Stories are part of our culture. They are part of our heritage. Every island has local tales. Every family shares vaguely recollected histories.
A favourite among Bahamians are stories of mythical creatures. The fearsome lusca that hides deep in the blue holes. The yahoes: spirits of dread pirates trapped in birdlike bodies stalking Lubbers Quarters. The mischievous chickcharnies of Andros.
And with each passing month it appears we get closer to adding another legend to our mythical bestiary. The new Marsh Harbour Terminal might as well be a fairy tale for as much good as it is doing us. And the government seems to be treating it like a fairy tale too. It has become a bedtime story to repeat to cranky Abaconians who just won’t settle down.
The previous government built the new terminal like a fairy tale castle, complete with unrealistic designs and childlike foresight. The current government turned it into a dungeon of broken promises and “maybe-next-months.” We are the ones stuck in the middle and suffering listening to a bad story.
But the government has other stories to tell us too.
The story now is how good VAT will be for the country. The story is that they are trying to reach middle ground with the business community and Bahamian people. The story is that we are sheep and they are shepherds; no need to listen to us because they know best.
The reality is that if this tax starts in the ridiculous stated time frame we have been told then, no, it will not be good for this country. The current plan is to release the new duty and tariff schedule only three months ahead of time? That is absurd.
You need to get concerned at this.
The reality is that the Coalition for Responsible Taxation, a national think tank, has put forth multiple alternatives to the government. They explain on behalf of Bahamians that VAT is folly. ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ they’re told as the government steams ahead towards VAT. And yet Minister Halkitis comes to us and says, “There is no use the government trying to impose something that the people will reject or be hostile to.” It is safe to say that the majority of the country is hostile to this.
You need to get vocal about this.
The reality is that the government works for us. Their positions do deserve respect, however, not at the cost of curtailing discussion and blind obedience. We are not parrots shaped to repeat the dogma of politics. We are Bahamians and the shapers of our own future. I have heard so many people say “Why bother?” when confronted with trying to make a difference. The government is not some invincible mythical creature that is only vulnerable every five years. They can be made to listen.
You need to make them listen.
If those in charge want to act like a government then we will see concessions made and dialogue truly opened. If they want to act like politicians then we treat them like politicians.
This country is culture is full of storytellers. I just wish our government wasn’t one of them.