Friday, Jan 24, 2020
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How the FNM can have a shot at winning the next election 

Dear Editor, 

Regardless of what you hear from the current administration’s financiers and upper echelon generals, the government’s recovery effort is all but another Category 5 slamming The Bahamas again.

With the exception of private sector organization and mobilization, internationally it is known as the worse recovery and preparedness (both pre and post) plan in the history of the modern world.

While a certain newspaper pushes its agenda (an extension of the Old York Times) with propaganda from wealthy elites and FNM ambassadors behind certain gates, 80 percent of Bahamians are still suffering under this administration’s policies.

It’s so bad that the same 80 percent feel the PLP will be the savior of the nation. Get that? The former administration allegedly riddled with scandal, conflicts of interests, etc. is now viewed as the second coming. The PLP would win in a landslide if the election were held today.

You would be hard-pressed to find an administration since independence that has so blatantly stabbed the Bahamian people both in the back and chest. No administration in the history of The Bahamas has put unbearable regulation and substantially increased the cost of living on the Bahamian people to such a level forcing the majority of the population into poverty. If I didn’t know better, it’s almost on purpose.

This administration is a joke and directly responsible for eliminating the middle class average Bahamian.

If you are to have any shot, any shot at all of being elected in 2022 (unless you are ousted before), I suggest the current government save some sort of face by enacting some or all of the following:

1) Reduce VAT to 9.5 percent — While it isn’t much, it would be a good faith gesture to the lower and middle class as you have taken five to six weeks of their salary per annum at the 12 percent rate.

Five to six weeks salary of the bank teller, gas attendant, cashiers, secretary, plumber, electrician (I can go on and on) with absolutely nothing to show for it.

One insane, asinine budget bill and less than a year later it has bankrupted hard working families. And while the upper echelon behind the gates running the nation with this party as their puppet can afford such without changing their lifestyle whatsoever, the average Bahamian making $1 to $100,000 per annum is crushed.

Unfortunately we have a DPM who is completely clueless on what it’s like to be in that income category and is determined to crush this sector of the country at any cost whatsoever.

2) Abandon this ridiculous moronic real property tax exercise in middle and lower income communities.

Firstly, you have people from the other side of the planet conducting valuations on what our properties are worth when we have fully qualified Bahamians at the real property tax (RPT) department who understand the market and true value of properties, not some Indian Ocean resident who punches a number in the computer arbitrarily determining an amount .

Who are these people who have absolutely no clue about real estate here in The Bahamas telling us what our properties should be taxed at?!

It’s ironic. Years ago government wanted market value as a means to increase the tax. Now that the middle class market is all but dead, they want a cost approach value (replacement value) as they know you can’t sell the property for as much as it would cost to build.

This is mainly due to the increased red tape this administration implemented and the 12 percent VAT placed on the costs of all our goods! This RPT increase alone will now take yet another three to four weeks of your salary.

I encourage every Bahamian homeowner not to pay five cents more than a 20 percent increase.

Government capped the obscene wealthy in these gated communities in the west just from one threat via a letter from a homeowners association in one such community.

Homes worth $35 million are now capped at $60,000 up from $50,000 (a mere 20 percent increase and only .16 percent of the property value).

However, average communities such as a Village Road, Blair, Westward Villas, The Grove etc. are being increased from $500 to over $3,000+ per annum, an increase in the area of 600 percent and approximately .61 percent of the property value.

This is nearly 400 percent more, percentage wise, than what the wealthy pay. In the spirit of today’s socialist environment, I think it’s only fair these property owners pay their fair share.

I’m sorry, but fair is fair. I repeat, any low to middle income Bahamian, do not pay more than a 20 percent increase. If government persists, take the matter up in court. No judge will throw you out of your house when the facts are presented.

If your property is worth $300,000 and government says it’s worth $800,000, call your attorney to draft a sales agreement and ask government for the check. In the spirit of cooperation give them 90 days to close.

3) Postpone the plastic ban for one to two years. While I agree with the concept and the end goal, nearly all residents in Abaco and Grand Bahama lost everything; therefore, they can’t quite go out and spend hundreds of dollars on new dish, and cutlery sets, much less glasses, cups, etc.

