Contribution to the Value added tax amendment bill December 6th, 2018
Once again, it is an honor and a pleasure to stand here to make my contribution to this debate on this Value added tax amendment bill. As always, I want to thank my God above, the ever Creator, most merciful and loving God, for allowing me to be here and to speak in the service of my people. Also, I wish to once again publicly thank my leader and Prime Minister, the most honorable Dr. Hon. Hubert Minnis, for entrusting me with this high honor to speak on behalf of the people especially the youth of our nation.
We live in a world where powerful countries control certain markets. We live in a world where powerful countries controls the prices and in this case the cost of oil. According to CNBC.com published report Mon, 30 July 2018, US crude rises 2.1%, settling at $70.13, boosted by signs of tight oil supply. Last month, November 30th 2018 to be exact, global oil prices have dropped from around $79 per barrel to $55 per barrel. In October, BPL purchased 241,743 barrels of diesel oil for New Providence and 79,199 barrels for the Family Islands. BPL purchased months of supply because of the known and proven unstableness of the oil market prices. However, BPL officials have said that decrease won’t be realized on customers’ bills for several months.
Members opposite who are senior to me have told their supporters and even the country that the FNM is carrying the light bill up and trying to kill the Bahamian people. This is nothing more than a lie from the pits of hell! As a matter of fact, the former executive chairman of BPL and PLP MP Mr. Leslie Miller said in the tribune back in 2016 “that the biggest cost at the corporation is the cost of fuel.”
Also I want to say publicly that I agree 100% with the Minister responsible for BPL Hon. Desmond Bannister when he said in the lower house that anyone who seeks to be irresponsible in seeking to confuse the Bahamian people or cast blame on the increases on the FNM government, knows better!
This is a proud moment for our country and for the people of The Bahamas. And the reason why I say that is because this FNM government is once again demonstrating that it still has the connection with the average Bahamian in being understanding and at the same time bringing relief during these unpredictable and uncontrollable times.
Relief……that is the word that best describes this bill. I say that because in 2015 under the PLP’s watch as the government, they introduced vat on the Bahamian people and explained that the money will be used to pay off the national debt and we see that didn’t happen but what befuddles me is that the same people who are talking, didn’t do diddly squat to bring relief for the Bahamian people when slapping vat on electricity. And not just on electricity, water, education, health, medicine insurance, to cut a long story short, they put on everything.
With that being done they didn’t care about relief on the poor man, they didn’t care about relief for the single mother, and they didn’t care about relief for the struggling families out there. They simply just didn’t care about offering relief to the Bahamian people.
The bible teaches us in Matthew Chapter 25 and I quote, Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Let me repeat that again because I don’t think that the opposition appreciates what the bible is teaching us what we should do and what’s we are discussing today. The bible is talking about bringing relief for the people.
This FNM government is doing just that!
In 2015, 2016 & even the 2017 budget which was prepared by them, there was NOOO vat exemption on W&S, Education, medicine, insurance premiums or even BPL. NO RELIEF none what so ever! But this FNM government in the 2018 budget delivered on their promises by removing vat from W&S, education, medicine, BPL and the list goes on. The FNM introduced vat exemption on bills on or less than $200 and a few months later due to the uncontrollable and unstable markets, the vat exemption on electricity increased to $300. This is what you call a caring government unlike the former administration, who didn’t do anything to bring relief, but this FNM government is demonstrating that despite the challenges and uncertainty in the world markets, this administration will do all in its power to bring relief to the Bahamian people.
The former administration talks about how this government has up to 5,000 Bahamians living in the dark because of the high electricity bills and what is now being done is nothing more than a political gimmick, show and the lists goes on….If I recall, back in 2016 after they slapped vat on the average Bahamian with no types of relief in place or in sight, this same bunch had over 12,000 Bahamians living in darkness all because you intentionally failed to give the Bahamian people the much needed relief they needed to keep their lights on. According to the Tribune December 2016 article, they quoted the former DPM & Minister responsible for BPL who is now the leader of the PLP saying “the government was working with Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) to write off many of the company’s delinquent accounts.”
The article then continue on by saying the CEO, who they hired at that time spoke out against them and she reiterated that BPL officials were “not in any talks” with the government over a forgiveness or write-off programme. Additionally, BPL officials have said they have no plans to restore power to the homes of delinquent customers.
Since the FNM’s ascension to office we brought relief to the people and ensure that medicine the doctor prescribed was not for a few, but for all who was willing to keep their lights on and pay back what they owe to the Bahamian people in incremental stages. Because of that much needed people’s time relief, we saw a dramatic drop in the amount of homes living in darkness. I say to the Bahamian people, when it comes to the PLP talkers they are, doers they are not!
While they make fun of this relief bill as I would like to call it, keep in mind that over 64,000 Bahamians will continue to benefit from this.
When I look at the data, I see since July 2018 there seems to be an upward projection where Bahamians are taking advantage of this relief and keeping their bills below $200 . Islands like Abaco, Exuma, Mayaguana, Crooked & Acklins, Eleuthera, Andros and the list goes on have all taken advantage of the $200 vat exemption relief
So now the government is raising the exemption to $300, which automatically means more Bahamians who normally see their light bills at $300 will begin to experience relief this government is going to bestowed on them.
So while you throw some shade here and there or even make a mockery of this bill, Bahamians living Abaco, Andros, Acklins, Bimini, Cat island, Eleuthera, Crooked island, Exuma, Great Harbour Cay, Inagua, Mangrove cay, San Salvador, Nassau, Mayaguana and the list goes on, will all continue to benefit from this vat exemption relief!
I would like to publicly congratulate this administration, this FNM administration for keeping their word to bring relief for the common man, the average Bahamian in these uncontrollable and unpredictable times. This government while fixing the colossal economic mess the former administration left behind, is working every day to improve our image not just on the national level but on the international level. At the same time, the government is bringing relief to the Bahamian people, in incremental stages. The reality is nothing will happen overnight, but based on this government determination and steadfast actions, things will get better by 2022. Again cleaning after the PLP is no joke, but we will do a better job compare to how we met it.
I support this vat exemption amended to BPL because it brings relief to ALL Bahamians and this is what caring governments do. May God continue to guide this government, may God continue to bless the Bahamian people & may God continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.