The issue on the ground is ultimately this: the government is taking more of the people’s money, but doing less for the people in a tangible way with the extra money it is taking. That is what more revenue versus less expenditure ultimately amounts to in real terms. So yes, you have a figure for first quarter (and it is only first quarter), but all governments must ask themselves “how is life changing on the ground for everyday people in their everyday lives?”
Yes you are collecting more in VAT, but all that means is our bills have increased and we have less of our own money to spend. Yes you are choosing not to spend money on certain things (while finding our money to spend multiplied millions on other things), but all that means is areas that are in serious need of revenue, service and product enhancement to improve working conditions, quality of life and access to advancement are being limited. What good is it to pat yourself on the back about how the books look, when the average person is struggling to keep the power on or keep their business afloat or come out of the food store with two unfilled bags of grocery? This is the everyday reality governments since the start of VAT have yet to be able to brag about.
When it comes to VAT, the boasting by the previous and current government hasn’t been about growing the economy or growing Bahamian ownership in it. It has been about growing the public treasury revenue base by shrinking the amount of money Bahamians are left to live with and try to make ends meet. But what can the average Bahamian taxpayer boast about in their everyday Bahamian life today?
Numbers don’t lie they say. No problem. Neither does a hungry belly, a non-existent paycheck, an insufficient paycheck nor a stack of Bahamian dreams and aspirations moving further and further away from reality for far too many.