Between January of 2015 and June of 2018, the government says it expects to collect almost $2 BILLION FROM US IN VAT. TWO BILLION DOLLARS FROM OUR POCKETS TO THE TREASURY. Remember, we were originally told that our VAT money would be used to cut into our debt levels.
So then why does the government’s Budget say that GOVERNMENT DEBT IS GOING TO INCREASE EACH YEAR DURING THAT PERIOD, AND THE IMF NOW SAYS DEBT TO GDP WILL ALSO INCREASE FOR THIS YEAR AND NEXT YEAR? Continue reading
A reported $12 million was spent on Carnival this year. During the Carnival firestorm, government officials claimed they would increase their funding to our annual Junkanoo Festival. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH EXTRA MONEY WAS PUT IN THE NEW BUDGET FOR THE NATIONAL JUNKANOO FESTIVAL? ZERO EXTRA DOLLARS. That’s right. ZERO EXTRA DOLLARS. Carnival gets $12 million. Junkanoo, which has been getting $1.5 million for YEARS, is still stuck on that same $1.5 million beat, no increase, no change. (Budget Head 47, Block 90, Line Item #911219)
So much for expanding “our” culture.
I wrote about this last year as well. The government plans to spend an extra $254 MILLION on Recurrent Account in 2015/2016. Last year they spent $137 MILLION extra. And how much of that extra money in grants did any of our nation’s youth-based organisation’s get? ZERO EXTRA DOLLARS BOTH THIS YEAR & LAST YEAR. With combined additional spending of ALMOST $400 MILLION in these two Budget years, you mean to tell me that these national groups that figure so positively and prominently in the development of our nation’s young people could not get ANY of that EXTRA spending? And the Self Starter Program that was established in the previous term to help young people start their own businesses, was CUT BY 83% THIS NEW BUDGET YEAR. Continue reading
When the Speaker of the House put forward his wholly bogus ruling weeks ago about the Public Accounts Committee (a ruling the government pushed for), government MPs sat there with glee even though that ruling they pushed for had ZERO BASIS in Rules or Law. They were happy because it favored their agenda to stop Urban Renewal from being investigated. Now that the Speaker has actually followed the Rules & Procedures of the House this time in permitting Fort Charlotte MP Andre Rollins to speak in last week’s Budget debate in Parliament, government MPs are whining and moaning to the media claiming he did not follow the Rules. Continue reading
Now we see why the Public Debt Documents (Heads 26 and 27) of the 2015/2016 Budget were stripped from the Bahamian people’s Budget. Some of that missing Debt Payment information has remarkably turned up. In 2014/2015, just over $259 MILLION was budgeted to be paid toward our public debt interest payments (formerly Head 26). IN 2015/2016, ONLY JUST OVER $266 MILLION HAS BEEN BUDGETED FOR THOSE DEBT PAYMENTS – JUST $7 MILLION MORE. Now. The government claims that between January 1 and June 30 of this year it would have already collected over $150 MILLION of our VAT dollars. For the 2015/2016 Budget, it says it expects to collect another $544 MILLION. WHY ONLY BUDGET $7 MILLION EXTRA TOWARD THESE DEBT PAYMENTS IN THE 2015/2016 BUDGET WHEN YOU CLAIM YOU WILL TAKE IN A STAGGERING $544 MILLION OF OUR MONEY IN VAT? THAT IS ONLY JUST OVER 1 (ONE) PERCENT OF OUR VAT MONEY GOING TOWARD THESE EXTRA DEBT PAYMENTS THIS BUDGET YEAR. Continue reading
Those of you who have been following my articles for the past 2-plus years would have been following both my reports on critical documents being stripped from the National Budget and my calls for those documents to be returned to the people’s Budget. Today (Wednesday), some of those documents were remarkably delivered to the Parliament; though done so when the 2015/2016 Budget Debate was scheduled to end and those documents WERE NOT TABLED – meaning they are not formally a part of the Budget legislation tabled, debated and voted on in Parliament. PARTIAL Personal Emoluments (Salary & Staffing) Documentation has remarkably turned up. The documentation shows the number of staff and their job title in each Ministry & Department. It does NOT however, show their job title salaries and categories as was listed in standard previous Personal Emoluments documentation. Continue reading
The most important legislation tabled in any given fiscal year is the National Budget. The Budget is the fiscal bible for how the public’s money is to be spent to run the country. The Budget debate is the only time in the year when Ministers account to the public for their work and activities in their portfolios. The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance was absent for almost all of the 2015/2016 Budget Debate and hence abdicated his core responsibilities to the nation to be present and active in this debate on his own government’s Budget. The Minister responsible for Public Works, Urban Renewal, BEC, BAMSI, etc (Min. Brave Davis) chose not to make his contribution and hence abdicated his responsibility in this debate to account to the nation on his portfolios. The Minister responsible for our Law Enforcement Officers and National Security (Min. BJ Nottage) also chose not to make his contribution and hence abdicated his responsibility in this debate to account to the nation on his portfolios. THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE AND THE DEBATE PROCESS WERE ROBBED, VIOLATED & DISRESPECTED IN THIS 2015/2016 BUDGET DEBATE.
