Budget Tales – Part 1

OURMONEYSPENDING INCREASE – The government says it plans to reduce our now record debt to GDP ratio (60.9%) and rein in spending – but the 2014 budget says the government actually plans to spend $86 MILLION MORE on Recurrent Account in this upcoming budget year. The Recurrent Account is what pays things like salaries, operational expenses, travel, utilities, etc. And while the government all year long has boasted of major recurrent spending cuts it has carried out, the 2014 budget’s tables show that government spending only decreased on paper by $17 million in 2013/2014, which is not even near a 1% decrease in overall budgeted spending. Continue reading

The Government’s VAT Announcement

VATINFOWell, the Prime Minister announced what those of you who read me would already know I have said regarding VAT. Instead of getting VAT in at 15% from the start with many key areas being exempted, there will be a slight delay in VAT, and now it will be charged on most of the items & areas Bahamians were initially told would not attract VAT. And then after VAT is introduced next year at 7.5%, the rate will be increased later on (as it always is by every single country that ever implements VAT). Our debt to GDP ratio along with a likely or potential credit downgrade will be among the reasons given for that initial 7.5% VAT rate needing to be later increased. That’s how this will play out. Now wait and see the areas the government will tell you must now attract VAT as of January – it will be almost all of the areas they first told you would be exempt from VAT, in the hopes that those previously announced exemptions would have helped them to be able to sell VAT to you easier in the beginning. THE “DECREASED VAT” RATE IS NOT THE “GOOD” IT APPEARS TO BE. THE GOV’T DIDN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING, IT WILL SIMPLY ACHIEVE IT AND THE IMF’S ORIGINAL OBJECTIVES BY THE STAGGERED PROCESS I JUST OUTLINED. Continue reading

Know Your Rights Bahamas – Freedom Of Speech

FACTSBahamas, there is absolutely nothing illegal about or wrong with you voicing your dissent against the government of the day and its policies, no matter which government is in power. Dissent (which is simply stating your opposing views) is not the same as sedition or treason. Treason in Bahamian law is aiding a foreign government/grouping in their overthrow and/or takeover of The Bahamas government. Sedition is activities that incite unlawful civil unrest or violence against the government. So don’t let any government or police official try to confuse or scare you on these critical differences to make you think any opposing view you state or have about the government is treasonous and hence, illegal. You have a right to dissent – and in fact, the right to dissent should be given explicit entrenched Constitutional protection as a category of our current Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression. What you must be very watchful of though, is the government or police trying to label your dissent as sedition or treason so as to try to criminalize your free speech and hence strip you of your rights to free speech. If they do, that must be fought against by all Bahamians.  Continue reading

Questions For The Opposition

HOAIt is conventional Parliamentary practice for the government of the day to give the Opposition what we call “Opposition Day” in Parliament, which is a House Sitting traditionally every third Wednesday of the month that is set aside for the Opposition to put questions to the government on matters in the country. The government has now been in office for two years, and being the undemocratic grouping they are, such a Sitting has not yet been given by them. Why hasn’t the Opposition demanded that it be given its monthly/regular Sittings on behalf of the Bahamian people to call the government to account about the business of the country? If you as Opposition will not demand your House Sittings for the country’s business, who will? The relatively small size of an Opposition in Parliament doesn’t automatically diminish its potential impact. It is about leadership and working in unity to accomplish the critical agenda of checking the government. Unity, laced with diligence and skill, is the universal power booster no matter the relatively small size. Continue reading

Regarding The Government’s Unlawful National Intelligence Agency (NIA)

INVESTIGATENational Intelligence Agency (NIA) Should Cease Operations Until It Becomes a Lawful Entity

