TAX COLLECTION – The government said they expect to collect multiplied millions MORE in customs duties and Real Property Tax this year, claiming that the Department of Inland Revenue would be among the areas used to strengthen property tax collection measures. Well then why did the government cut both Customs and Inland Revenue by over a half-million dollars each in this budget? For Customs, the money was cut from its Management System and its computer systems and equipment, and a majority of Inland’s budget was cut from manpower. How are you going to collect more taxes through these agencies if you are cutting funding from both agencies, and in the areas the agencies need to collect the tax revenue in the first place?
BEC – BEC is supposed to be privatised in some form this year, yet there is no projected revenue listed from a full or partial privatisation of BEC in this year’s budget. Why is that? If you are privatising all or a portion of a government-owned corporation, you should be getting money/revenue from that transaction. Based on the budget, no money/revenue is projected.
NO NEW SCHOOLS – Last year, $5.5 million was budgeted for the construction of BRAND NEW primary and secondary schools. This is separate from money budgeted to add classrooms to existing schools. WHERE ARE THE NEW SCHOOLS FOR THAT $5.5 MILLION? Now $5 million has been budgeted this time around for the same thing.
ZERO DOLLARS EXTRA FOR SOCIAL SAFETY NET – Last year, the government said it would set aside $30 million as a “social safety net” for the added poverty they expected to create due to VAT. VAT was originally going to begin July 1 at 15%. Since it is now going to run for only half the fiscal year (starting January) at half the rate (7.5%), you might expect them to cut that $30 million for poverty in half to $15 million, right? Well, guess how much extra money has been added to Social Services’ Social Safety Net line item? ZERO DOLLARS. So much for giving more help to the poor who will hurt much more once VAT comes in.
ABACO & GRAND BAHAMA: NO PROJECTS FOR MONEY – Last year, $17 million was budgeted to construct the North Abaco Port, Little Abaco Bridge and the Fishing Hole Road Bridge in Freeport. Abaco and Grand Bahama, do you have any of those projects? WHERE ARE THE PORT & TWO BRIDGES FOR THAT $17 MILLION? Now $27 million is budgeted this time around for those same projects.
LARGE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BUDGET CUTS – Once again, Local Government districts are seeing significant budget cuts, the largest single district budget cut being Marsh Harbour at over $127 thousand. Abaco is the island with the largest overall cut of over $213 thousand, followed by Eleuthera at over $206 thousand and Andros at over $166 thousand.
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