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February 07, 2007

Comments

EB Christen

Issues based politics is what we need - so far, neither party has really made any noise about the issues in a constructive manner. Issues are good, but a REAL VISION would be nice too. This country needs a direction and goals for achieving that aim. We should say, in 10 years, we want to be xyz and here is how we are going to make it happen. And that list of goals shouldn't be pie in the sky promises but serious measures that the government (working close with private sector) will look to put in place.

The biggest issue for the future is education, as you aptly pointed out. Bahamians need to be competitive in their own labour market. They need to understand that every Bahamian firm wants to hire Bahamians, but there is a serious derth of qualified, motivated and serious people. Bahamian businesses can't survive hiring unqualified people - perhaps government can, but that isn't the same thing. Lots of adults that are mentally still 'kids' are running around saying, 'I want a job', but really just looking for pay checks - not jobs.

It is a serious problem. Basic skills: reading, writing, simple arithmetic (without a calculator), verbal communication, politeness, basic phone courtesy - these alone are challenges. Forget computer skills or anything else that businesses are looking for! Knowing how to turn on a computer and move a mouse doesn't mean you know how to 'use' a computer.

The education system is failing students. Motivated and interested students need to be taken into schools and programs that can push them further, while 'bad apple' students need to be addressed separately. The country needs to focus on forming and maintaining a critical mass of skilled labour that can grow and expand the country and thus strengthen the middle class here.

It really is the question that will decide the Bahamas fate in the 21st century - the time for action on this is now - the next government - whoever they are - needs to be serious. No more jokers in parliament reading for hours and wasting the people's time. Watching the parliament channel is laughable - every Bahamian should watch, just to see the idiocy that passes for 'parliamentary debate' on issues. WAKE UP BAHAMAS!

Disband/sell off wasteful government corporations like ZNS, BahamasAir, BEC, BTC and all the others and further push back the heavy hand of government in this country. What about duty reform? Why can't Bahamians buy IPOD's in Nassau rather than smuggling them in from the USA? The duty is prohibitively high. With duty reform, competitiveness with US retailers would be the aim. The increased volume in small business openings would compensate for the lower return per item brought in, thus ensuring that government revenues were stable in the long term.

All of this stuff needs to be on the table, but instead we have 'he said, she said' arguments about residency permits for celebrities, scuffles in parliament and ridiculous discussions about sovereignty. These aren't issues! They are concerns, but they shouldn't be the dominant ones - we have bigger structural fish to fry.

drew Roberts

"Disband/sell off wasteful government corporations like ZNS, BahamasAir, BEC, BTC and all the others"

Well I am with you except for water and sewerage I think. However, it will not do us much good unless we also free up the market to real competition. Get rid of the monopoly laws.

"What about duty reform?"

Right now, a merchant pays CIF (Cost, Insurance, Freight) and then duty on that total, then stamp tax on that total.

The traveller pays cost, and duty. No Insurance, no freight. And no stamp tax on the total.

Now, if things worked the way we here imagine they should, the merchant would be buying wholesale and the traveller would be buying retail. Since we would expect wholesale prices to be less than retail, the merchant might be able to compete after paying more percentage wise and having to pay his costs after landing and make a profit of some sort. (This really needs to be more than he could earn on his investment/equity if he were to put it on fixed deposit or loan it out on a secure mortgage.

All well and good. But compared to our merchants' small buying power, the US merchants can often sell at retail for less than the factories or distributors sell to our merchants at wholesale.

It is no wonder that our merchants have trouble competing price wise with the US.

Here is a thought which may not be good, but it may pay to discuss it for what we can learn from the discussion...

Make all duty 10% for merchants and 20% for individuals. Make individuals pay stamp tax, not merchants. Simple. no argumetns over which duty heading goods come under.

Here is an alternative to consider if we need to do away with duty.

No one but approved wholesalers can import. Approved wholesalers cannot reatail. Travellers payt duty at 10%.

all the best,

drew

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