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From the Editor’s Desk: Tax-Man

So much always happens when we have an extra week between issues as was the case with the one currently in your hands.

The police have done a noteworthy job of rounding up suspects of the nefarious boat theft ring. Commendable in the fact that they caught some (hopefully most) of the villains but wishing the timing could have been better. So much damage has already been done. Hopefully, with enduring public pressure, authorities will continue to treat the thieves like the scourge they are.

We were also graced by the Department of Inland Revenue and Customs. They came to tell us simple Abaconians just how well off we have it with VAT. We were also instructed not to concern ourselves with how VAT is being spent (going to a “Consolidated Fund”) because Bahamians apparently were never concerned with how customs duty used to be spent when it was the only tax in the land.

Why should we feel entitled to how the government spends our money?

Statements by Mr. Ralph Munroe, of the Department of Inland Revenue, described how VAT is “Better than sliced bread” for businesses and business owners. Jeers from the crowd revealed just how little Abaconian business owners apparently know about business. It seems the government knows what is best for the mom-and-pops struggling to feed their families and they sent someone to make it clear just how well-off we have it. We need to appreciate it more.

This coming from a government that, despite being endowed with hundreds of millions in new taxes (albeit some of that money shifted from what would have been Customs Taxes), continues to hemorrhage money and has suffered downgrade after downgrade – a trend that started with the Ingraham administration in 2009. That’s some mighty fine continuity of government.

The statements by Mr. Munroe reveal just how out of touch they are. His remarks were as distressing as they were condescending and offensive.

It was nice to hear that the Family Islands Encouragement Act is being extended until next July. I wish we had more policies such as this one that seem reasonable and reflect basic understanding of what our country, specifically a Family Island, needs. But for every Family Island Encouragement Act it seems we have a Last-Minute-Unadvertised-Hike-in-Cruising-Permits and enormous wastage in public spending.

For every dollar they save stalling the opening of the Abaco Mini-Hospital they will have to spend two on maintenance just to bring the half-decade old project up to speed.

I think we the people understand that the government needs money. I think we understand that there is no government on earth (or private institution for that matter) that operates at 100 percent efficiency. I think we understand there are misunderstanding between the public and government.

I just wish they weren’t so flippant and dismissive about it.

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