( As reported by The Tribune 1 December 2021. The writer is the head of Fidelity Bank in The Bahamas and is also a former President of the Chamber of Commerce. He is also the head of the Coalition For Responsible taxation—Editor)
“Whilst this may seem like a very harsh statement, that’s a position that’s been taken naively with the empirical information and ignorant of the actual advice given to both the Christie administration and his administration on the most appropriate VAT system.
“To argue a case not grounded in empirical data is misleading and unhelpful to educating the population. When political parties make statements without backing them up with some empirical data, it does a disservice to our country.
“I would only ask that whenever they do that, don’t make emotional statements without evidence to support it. When you add exemptions and take the rate to 12 percent, however you look at it in bringing it down to 10 percent with no exemptions, 12 percent doesn’t make it cheaper for the poor.
“These arguments against the Government’s policy is like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.
“It’s far better to charge everyone and redistribute Robin Hood style from the rich to the less fortunate.I’d much rather charge all and redistribute to those in need so the innocent do not suffer for the guilty. The Oxford Economics research commissioned by the Coalition, as well as the Compass Lexacon study for the Government as well as Inter-American Development (IDB) modelling had all recommended The Bahamas adopt such a VAT structure.
“Too often we give too much publicity to idle statements, We need to get very critical of those who utter nonsense words, and if they are without validity or credibility they should not be rebroadcast or published.
“At least have an informed basis when you make statements. That goes for all persons in positions of authority. We live in a time where it is so volatile that any emotional statement that touches the right channel gets people to close their minds to facts. We have to stop that. We need to have a debate about fact not merely emotions.
“When we start forcing them to participate in a structured manner it stops what I call idle chatter and we get back to a learned position, and that’s what we all have to strive for.
“Having a complex VAT system does not benefit The Bahamas. The simpler it is, the better it is. KISS. Keep it simple stupid.
“When they talk about the impact on the economy and doomsday predictions, I don’t get too worked up about that. If done, would it have been effective and efficient? No. Would people have adjusted? Yes. Let’s not go into hypotheticals and set aside the theatrics.
“I think then change in the VAT system to add exemptions and increase the rate beyond 7.5 percent was based on would that benefit the average household as opposed to empirically studying it.”