This will enable people to have at least a basic minimal standard of living for the time being while you can spend more time trying to get a body count right, because as of now you are so far off it’s no wonder why you can’t do the math in your yearly budgets.

4) Increase cruising permits to $5,000 per year or a monthly fee of $600 for vessels entering our waters. This is quite reasonable considering the hit on our environment and marine resources such as fish, conch, etc.

Despite what the marinas say, this is less than a drop in the bucket for what these mega yachts are worth.

These elites want the big fancy toys; it comes with a cost. Five thousand dollars per annum equates to a little over $400 per month.

Many of these boats have a minimum of six to 10 people who certainly have the means to pay $50 per month each.

I understand the mariners’ cry, but believe me, given what they save in fuel by not having to go farther south in the Caribbean, this fee is is a joke.

Additionally, given the regulations, restrictions, licenses, etc. needed in the Florida Keys (which is farther away in many cases) they aren’t going anywhere.

Furthermore, to not look like the greedy government officials you already are, you can do it under the guise of hurricane relief: “We need the fees to rebuild, organize, supplies, etc.”

Under the hurricane relief push, I think most of these billionaires (who would actually walk the “fair share” walk and not just the “fair share” talk) wouldn’t have a problem with $400 to $600 per month.

5) Increase boat registration by 50 percent.

While that sounds horrific, it’s something we Bahamians might absorb. I believe boats up to 30 feet is $20 per annum and over 30 feet is $100. If you put the fee to $30 and $150 respectively there won’t be any major push back.

And while monetarily it’s not massive in terms of dollars it is a large percentage increase without us wanting to send you to Fox Hill or entertain a Guy Fawkes type of solution after what you’ve done to this nation.

It’s too bad we have CPAs, MDs, attorneys, etc. in power who aren’t intelligent enough and would rather send us into poverty rather than coming up with reasonable solutions to increase taxes (sorry I mean revenue).

I’m dumb and seem to find ways to increase revenue with ease. They certainly don’t even understand decreasing spending whatsoever; that would be too simple and straight forward.

6) Increase the gas tax by $.05.

You can do this under the guise of hurricane relief as well. While gas is high enough already this is a minimal impact way to gain funds for rebuilding (starting with power plants throughout all of the Bahamas).

For most drivers purchasing 20 gallons per week this would be an increase of $1, while boaters would see an increase of $15 on 300 gallons and so on.

However, there must be a sunset clause on this tax of three years. We don’t want government getting too comfortable and greedy, which all of you tend to do with increased waste and incompetence. Therefore, this tax expires in three years, period; no extensions, amendments or tricky legal jargon to extend or increase it.

7) Please terminate, or to let him have some dignity, let the DPM and minister of finance resign.

Don’t wait until next election where he says he isn’t running. Just go now please! Even if you have to advance his salary, do it.

The country can’t survive another two years of his budgets and the way he (or whoever is advising him) calculates numbers.

You’ve succeeded in one thing and one thing only — a cost of living that makes living in London or New York look cheap.

Your budgets only cause paralysis of the poor and middle class while rewarding obscene wealth.

I can go on and on critiquing this administration with its suffocating regulations, waste, etc.

I don’t even want to get into the new Bahamas customs entry system where you are forced to pay your duty when the entry isn’t even ready and a computer program that automatically rejects the entry all the while they have your duty money and you have no goods.

Maybe we should try that. No one pay their property tax, business license, etc., until we see government put in proper street lighting, power (that works), phone lines that work, etc. I wonder how they would respond?

As I try and conclude this letter (which I’ve been trying to do for two months), it has now come to my attention that we can’t even keep the power on during an internationally televised tournament and in the breath before,”we need to add a tax to your BPL bill”, hence another weeks’ salary gone for struggling Bahamians.

If the power stayed on for more than 20 consecutive minutes this letter would have been to the newspaper in October. Once again, BPL you are a joke.

Downtown Christmas tree disaster; when does it stop!?

Nonetheless, I hope you wake up. I truly doubt you will but there’s always hope.

However as of now a donkey would win in a landslide if the election were held today; well certainly three birds and a goat would win their seats.

To quote The Bahamas’ most popular political commentator, next election, “I for one am going to da beach!”

Christopher Armaly

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