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Cooper: Make Abaco and Grand Bahama VAT-free

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper yesterday called on the government to waive value-added tax (VAT) on Grand Bahama and Abaco following Hurricane Dorian.

“We should also waive VAT on all items going into Abaco and Grand Bahama,” Cooper said during his contribution to the Hurricane Dorian (Replacement of Government Issued Documents Exemption from Fees) Bill, 2019.

“Just make them VAT-free zones.”

He continued, “Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of economics would know that if there is no economy you can collect no taxes. Also, why burden the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama in this, their hour of desperation?

“If Abaco and Grand Bahama are now tax-free zones for three years, though I have yet to see that legislation in this place, then why are you asking them to pay taxes? It is madness. They have no money to give you.”

Dorian – the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas – devastated parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September.

The storm left thousands displaced, hundreds missing and at least 65 dead.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that the affected islands would become special economic recovery zones.

Despite this, Cooper yesterday called on the governing party to “have more compassion”.

“Have a heart for the people,” he said.

“Haven’t they been through enough already? They don’t have access to computers or spreadsheets or electricity. I don’t know that the MPs for Abaco and Grand Bahama are satisfied with the progress, but their constituents are not.

“Are you so far removed from what has happened that you can’t realize they’re still suffering? We listened to much debate.

“We still have more questions than answers. We were generally disappointed with the partisan political drivel, back-patting and self-praise.

“I will tell you, however, that the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama are feeling a sense of abandonment and frustration.”

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Jasper Ward

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

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