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
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
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
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
#1 – As of September 1, we will be restricted from bringing in a vehicle or motorcycle that is 10 years of age or older. This means it is going to cost you more to buy a used car, since the newer the car, the more money the car may cost. A 10 YEAR OLD CAR OR OLDER CAN BE IN PERFECTLY GOOD & SAFE CONDITION. Why prohibit its importation? Fewer people are going to be able to afford a used car because of this, and this is also going to push people to end up going into debt taking out loans to dealerships, etc to buy cars they cannot afford. No distinction in the new Bill was made for antique cars either. Now, the Bill says the Minister for Customs (which is the Minister of Finance) can give permission for you to bring in a vehicle 10 years or older if he wants to. WHY GIVE THE MINISTER THE SOLE POWER TO PICK AND CHOOSE WHO GETS TO BRING IN VEHICLES 10 YEARS OR OLDER? The rule should be the same across the board for everyone, not set where some people can get a “yes” while others can get a “no” based on the Minister’s say so. Any exceptions to the 10-year rule should be spelled out in the law so that everyone is subject to the same criteria in law. These kinds of Ministerial discretion clauses are what encourage corruption, cronyism and victimization and keep people dependent on a politician for their success or failure. Continue reading
Small businesses, which are the drivers of our country’s economy but have been struggling in recent years, will have more fees added to their operational costs as of July 1 in the new 2015/2016 Budget. When businesses have to pay more, THEN WE END UP HAVING TO PAY MORE FOR GOODS & SERVICES. And the harder it is for businesses to stay afloat, the more likely they are to close their doors or lay off staff. NEW FUEL & CUSTOMS FEES are also coming our way. HERE ARE THE DETAILS: Continue reading
Sections (Heads) 26 and 27 of the Recurrent Expenditure Bill in the National Budget that show our national debt and our debt payments are now gone from the 2015/2016 Budget. This means the Parliament and the public can no longer see what our various outstanding loans/debts are, how much money the government is paying on each of those loans/debts, and where existing or new loans/debts are from and are coming from. Head 26 is Public Debt Servicing Interest (meaning interest payments on our debts) and Head 27 is Public Debt Servicing Redemption (meaning loan repayments). Now that the government is taking millions in VAT money from us, it has stripped the nation of the ability to see whether a dollar of that money is going toward our national debt. Here is a link to what those standard Public Debt Documents of the Budget look like (documents from 2014 Budget). Continue reading