January 06, 2014
At the beginning of 2013, the battle lines were well established. The numbers bosses, who were supported by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration, were on one side seeking the legalization of web shop gaming and a lottery. Their primary opponent was the church.
Both sides stated their cases in the public sphere. After the votes were tallied, the PLP and the numbers bosses lost.
This year begins with another public fight. The government has proposed July 1 as the start date for a new value-added tax (VAT). The business community is quite against it. Our commercial leaders say the tax will help sink an already sluggish economy. The government says the tax is necessary, however, in order to close our large deficit and to ensure our debt problems do not cause a crisis down the road.
The government has pledged to begin its public education campaign on VAT this year. The business community is now raising money for its fight against the government's proposed tax.
The decision about tax reform is more significant for the future of The Bahamas than the results of any general election, businessman Dionisio D'Aguilar argued last week in an interview with this newspaper. He is urging businesses nationwide to act in their own best interests by contributing to a $180,000 fund needed by the Coalition for Responsible Taxation to conduct its own "VAT alternatives" economic analysis and public relations campaign.
"It's their livelihood and it's our country and if we don't get this right and then they roll out this tax that will detrimentally hurt your business, you will have failed to deepen the discussion and protect your business," D'Aguilar said.
"Every election politicians come cap in hand; well this is our call now... We need to protect ourselves to make sure everyone continues to survive in this economy. Every election a lot of people will tend to give a little to those campaigns, and this is an even more important battle."
D'Aguilar is president of Superwash, a chain of wash houses, and chairman of AML Foods Limited.
Mounting an effective public relations campaign will take more than $180,000. However, the act of organizing a fight against the government places Prime Minister Perry Christie and his party, yet again, against a citizens' movement.
What compounds the fight this year is the PLP is already taking a beating in the public sphere over the issue of crime. And this is for two reasons. Firstly, the PLP is the governing party. It's job is to bring solutions to national problems. To many, crime is the major national problem of these times. Secondly, during the 2012 general election campaign the PLP promised Bahamians it already had the solutions to national problems such as crime and it was ready on day one to solve them. Several hundred days have gone by and no solutions have arrived yet.
The year 2014 is starting off as another bad one for the PLP. It seems as if every day someone is being murdered. And now the business community is going to war over VAT. The people do not seem pleased with the government they elected in May 2012. Buyer's remorse and anger are setting in. The men and women who were so popular on the last election night are not so well liked anymore, it seems.
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News date : 01/06/2014 Category : Nassau Guardian Stories