for me the struggle is real now because I had to give up my apartment, because the person who helped support me in that situation is gone, so VAT affects me a lot,” Estelhomme told The Nassau Guardian.

He added, “It has been affecting me basically like it affects everybody else, but for me it’s kind of little harder because when I could’ve went in the shop with $50 and come out with four bags of grocery, now I come out with two bags of grocery and ain’t nothing much is be in it no more.”

Leah Carr, 22, a recent university graduate, said VAT hits her “hardest” when it comes to gas prices.

“I work on one end of the island and I live on the other,” Carr said.

“I guess like everybody else I’m really feeling the tax at the gas station because the cost of gas is already high and then they’re adding VAT.”

She said she hopes the government decreases VAT sometime soon.

While Walter Dean, a 57-year-old father of six, admitted the cost of living has become more difficult to afford, he said still supports the government’s decision to increase VAT.

“My life has been impacted and I wouldn’t sit here to complain, and I wouldn’t sit here and tell you it’s a roll in the hay or it’s a beach picnic,” Dean said.

“It’s better that we deal with this now than for the whole country to be in bigger problems and then all of us sitting outside, like back in the day when we really didn’t have it, sitting outside wondering where the next thing coming from when the economy of The Bahamas has collapsed.

“We need to bite the bullet now and deal with it now and then move on later.”

VAT was first introduced in The Bahamas in January 2015 under the Christie administration.

During his tenure as opposition leader, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis vowed to repeal the tax.

In 2013, Minnis said VAT would “seriously impair the already weak, uncompetitive and struggling Bahamian economy and harm and diminish the quality of life of every Bahamian”.

However, in July 2018, the Minnis administration increased VAT from 7.5 percent to 12 percent.

The government experienced a $50 million increase in VAT collections in the second quarter of the 2018/2019 fiscal year, according to The Central Bank of The Bahamas’ (CBOB) Quarterly Economic Review report.

Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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