Thank you. I didn’t write about VAT before because I couldn’t figure it out. I had to go back to the beginning to tell how we got where we are.
Forty years ago the new hope government took over this country that was the envy of the New World. The government had no bills, new hotels on the drawing board, a treasury full of money, confirmed hotel bookings up to and over 25 years in the future, clean streets, clean yards, painted government buildings, two murders a year, sometimes less, friendly people, everybody wanted to work hard, had a job, some people had two, and a good reputation.
We had amongst us the wealthy, the rich, the upper class, the middle class, the lower class and the poor. We all went to church and other public functions together. But a movement was under foot in the world. Things were about to change. People all over the world wanted a bigger piece of the pie. We were no different. It was a great chance for people like Martian Luther King Jr. and others to take advantage of this opportunity to raise up their people to a higher standard. Other deprived people, white and brown, joined the movement. The struggle had started. No one person was responsible for the success of the movement. Most of the freedoms and opportunities that were held from us were won and most of us went on to govern ourselves. Some did good, some not so good; you judge.
My questions are: With the exception of us ruling ourselves, are we better off in the world? Are we respected for our honesty and good judgment? And most of all, are we truly independent or do we still answer to the same or some other master? We may not now be facing this thing called VAT had we abolished all the bad things about the colonial government and had kept the way they did business. After all, they were successful in that area. So why did we change it? The new government refused to pay the piper like the Bay Street Boys did. They chose instead to divide the piper’s share among a handpicked few. Maybe if the new government, with no experience with how things are run in the world, had kept on a few of the old guard they may have told them what would happen if they didn’t secure the piper’s share. Instead, we chased all of the old boys away.
Thus the funds for the other partners never got their share; but now another change is coming, and it’s paying time. The only tried and proven way for these people to get their money is through VAT. This system is not designed to look good for the population. It was created to retrieve money owed to them from delinquent governments like ours.
Remember the statement from our first prime minister when he said that he will borrow as long as they lend. Well, we did. Now it is time to pay and guess who is going to pay the piper for the riches our Bahamians enjoy? You guessed it. There is no free lunch, or land or home or school or vacation, nothing is free. Somewhere down the line, whoever you are out there, you or your children are going to pay.
Personally, I now realize that for the future government to run this country it is going to have to privatize most of our public facilities so it can start to make money to run the country – like the government is making more money from BTC by owning 49 percent than it did when it thought it owned 100 percent. We will have a surplus of money once more in the treasury when we privatize the police, the hospital, the prison, the airline, BEC, water and sewerage and other things belonging to government. I would like to see all these places being run professionally and efficiently – preferably by Bahamians.
Hopefully by then Bahamians will have learned how to give an honest day’s work for a well-deserved salary. The milk cow has dried up. Now the real work, starting out with a clean sheet, can begin for a new Bahamas. VAT is coming like hell or high water. Make up your mind. You have to live with it the rest of your life. Your leaders are confused because they don’t know how to run a country on even honest rules.