“Having governed this country, we were satisfied that the VAT revenue at 7.5% coupled with our revenue enhancement measures and a pro-growth economic strategy were sufficient to defray the government’s day to day operational costs. We felt that with opening of Baha Mar, the Pointe, the sale of the Lucayan Hotel complex in Freeport, the cruise port in East Grand Bahama, the Ocean Cay development (MCL), the sovereign airspace management agreement etc, there was no need for a hike in VAT. Let me be unequivocal in our opposition to this tax hike. It is a mistake and can induce a double dip recession.
“A note about this Revenue Enhancement Unit (REU). This unit within the Ministry of Finance collected $25 million to $30 million per month and their work was commended by international credit ratings agencies. This unit was not floundering. The Minister of Finance dismantled the unit and revenue collection suffered; the REU should be immediately re-established to its full manpower strength to carry out its important mandate.
“Additionally, independent assessments on real property tax identified some 200 unregistered commercial properties in New Providence. Once registered, this would yield an additional $30 million annually in real property tax revenue to the public coffers, but registration mysteriously did not take place. Why is that? Did politics play a role in this?
“Consultants identified collection gaps of between $400 million and $600 million and the REU was tasked to close this huge gap.”