Remember those multimillion-dollar figures (which kept increasing by tens of millions every so often) that the government told the country it would collect in taxes from numbers houses if those numbers houses were legalized? Remember how the government went so far as to sing the country a lying lullaby about how tax revenue from numbers houses may make VAT unnecessary? Well today, the Prime Minister told the media what it should have always known, and what many of us in the country always knew and have publicly said. He said the current government DOES NOT KNOW HOW MUCH MONEY NUMBERS HOUSES TAKE IN, AND HAS NOT EVEN SET A TAX RATE YET FOR NUMBERS HOUSES THOUGH IT PLANS TO TABLE ITS GAMING BILL NEXT WEEK. So since the government does not know what the intake is for numbers houses and has not set a tax rate, it never knew how much it could possibly collect from them in taxes – though it kept spouting multimillion-dollar figures to you to make the legalization of numbers houses more attractive to you.
If the whole point of legalizing numbers houses was supposed to be creating a new and robust revenue stream for the Public Treasury, how come the fundamental aspect thereof, which is THE TAX SCHEDULE ITSELF, has not even been set yet? The Prime Minister claimed a “full external audit” of numbers houses must be done to determine what they take in before a tax rate can be set. So, Mr. Christie apparently sees us as stupid enough to believe that operations that are currently illegal and unregulated, can actually be audited. Why is a Gaming Bill legalizing numbers houses being tabled when the taxes those numbers houses are supposed to pay may not be in that Bill, with Mr. Christie using the word “transition” to describe the process of an eventual tax levy? Meantime, the Prime Minister did not hesitate to point out that numbers houses have never had to pay taxes on their intake before – citing that as part of the overall challenges of sorting out all the details of the government’s Gaming Bill. Translation? The country’s numbers bosses never had to pay taxes before, so don’t look for them to be interested in suddenly paying millions in taxes now. And then there are the critical issues of money laundering concerns that international agencies and banks have already made a matter of record. The government has yet to prove how those concerns have been resolved – and government Ministers saying of the matter “don’t worry, be happy”, is NOT a resolution. So, in this game of chance charade, who do you think will be the true winners Bahamas? Not the country for sure.
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