Don’t believe for a minute the government’s transparent gimmick about now beginning to make the wealthy pay their fair share of the country’s tax burden.
Rather than introducing a broadly progressive tax regime (or even significantly addressing the presently highly regressive one) what the FNM is actually proposing is a mix of discretionary gimmicks and highly selective (even discriminatory) measures against certain businesses that do not comprise its traditional support base.
Numbers houses, which are the most conspicuously successful new business sector, are singled out for a special tax, while (according to Kwasi Thompson, the very minister now touting a “tax-the-rich” policy) government outright rejects general corporate taxes on the earnings of even the wealthiest local business conglomerates.
The truth is, there is nothing difficult (neither politically, nor economically) about the measures that need to be taken to address our debt and fiscal issues.
All we need is to do what every other nation on the planet does and introduce income tax on high earning individuals and corporations (which minister Thompson only recently rejected) and remove the outrageous $60,000 cap on Real Property Taxes for those monstrously expensive (and mostly foreign owned) properties that actually benefit from such a cap.
The groups that will be affected by these measures comprise a minuscule sliver of the electorate or (in the case of foreign property owners) do not vote at all.
In both cases, if they packed up and left, it would only mean an opportunity for others, including priced-out, over-taxed Bahamians. The economy would clearly benefit.
That leaves only one reason why our policy-makers seem to see some difficulty in implementing these obvious measures: because they are operating under the whip-hand of those who fund them, rather than serving the interests of the electorate or the wider economy.
1 June 2021.