By now, you may have been following the reporting regarding upcoming changes to group insurance coverage for some categories of government workers. The 2015/2016 Budget (Head 5, Block 50) shows that the allocation for Health Insurance premiums for categories of public officers has been cut in half, down to just over $25 million from the over $51 million allocated in 2014.
So, today (Tuesday) the Minister for Labour and National Insurance decided to say that the $25-plus million allocation for health insurance for public officers this year is only $8 MILLION LESS THAN IT WAS LAST YEAR, DUE TO SOME SURPLUSES THEIR GROUP INSURANCE POLICIES HAVE ACCUMULATED.
WRONG Continue reading
This news story is from a demonstration staged Monday by auto-body repairmen in Freeport. The gathering is against planned changes to vehicle import laws in the country. QUESTION – #1 – why do Bahamians need to seek a permit (permission) from any official to PEACEFULLY ASSEMBLE in this country when the Constitution guarantees the right to peaceful assembly (Articles 15 and 24)? The Constitution says NO LAW shall be made that restricts one’s freedom to peacefully assemble, once that assembly is not violating the rights of others and is not a threat to national security, public safety & health, etc. Article 23 grants Freedom of Expression. So what happens if the Force decides to refuse you permission to gather peacefully? Are you then not supposed to peacefully assemble and express your opinions and ideas in your own country and if so, you will face arrest and charges before a Court? WE NEED TO LOOK AT CURRENT LAWS ON THE BOOKS TO SEE THE EXTENT TO WHICH THEY RESTRICT OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND EXPRESSION PER ARTICLES 15, 24 and 23. Such laws would be unconstitutional if/where they do so.
The Health Insurance Block of the new Budget has been cut by half. THE GOVERNMENT MUST ANNOUNCE WHICH CATEGORIES OF WORKERS UNDER THIS BLOCK WILL SEE CHANGES TO THEIR GROUP HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS THIS BUDGET YEAR. In The Budget, Insurance for Law Enforcement Officers (all uniformed branches) (line item 575200) used to be listed under Head 5, Block 50 – Department of Public Service. Nurses are also grouped into that line item. Since the government has removed all Block line items from the entire Budget, you can no longer see the line items for the Insurance Premiums for any Public Service grouping anymore. But Block 50 itself (the Insurance Block) has been CUT BY HALF FOR THE 2015/2016 BUDGET, WITH OVER $25 MILLION BEING CUT. Block 50 contains the Health Insurance Premiums Allocation for Law Enforcement Officers, Nurses, Overseas Personnel, Teachers, Doctors, the Gaming Board and Bahamas Information Services (BIS). Last year, Block 50 was allocated just over $51 million – over $33 million of which was for the Law Enforcement and Nurses’ Insurance Premiums. Since Block 50 now only has just over $25 million allocated when it had over $51 million last year, that clearly means health insurance will be changed this Budget year for some categories of government employees under Block 50. THIS IS THE TYPE OF REASON THAT THE GOVERNMENT STRIPPED THE BUDGET OF THESE LINE ITEMS – SO THAT PARLIAMENT & THE PUBLIC WOULD NOT READILY PICK UP ON WHAT THEY ARE DOING IN EACH MINISTRY & DEPARTMENT. Continue reading