'Unfair' to tax web shops into losses

The Bahamas Government continues to show little to no concern for Bahamians’ livelihood and it continues to show signs that the new taxation structure is truly a guessing game with regards to the future of the gaming industry and the Bahamian economy, according to the Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA).

This was most evident in the recent comments of Marlon Johnson, the Financial Secretary, who spoke on Eye Witness News on Friday. Mr. Johnson seemed nonchalant and apathetic to the plight of gaming industry employees as he suggested that they, if laid off due to downsizing by gaming establishments, could simply apply to be maids at Baha-Mar resort.

“Well, the Government is always concerned when there’s a notion of job loss and the like, (but) fortunately this is a group of people moving into a growing economy where places like Bahamar are still looking for house keepers. You go online (and you’ll see) they’re still looking for space cleaners so the market can absorb the capacity,” Mr. Johnson said.

These “opportunities” as Mr. Johnson described them, may be best suited for the hundreds of other Bahamians currently unemployed or being forced to work 20-hour weeks at other resorts in New Providence and Paradise Island. As history has shown us, the hospitality industry in the Bahamas can be very fickle. The most opportune and wise decision would be to secure these jobs rather than have 2,000-plus unemployed Bahamians, unless the Government no longer has interest in maintaining jobs for a stable economy. If web shop employees prefer to work in the hospitality industry that should be their choice and not a last resort, per the advice of the Financial Secretary.

Furthermore, if the 2,000-plus Bahamians employed by the gaming industry were to lose their jobs due to an unavoidable downsizing there is no guarantee that they would be employed by Bahamar as housekeepers or employed at all. They, too, would have to compete with the hundreds of Bahamians already on Bahamar’s waiting list. Is this the remedy that the Bahamas Government is prescribing for the downfall of their new taxation law?

If the Bahamian economy was in fact growing, as Mr. Johnson suggested, then there would be no debate. In fact, there would be no VAT increase or no taxes at all. The Government is convinced that by raising taxes by up to 453% on gaming houses that the industry will survive and, in fact, remain “vibrant.” Once again, the Bahamas Government is spewing information without sharing any empirical data to support their claims and shows no sign of consulting with the BGOA.

Mr. Johnson’s comments only further poke holes into the Government’s miscalculated, misdirected taxation plans, making it more evident that this is an attack on the gaming industry to ensure its demise, which will only further hurt the economy that they seek to revive.




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