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Chamber chairman sounds death knell for changes to govt VAT agenda?

Published: Oct 04, 2013

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Dear Editor,

Chester Cooper, chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, informs that the coalition of business associations that is being formed is not out “to kill VAT” and he does “not believe in ‘soap box advocacy’”.

Changing the tax structure is a major decision by government and Cooper should be encouraging dialogue – not trying to control it by suggesting he doesn’t want the “government to get its back up” if they think the coalition opposes VAT.

If the member firms of the “coalition” allow the government and the chairman of the chamber to take this debate underground that will be the death knell for any possible changes to the VAT regime as has occurred with other coalitions on various issues over the past couple decades.

Cooper is responsible to those he represents, the members of the chamber and the proposed coalition, and as such is required to represent their views in both private and public exchanges.

The Bahamas is supposedly a mature democracy and informed debate is what keeps the politicians’ feet to the fire.  In addition, if the government cannot accept reasoned public debate about important issues at this stage of the country’s development, what does that say about the nation after 40 years of independence?

The taxpayer is being asked to foot the bill the country faces after decades of irresponsible public policies of borrowing and spending, and VAT has caused an economic maelstrom throughout the region.  The taxpayers of The Bahamas deserve no less than a frank discussion and commitments from government that it will do its part to reduce spending and eliminate waste to get its fiscal house in order.

– The Nassau Institute

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