Column: ‘This Is The Real Impact Of The Budget’

March 15, 2019

[Opinion column written by Shadow Minister of National Security Ben Smith]

Bermuda has a growing proportion of the population close to being underwater in this economy and with increases in the cost of living coupled with more taxes, I fear that some will find themselves sinking.

The increase in land tax is one area of concern. Those with the two lowest bands of ARV can now look forward to a flat tax of $300. There was much debate around the higher bands of ARV and the higher tax for those brackets, but let’s not forget those who are already struggling who paid much less than $300 and who now face this increase.

Some people may see the increase as small, but when you are struggling to pay day-to-day bills and put food on the table, no increase in tax is small. One reason given for imposing the $300 flat rate was the cost to collect this tax. But wouldn’t it make more sense to waive the tax at this level to alleviate the cost of collecting while also providing relief for the struggling? It would also mean more time to focus on collecting the bigger amounts owed.

The second area of concern is charging a fee on all credit card payment for Government fees.

The same person who is struggling to cover bills may well be surviving by using their credit card to pay them, so using that card to pay Government fees just became more expensive.

In the Budget debate it was said that big companies and wealthy people have been using their cards and collecting airmiles while the Government pays the credit card fees – by the way, these are the same fees the retail sector, which has seen nine consecutive falls in sales volume – has to eat for the convenience of customers using cards.

If the focus was on the abusers, why hit the struggling Bermudian with the same fee? Couldn’t Government look at a threshold for payment via credit card which allows the lower end users to use their cards without having the added fee imposed on to them? Not doing so only penalizes the less affluent.

The third area of concern is the Sugar Tax.

The theory of reducing the consumption of sugar so that we can have a healthier community is sound, but is the implementation of a Sugar Tax to control the purchase of the drug sugar the answer?

We have an epidemic of diabetes – with resulting amputations – that we must address, but the problem is larger than sugar consumption. The overall diet in Bermuda has to be addressed, however the healthy choices are expensive and there has been very little focus on reducing the cost of healthier food.

I worry that the Sugar Tax will follow the path of the so-called sin taxes – on alcohol and tobacco. Every year these taxes go up and most people, unfortunately, seem to pay very little attention and continue to purchase them. I fear the same will happen with things like candy, cookies and cakes – the cost will be high but their consumption will continue and the cost of groceries will increase, adversely affecting those less well off.

Increasing tax on the struggling can only increase the amount of people that are struggling and make it harder for those who are already struggling to survive. This is the real impact of this Budget.

- Ben Smith


20 Most Recent Opinion Columns

Opinion columns reflect the views of the writer, and not those of Bernews Ltd. To submit an Opinion Column/Letter to the Editor, please email Bernews welcomes submissions, and while there are no length restrictions, all columns must be signed by the writer’s real name.

click here Bermuda 2019 budget

Read More About

Category: All, News

Comments (20)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. 2 Bermudas says:

    Zzzzzzzzz… Budget doesn’t tackle the deficit in any real way and doesn’t address the elephant in the room which is a civil service that’s too expensive!!

    • ROBERT STEWART says:

      You are absolutely right. These are the 2 major issues, which the budget process ignores.

      Short term thinking is the hallmark of this government.

  2. Ben did not even canvas his constituency. He got in simply because he was oba. That is the FULL extent of Ben Smith’s care and concern about C31.
    Who needs Ben??

    • DeOnion says:

      silliest comment award – given the content of this article, he clearly cares – and understands the real impact of the budget. I suggest you think before you write.

    • Diana Lee says:

      He certainly did canvas, may want to get your facts straight.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        Betty doesn’t care about truths or facts , only lies based on repeated hyperbole .

    • Stephen Thomson says:

      That is simply not true. I personally canvassed with Ben on many nights. He was out canvassing with a rota of supporters virtually every night of the week after a lkng day of work and coaching our athletes. Ben Smith worked hard to hear the concerns of his constituents and his efforts paid off.
      Get your facts straight before throwing stones.

    • question says:

      I can’t recall the last time a PLP candidate has come to my house. Last time they sent a stand-in, a surrogate, who couldn’t handle a simple discussion.

      • truthertz says:

        Ben came to my house as well.

        I watched the PLP representatives put a flyer in my mailbox whilst I was in the yard!

  3. Wake up ben says:

    He thinks the obaUBP really respects him. Wow these lot never learn.

    • CHRIS says:

      it is YOU lot who will never learn. you think the Bermuda owes you. newsflash: nobody owes you anything! you need to earn it.

  4. kevin says:

    Straightforward is again trying to get the taste of leather out of his mouth there is a very simple statement that explains comments such as his
    There isn’t a cure for stupid, you can’t blame it on any hereditary paths , you can’t even blame it on their diets .. it takes years of practice to achieve straightforwards level
    The plp budget is bermudas quicksand …..they will drag us down to a new 4th world level
    And here is one for you if I was Ben I wouldn’t have seen you either and talked with folks who can think for themselves

  5. Rotten Onion says:

    @straightforward Ben Smith came to my house twice to talk and get me off the fence

  6. Common sense says:

    Ben came to my house; the PLP representative did not!

  7. Incidental information ,

    Trash pick up is part of land tax purposes…
    Public transportation is part of land tax purposes…
    Both are reduced.
    So why more land tax…seems to me a reduction is in order.
    Not the other way around.

  8. Joe Bloggs says:

    I very much doubt that big companies are paying land tax with credit cards. Certainly my employer doesn’t. It muddies the audit trail. I find it more likely that this Government is “ nickel and diving” the local population and telling the voters that it is engaging in tax reform while doing very little in reality.

    This is about sound bites, nothing more.

  9. Ijs says:

    Better grow your own food for when the global economic collapse comes . Lol

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Where ? Everyhing’s covered in condos and tarmac . And a few pissy flowerpots and 2×4 planting boxes aren’t going to cut it .

      • Ringmaster says:

        Global economic collapse? It’s more likely going to be a local economic collapse.

  10. fools says:

    I never have seen him(what is his name again) either