By Pierre Dupuch
Ah well, here we go again! The talk of the town is now saying things like: “Let’s even the playing field … tax them!”; “By 2019 we’ll be full members of the WTO” and “Let’s outsource it.”
“Let’s even the playing field, let’s tax them,” says one Minister when talking about Bahamians who rent their houses to visitors. Let’s see now, a person rents his house to a visitor and makes less than $100,000/year – is he now to pay taxes on his income? Does anyone else pay taxes on their income? The owner of the house has not been given any tax breaks like the Hotel Encouragement Act gives to hotels, but he must be taxed to “even the playing field?” I think that the Minister has this whole thing backwards.
A group or family vacationing in The Bahamas that rents a private residence is no competition to the Hotels. As a small group or family they can’t afford the hotel rooms necessary to accommodate them. If you tax the homeowner, the group won’t come here. They’ll vacation somewhere else. So in order to “level the playing field,” are we prepared to lose a whole segment of the tourist market that doesn’t want to stay in a hotel?
Is it not odd that every time a Bahamian wants to make a little extra money, the taxman is sent to his door?
Our leaders should think out of the box, and encourage Bahamians to enter the industry and expand it, rather than taxing and killing it!!
What people don’t realize is that taxing contracts the economy, while reducing taxes and offering other incentives grows the economy.
Here’s another phrase making headlines: “By 2019 we’ll be full members of the WTO.” That’s all they say? What are the benefits? There are none, for Bahamians anyway. The doors will be opened to any and everyone! Any business that makes money will be bought out by some outsider, and the profits will leave our shores. It looks as though the Economic Hit Man is here! Our grandchildren will have nothing; they will be hired by some outside company that has a branch here.
History is a funny thing. I remember way back when the PLP was selling the idea of Independence to the Bahamian people. They said that if we became independent we could borrow at will to build an infrastructure, and we would no longer be a slave colony of England.
Fast forward to today. We borrowed the money all right, all seven billion dollars of it, and we’re now broke! We’re no longer Colonial slaves of the English; we’re now slaves of the “Economic Hit Man” who, we understand, is calling the plays now. The government won’t be able to make a single decision without him!
Every time we can’t do it ourselves, we take it for granted that no other Bahamian can do it. So we “outsource it” and more money leaves the Country. Batelco was “outsourced” to an outside company! BEC was also “outsourced” to an outside company. Need I say more?
Let’s be frank about it. Most Bahamians have some kind of complex; everything North of The Bahamas is better. We can’t do it so we must give it away to some outsider.
Some years ago I visited Israel. Those people have got it right. We visited a tomato farm where the tomatoes were hanging from the vines like grapes. They said that the bees pollinated the tomatoes. One in our group commented that bees did not like to pollinate tomatoes.
“Ah,” said the Israeli guide, “you are correct, we found that bees don’t like to pollinate tomatoes so we created our own bees.” And so they did. They showed me their creation of bees that loved to pollinate tomatoes and did not sting!
You see folks, the phrase, “can’t do” is not in their dictionary. They see a problem, grapple with it and solve it in such a way as to help their people. They have turned a desert into green, productive pastures.
We visited another place in Israel where “cut flowers” were grown. They sent one of their people to England to find out how it was done. He returned to Israel, opened his own business and is now the biggest cut flower producer in the hemisphere!
What would we have done? Outsourced it of course.
After all, we think we’re dumb, but our only problem is that we don’t think out of the box.