Over one year ago last February, I publicly raised the matter of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) via a previous weekly national newspaper column. I raised this matter because I knew the Agency had been established without the necessary legislation, and that $72,000 of public funds was allocated in the new government’s first fiscal Budget (2012/2013) as the annual salary for a Director of a surveillance Agency the country knew little to nothing about. In their next Budget (2013/2014), the “Director NIA” line item was notably removed from the section of the National Security Ministry’s Budget that covers salaries, and a new recurrent budget line item called “National Intelligence Agency” was created under the “Grants, Fixed Charges & Special Financial Transactions” block of National Security’s Budget – with an unexplained increase in allocation to $100,000. The NIA currently falls directly under the Ministry of National Security and not the Royal Bahamas Police Force, which suggests that the Agency’s Director answers to a politician and not the Commissioner of Police like the Force’s security, surveillance and intelligence branch (SIB) does – a major red flag regarding this secret surveillance Agency. The Police Force already carries out surveillance and intelligence gathering via SIB. What kind of monitoring of Bahamians could a government Minister(s) possibly want or need that SIB is not already legally mandated to do? Continue reading

The Gov’t Has No Legal Authority To Put Youngsters In Jail As “Shock Treatment” & The Gov’t Is Not The Head Of Your Household

WRONGWAYBahamas, I have cautioned again and again not to allow any government to either prick your emotions or use the distress of social ills to get you to support them doing things they have no legal right to do. Minister BJ Nottage said the government plans to detain troublesome youngsters in jail cells as “shock treatment” to teach them lessons about their behavior. The government does not have the legal authority to do such a thing. We are allowing our frustrations about wayward youth (which we as parents hold most to all the responsibility for) to cause us to throw our support behind the government taking yet another step in violating our rights. The government has no lawful authority to detain citizens in jail cells in this country just because they feel like doing so. This is another example of the government carrying out police-state actions under the guise of “fighting crime”, taking your rights from you and getting you to cheer them on while doing so. An action doesn’t automatically become legal just because it is the government that is doing it. Continue reading

When A Person Dies While In The Custody Of Or At The Hands Of The State & Its Agents

ACCOUNTABILITYFor the benefit of the public, whenever a person dies either while in the custody of the State and its agencies, or dies during actions carried out by agents of the State (example: police-involved shootings), The law requires that a Coroner’s Inquest be held to determine how the death occurred and whether all connected actions by the State and/or its agents were legal. We have numerous honest, brave, properly trained and law-abiding police officers and we should always give them our full support. We, though, also have some crooked and procedurally sloppy officers. What must always happen in a democracy, is that we ensure that no life is unlawfully taken by the State or its agents, and that if a life is unlawfully taken, those responsible are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Continue reading

The Bahamas’ Sickest Sickness

GROWUPBAHAMASWhere politics has so poisoned the minds and souls of so many Bahamians, we don’t see right and wrong as right and wrong – we only see something as right or wrong depending on who it is done to or who is involved. If we support the people involved, then what they do is right in our eyes no matter what. If we don’t support the people involved, then whatever wrongdoing done to them is “good for them.” As long as the Party or politician we support does something, then it is right to us – even when it is clearly, morally, ethically and lawfully wrong or inhumane. And as long as the Party or politician we do not support does something, then it is wrong to us – even when it is clearly, morally, ethically and lawfully right or fully humane. And this is true of supporters of all political Parties – no group of supporters is exempt, as this happens both between Parties as well as within Parties. Continue reading

Are These “VAT Consultants” Really Just Consultants?

VATINFOMany Bahamians – most regrettably the Bahamian media – are not seeing what is happening here with the government’s “VAT Consultants” matter. If our government had originally suggested there be almost no VAT exemptions, and that VAT be applied to ALL FOOD ITEMS, ALL SERVICES EXCEPT RENT & FINANCIAL SERVICES and ALL UTILITIES, the press would have been screaming bloody murder. Yet, two persons from New Zealand have suggested it, the government’s Junior Finance Minister now radically says the government is considering doing this and the media, as if in a trance, is reporting this as though this is not a major shift in the government’s position on what might be taxed under VAT. The consultants strongly pushed this suggestion to us through the media based on what they termed New Zealand’s “few exemptions, one LOW VAT rate” model. The Bahamian media shamefully doesn’t know though that New Zealand does NOT have a low VAT rate – ITS OWN VAT RATE IS NOW 15%. Continue reading