Government proposing a number of measures to generate additional revenue

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Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest presents the 2018/2019 Budget Communication in the House of Assembly, May 30, 2018. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Peter Turnquest holds the red briefcase with the 2018/2019 Budget Communication he would present in the House of Assembly today. He described the Budget as “landmark” and “transformative” in implementing the government’s policy agenda and securing core fiscal objectives. Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis is right of DPM Turnquest, with Cabinet Ministers and government officials, walking to the House of Assembly. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest said to facilitate revenue generating measures this Government Administration is proposing a number of procedures that are designed to generate additional revenue to the government.

“Specifically, we are increasing the taxation of gaming house activities through the introduction of a sliding scale of rates applied to taxable revenue, namely: up to $20 million, a rate of 20 per cent; between $20 million and $40 million, a rate of 25 per cent; between $40 million and $60 million, a rate of 30 per cent; between $60 million and $80 million, a rate of 35 per cent; between $80 million and $100 million, a rate of 40 per cent; and over $100 million, a rate of 50 per cent,” Deputy Prime Minister Turnquest said while presenting the 2018/2019 Budget Communication in the House of Assembly, Wednesday, May 30, 2018.

He said there will also be the taxation of gaming patrons through a five percent stamp tax to be levied on both deposits made by patrons at the gaming houses and any non-online games/digital sales.

Mr. Turnquest said there will also be an increase in the various Immigration fees; introduction of new port fees; the Real Property Tax on foreign-owned vacant land to 2 percent of value, up from 1.5 percent; licensing fees on large commercial vehicles by $50 for Class B and Class C vehicles; and increases to police record fees, fingerprinting fees for casino employees, and Labour Certificate fees.

DPM Turnquest said, “Most substantially, the government is proposing an increase in the rate of Value Added Tax from the current 7.5 percent to 12 percent effective July 1st.”

He said, “Our government fully appreciates the sacrifice that the substantial increases in the VAT rate and other taxes will represent for our citizens.

“But as I have repeatedly said on record: this government was elected to do what is right for the welfare of the country and not to do what is politically expedient or politically popular.”

He said, “Facing the situation that we have, we could do as governments have done before – and simply present a misleading budget with under-budgeted allocations and hidden obligations. We could have kicked the can down the road and borrowed some more – delaying the inevitable day of reckoning.

“By playing this game we would have only made a bad situation worse. The country’s bond rating is at junk status.”

The DPM said the reason for that is because others before this Administration failed to act promptly and judiciously.

“But worse than the junk status, the penalty for inaction is a continued quickening crawl toward a fiscal point of no return.  And as we have seen, when countries hit crisis mode, the path to correction is extraordinarily hard and painful.”

He said in the Budget, the government could have pretended that this time it could collect all the uncollected and under-collected taxes in a few weeks and months.

“But, we recognize that while we must improve our tax yield on existing taxes immediately – which is why we are institutionalizing the Revenue Enhancement Unit – we understand that, to really improve our capacity to collect all of our taxes, is a multi-year project given the institutional weaknesses that prevail today.

“We will improve in this area.  We must.  And we will report on our progress regarding same,” DPM Turnquest said.

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