January 27, 2020

Bahamas PM uses Haiti unrest to explain VAT hike

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A street vendor walks past burning tires set up by anti-government protesters during a general strike in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, July 9, 2018. A nationwide, general strike and protest was called to demand the resignation of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise after his government agreed to reduce subsidies for fuel as part of an assistance package with the . The fuel hike was suspended after widespread, violent protests broke out on Friday and over the weekend. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

By Travis Cartwright-Carroll Nassau Guardian From Caribbean News Now

NASSAU, Bahamas — As he defended his administration’s increase in value-added tax () from 7.5 percent to 12 percent, Bahamas Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis pointed to recent riots in Haiti over a 50 percent increase in fuel prices mandated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and said he will not allow such a thing to occur in The Bahamas.

Minnis was speaking on Saturday on the 2018/2019 budget.

“So, you tell me,” he asked, “if you were given the choice of handing your country over to a foreign entity where somebody over the waters whom you have never seen or don’t know, would you hand it over to them or would you prefer to run your country yourselves? Which would you prefer?

“Look at Haiti. Haiti was told that they must increase gas prices by 50 percent by some foreign entity and you saw what happened.

“That’s the same thing they could do to you, tell you that your gas prices must go up 50 percent. We do not and will not allow that to happen. Not in our country.”

On July 6, riots broke out in Haiti over the announcement of a plan to end fuel subsidies, which could have driven the price up by 50 percent.

Bahamasair, along with airlines from the US, suspended flights into the country during the unrest.

According to the , the IMF required Haiti to “enact a series of economic reforms in exchange for $96 million”.

Following the riots, Haiti’s prime minister resigned.

Former minister of state for finance, , called the Minnis administration’s defence of the VAT increase “scare tactics”.

“Now the prime minister and minister of finance are using these scare tactics saying, ‘We don’t want to be like this other country and we don’t to be like that’.

“Of course we don’t, but that does not mean we take drastic action that hurts our people. The IMF did not make them do anything. The IMF can only offer you advice.”

IMAGE: A street vendor walks past burning tires set up by anti-government protesters during a general strike in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, July 9, 2018. A nationwide, general strike and protest was called to demand the resignation of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise after his government agreed to reduce subsidies for fuel as part of an assistance package with the IMF. The fuel hike was suspended after widespread, violent protests broke out on Friday and over the weekend. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

For more on this story go to: https://wp.caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/07/16/bahamas-pm-uses-haiti-unrest-to-explain-vat%E2%80%88hike/

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