NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Free National Movement (FNM) leader Michael Pintard has accused the the Davis administration of breaking the law on its decision to eliminate tariffs on pleasure craft outside of parliamentary approval.
The change was not reflected in the recent fiscal year.
However, Financial Secretary Simon Wilson, in a letter dated June 23, 2022, told Bahamian Customs Department officials that the removal of the 10% rate of duty on pleasure craft was unintentionally left out of the budget sheet, but should be recognized and implemented by them. .
Wilson said: “I am instructed to advise that as a result of the change in the rate of duty on pleasure craft inadvertently omitted from the budget action sheet, the Customs Department is now responsible for dealing with the following tariff heading duty-free until the subsequent amendment to the Tariff Law is made in the next fiscal year.
“As pleasure craft which are currently subject to a 10% rate of duty in Chapter 89 of the Tariff Act under tariff heading ‘8903’, they are now approved for a duty-free rate of duty. The change is effective immediately.
Pintard said in a statement: “The opposition remains stunned that the government has not yet rescinded and rescinded its illegal instructions to the Customs Department to allow the duty-free importation of pleasure craft and yachts out of parliamentary approval.
“There is absolutely no reason for the government to continue breaking the law in this way.
“They know that the sad excuses offered by the Prime Minister have no merit.
“They are required to declare legal authority to waive rights by memorandum.”
Pintard continued, “The government gave illegal instructions to change the tariff without the approval of Parliament or an order from the Governor General.
“We are satisfied that the government has failed to follow the prescribed steps to change tariffs or provide ‘revenue protection’.
‘It’s shameful – especially since they’re doing it illegally while refusing to remove VAT on essentials like medicine, bread baskets and baby supplies.’
Prime Minister Philip Davis defended the government’s actions, noting that the move was part of its efforts to develop the country’s blue economy.
Davis said the tax elimination was not done in secret and that he would investigate why it was omitted during the budget exercise.