While Prime Minister Philip Davis and his administration marked their second anniversary in office with Davis touting what he viewed as a list of achievements that have made life better for Bahamians, Free National Movement Chairman Dr. Duane Sands charged that the Davis administration has made it hard for citizens to survive.
“Prime Minister Davis said by raising much needed revenue without adding any new taxes things will get better in this country. Well, he’s also had two budgets with the highest expenditure ever in the history of The Bahamas,” Sands said yesterday.
“And two years into this horrible day administration, life for ordinary Bahamians just keeps getting more and more difficult, and they are tired of this miserable life.
“So Mr. Davis, maybe there aren’t any new taxes – I say maybe – but we got a drayload of levies, tariffs, duties, tolls, excises, contributions, assessments, burdens, loads, weights, incumbrance, demands and strains that yinna put on the Bahamian people back since 2021.”
Sands pointed to the high cost of living, which is burdening many Bahamians.
“Now let me give you specifics, the light bills, electricity, current, gone up by 160 percent, and now you come with this new promise that the bill will soon come down. You know what the old people say, a promise is a comfort to a fool. And we expect yinna story to change as oil prices go up around the world as they are,” he said.
Bahamas Power and Light recently
confirmed that its fuel charge – which was nearly three times as high as it was last summer – will begin to go down after months of increases.
Sands said the cost of everything has gone up.
“Before this new day grab, people might have been able to move a little something from one pile to the next, but everything gone up, everything,” he said.
“It used to be that you could shift a couple dollars from the mortgage to the light bill, but now y’all have Inland Revenue raiding people’s bank accounts and taking out their money first, so when they go to pay school fees money gone.”
Last year, Acting Controller of the Department of Inland Revenue Shunda Strachan warned that the government would garnish the wages of those who have been delinquent in paying their taxes. The agency is legally empowered to take such action, and would undoubtedly take exception to the use of the word “raid”.
The Nassau Guardian reported in May that the department had started garnishing the bank accounts of businesses that were severely in arrears and had not made arrangements to correct their debt to the government.
Expanding further on the high cost of living yesterday, Sands said, “House insurance, if you could still get it, up by 9 percent, health insurance with VAT, up, food costs up, gas and diesel higher now than in 2021 and climbing again.
“The consumer price index, yinna official numbers say that it’s up by 10 percent from 2021.”
The latest report from the Bahamas National Statistical Institute (BNSI), which was the consumer price index for June 2023, showed that the consumer price index rose three percent over the same period last year.
BNSI reported that diesel prices along with gasoline declined 23 percent and 15 percent, respectively, compared to this period in 2022.
The Davis administration has repeatedly noted that inflation is imported.
The government implemented measures last year to help blunt the impact of the high costs, though it is unclear how effective those have been.
No relief is expected in the immediate term.
In its “Monthly Economic and Financial Developments July 2023” report, which was released on September 4, the Central Bank said, “Inflation is projected to remain high in the near-term, although decreasing over the medium to long term, with a lag to moderating price trends in the major trading markets and delayed fuel cost pass-through in domestic energy costs.
“Nevertheless, uncertainty in international oil prices, and supply chain shortages, related to geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe are upside risks to inflation.”
The Free National Movement contends, however, that the actions of the Davis administration have made inflation worse in The Bahamas.
“Whether you making $260 per week or $460 per week, or $660 per week, this administration has made it hard to survive,” Sands said.
“Yes, we are tired of this miserable life and at the same time, ministers and their entourage spending money left, right and center, and the prime minister? Well, he gone again.
“And so, on this anniversary two years in, it is they, the PLP administration living high on the hog and everybody else paying for it.
“The new day is not a better day; but hold on, unstoppable change is coming.”
The Progressive Liberal Party won 32 of the 39 seats in the House of Assembly in the September 16, 2021 general election.