VAT you saying, Bahamas? Nothing shabby

My daughter had to go to Nassau for a school football fest. Well, that was shabby. With her maternal relatives just minutes away, it would be home from home. She was housed with a host family. I took the chance to go and watch and be a support cast of one. Her mother had other fish to fry.

I nestled down with one of my daughter’s aunts, close to where the matches would be played, on the west end on New Providence.

The football was exciting and fun for most people over two days. Thanks to some flight rescheduling by Caribbean Airlines, we couldn’t return on Sunday. The school group had a free day and decided to add to local GDP with a day at Atlantis. Again, that was not shabby. Sunday. Water park. Children. Sounds like a good trifecta.

It was Super Bowl Sunday. I had no plans but had been told “something was happening”. My focus was on using the extra day productively: I wanted to play one of the very nice golf courses.

Lyford Cay golf course, 1st tee

Through some divine intervention, an English lady sponsored me for a guest pass at the exclusive Lyford Cay Club. Well, that is definitely not shabby at all. (She had her generosity repaid immediately because the club discover while verifying her status that they’d been overcharging her, so a nice refund would appear on her bill.)

After being issued my pass, I was given the dress code rules. They did not allow shabby and they did not include phones. No loud or soft conversations. I learned that I could play whenever I was ready and decided to treat part of my host family, my sister-in-law’s husband. We decided to head out soon after the Australian Open men’s tennis final was over, just around 8am.

Lyford Cay Clubhouse

The course was still quiet then and we were set to play leisurely; my partner hasn’t played much but he has a good idea what to do. We ran up charges on my account and went for our cart. We were met by a charming Bahamian, who explained the opening holes and reminded us about the rules. So, I had to remove my phone from my belt clip.:) No need to upset members.

A members/guest tournament was due to start on Monday, so I expected players would be coming to practice. (NOTE TO SELF: Find a member by next year, to get an invitation 😆) We were soon being pressed gently by a following group and I waved them through. We did need pressure and I wanted my partner to practice a little. I noticed, though, that one of the passing threesome was checking messages at a tee box. I looked around for a marshal to report the ‘naughty boy’.

Anyway, we played without any more pressure and enjoyed a sunny and breezy round of golf. I scored decently, considering it was my first outing, breaking 100, with a nice birdie on a long par 3, with a 12 foot putt. I’ll take that. Water features on the course and a few balls thought they were fish. But, they were shabby anyway. A few trees tried to mess things up, but we got the measure of them. We didn’t curse, like some of the members 😠

Just as we finished, my partner got a call from one of the cousins, who’d been in the golf plans. We’d gone out early and not been able to let him know or that I couldn’t get him access. The starter pointed to the phone and wagged his finger. “I’ll call you back.”

I went to the main clubhouse to settle my bill. It was not a shabby amount, but for fun there’s no price.

I noticed the VAT line on the bill and made a comment. The receptionist asked if VAT existed where I lived. I explained that Jamaica has its consumption tax and it’s double the rate in The Bahamas.

People are still getting used to the VAT thing. Trips abroad now take on a wry smile as duty free items get VAT slapped on them, or VAT is assessed on the value after duty has been added. Yes, people, your spending is getting squeezed. Most can’t understand notions like ‘landed value’. It seems that officials are not helping by not knowing the rules.

All good policies depend on public confidence in them. New taxes need this more than most legislation. It’s too early to know how measures such as VAT refunds are working. Registered companies have until end-February to file their monthly report for January. Refunds are due within one month of claim submission. Local papers have noted refund problems in Barbados, mentioning waits up to and over a year. That’s shabby.

Suspicions and distrust over the tax don’t need to be fed; they’re already sizeable.

Still, we made our little foreigner contribution to the budget, and that’s one good aspect of the change that many haven’t realised. When tourists spend more of it can flow to the treasury. It won’t make VAT busom buddy, but it won’t stay a shabby friend.