Those opposed to VAT also opposed NI years ago…

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Those opposed to VAT also opposed NI years ago…

Dear Editor,

I have listened to the pros and cons over this VAT issue and I have accepted that the time is now for us to move this country forward.

If you listen to the naysayers in all this debate, you will hear the same voices you heard back in the early 70s who were against National Insurance. I lived back then and I remember the arguments well. They said when National Insurance came into force it was going to send Bahamians into bankruptcy. Those opposed to NI said businesses would collapse and job losses would be the future of the country.

Those who opposed NI said the country would become a dependent state and we, the Bahamian people, would be resigned to poverty. Nothing was further from the truth.

What I see getting in our conversations are people who want to see the Bahamas fail, and thus they echo the negative to instill fear into the ear of the stakeholders.

Today, National Insurance can be credited as a great saviour for every ordinary worker. Even the unemployed owe a debt of gratitude to the visionaries of NI. They have assured a social safety net for future generations, especially for the weakest in our communities.

Our senior citizens, the precious pearls, would be no better than beggars had it not been for NI, despised and resigned into abject poverty by the wealthy of this society. Thank GOD FOR NI!

Clinics, Schools, Hospitals and, yes, Homes are now enjoyed by lower and middle class families today, all funded by NI loans, which, as promised, help modernize our society.

VAT, I am convinced, will do the same. It is designed to make the tax system of this country more equitable. You pay for VAT when you consume goods and services which brings into line many cash generating services of our economy who enjoy the greater benefits, but have little commitment to contribute to our development.

All governments around the world pay for its goods and services to better a country through taxes, and we all agree that in the Bahamas our present tax structure is not sufficient. We must pay down our debt, while at the same time provide the necessary funding to upgrade our airports, manage and protect our borders and provide essential equipment to police our communities. A more equitable, consistent tax regime will do just that. And, from all material I have read, VAT is the best solution to achieve this goal.

I am not listening to the merchants, who I remember not only opposed NI, but every progressive idea to move ordinary Bahamians forward. Everyone should agree that we must meet our debt obligations for to not agree would mean we wish our country to fail.

I support VAT and you should too.

Signed,

Ella B. Butler