Former M.P. Pierre Dupuch comments on tax on Bahamian Gambling Industry

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By Pierre V. L. Dupuch
June 18, 2018

I don’t like gambling. I think it’s addictive, it harms children’s wellbeing and it takes money from the poor. If gambling is allowed it should be in the form of a lottery with all money earmarked for Education and Health.

That’s my opinion.

Ever since the FNM stated they planned to target the local numbers industry with up to 50% taxes, I have heard comments like:

“The Government should stick it to them! They have too much money!!”

That seems to be the opinion of many.

The PLP Government had a referendum on gambling.

Pierre Dupuch
The people voted against it.

Regardless of that, the Government passed it and made it law. Just like it gives out licenses to grocery stores, barber shops, liquor stores, it made the “numbers houses” legal.

The amount of money the institution makes is irrelevant, so long as it is legal. So to pick out any institution which it licenses to “stick it to them” is wrong and leads to instability.

It sets a serious precedent. If you make money, and the Government decides to single you out to tax you, it is unacceptable. It may look good to some but it sets a serious and dangerous precedent. Every time the Government passes a law a precedent is created.

What the precedent says is that anybody who the Government perceives to be rich can be selected. They didn’t say the gambling industry because that would include the foreign owned gambling casinos. Instead, they singled out Bahamian owned gambling operations.

Isn’t that interesting? To the foreign owned gambling operations they say “yes sir boss” and to the locally owned gambling operations they say “let’s stick it to them”.

If they can do it to gambling they can do it to the grocery store or anybody else. In an already fragile economy this is a scary proposition.

For example, if an investor sees an opportunity to invest under a certain tax regime in The Bahamas, and invests accordingly based on the tax regime, only to find that the Government changes it midstream, the investor could lose their investment and therefore would not invest in new businesses.

I know of what I speak. It happened to me!!

Uncertainty, is the biggest problem to get Bahamians to invest. We make all kinds of concessions to foreign institutions, but no concessions to Bahamians.

This is the underlying problem in The Bahamas. We say “yes sir boss” to the outsider but “we’ll stick it to ya if you is a Bahamian”.

To add insult to injury, the FNM who, at this point and without consultation, pushed it down the throats of the numbers house industry, sent their attack dog, Carl Bethel, after those who object!!

He said the objectors would be rooted out of the holes and prosecuted. Oh, I thought Carl Bethel was the Attorney General whose job it is to send cases to trial and to staff the courts with sufficient judges to deal with all the cases in a timely manner.

I thought Marvin Dames, the Minister of National Security, was the man to order the “rooting out” of those suspected of a crime.

Rather than being the “bully boys” the Government should make money by saving money. How many millions have been spent on those so-called “forensic auditors”? I thought they were supposed to be investigating those “PLP crooks and prosecuting them”?

Did they find any crooks? Or when they opened that can of worms did they find an equal amount of worms wearing red shirts as they found wearing yellow shirts?

The FNM seems to spend most of their time trying to condemn the PLP when they have been guilty of the same thing, wasting money.

They continually condemn Brave Davis for having two clinics in Cat Island. They call it a waste. That’s odd. Who built the hospital in Exuma? How much did it cost? Do they have anyone there who can operate the state of the art equipment? How big is it? Was it paid for out of National Insurance money? Is this why National Insurance is going broke?

The same questions plus others can be asked about Abaco. Waste, waste, absolute waste!!!!

Has anyone ever walked down Shirley Street and seen the steps from Shirley Street to the hospital entrance? Nobody uses them. How much did they cost?

Looks pretty, eh? Rather than spending money on fancy steps, would it not have been better to spend it on saving lives? Waste, waste, utter waste.

My suggestion is that both the FNM and the PLP acknowledge that mistakes have been made by both sides, sit down and work together to get this country out of the mess it is now in.

But before sitting down each one should read “The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins. They will then realize what real challenges face this country!!

It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Bahamian people to read it as well.