By Lloyd Noel
The new Budget, which includes increased property tax and additional income tax for those persons earning above $3,000 per month, is now in effect for 2014 and soon we will be hearing how the increases are affecting those who will have to pay more to the government.
Lloyd Noel is a former attorney general of Grenada, prominent attorney at law and political commentator
All house owners will be affected, but the exact increase will depend on the new property value imposed by the administration for the year 2014 and beyond.
In cases where the house owners do not have permanent jobs, and have to rely on occasional employment to make ends meet, the increased taxes will be very burdensome, and will need special arrangements by the powers-that-be to help those in need.
As for those persons earning above the new income tax limit – and also have insurance and mortgage payments to meet – they too will have some financial worries to cope with in satisfying the new rates, both for the property tax and the income tax they will now have to meet.
Everyone would agree that the government has to raise funds to meet the national expenses, in running the country for the benefit of all the citizens residing therein.
But those who are in control of the nation’s affairs, based on the promises they made before February last year to regain the power they are now enjoying, must realise that the economic situation is in serious difficulties, and the great majority of our people residing in the tri-island state are going through endless torments to make financial ends meet – even before the new taxes become due.
Not only are so many thousands unemployed and have no other means to make a decent living, but the overseas dollars and pounds sterling they have been used to receiving from relatives in North America and England have long since dried up as those folks have now retired and living on their pensions.
The minority of those folks who are employed, and even the smaller number who are in the $3,000-plus bracket, cannot make up for the many thousands who are unemployed and struggling to make a living – so the conditions are going to get a whole lot worse off, before becoming any better to satisfy the needs of our people.
I cannot understand why the controllers have not been able to see the situation described above, and by so doing adopt far more reasonable measures to get the financial conditions up and on the move before imposing these higher taxes and duties.
It will be interesting to see what measures the controllers will be adopting when those so much higher taxes cannot be paid by the property owners especially who are unemployed.
As for the dozens of overseas investors who were all waiting impatiently to come ashore, once the new government was in control and ready to welcome them, we are coming up to one year in February and only Sandals has started its operations, and that hotel was the catch of the NDC government.
The new controllers have stated that three new hotels are more or less ready to start up business in the Spice Isle – so we are now waiting to see how ready they are.
But at the same time, the news from the controllers was that all stay-over visitors will have to pay a fee of US$5 per night at hotels or guesthouses on the island.
It was not said when exactly the payments will begin, but it was bad news for hotel operators, who see these fees as a retrograde step for the industry in these times especially.
Apparently these new fees were not discussed with the Hotels Association, so there are tensions in the industry because many bookings had already taken place at the old fees and the additional nightly fees can cause cancellations.
These new fees are in keeping with the higher taxes and duties announced in the 2014 Budget, which is now in operation islands-wide, but in the current economic situation facing people generally I can see all sorts of economic and social problems raising their ugly heads in the months ahead of this increasing taxation budget.
While I feel sure that people generally would expect the government to raise additional finances to meet the huge debt the state is owning its creditors or lenders overseas especially in our current economic situation island-wide, it seems to me and to the many people I have discussed the matter with that the increases are much too high to begin with.
So many people are unemployed with very little hope of finding employment anytime soon and the few who get occasional work in the roads maintenance gangs can barely meet their living expenses, never mind paying higher property taxes and the expected increasing cost of living that will surely result from the budget increases.
The powers-that-be should adopt a process of gradual increases, especially in the areas where the majority of taxpayers are very low-income-earners without permanent employment. If and when the thousands of jobs boasted about to win the elections become a reality, I am sure the people will have no objections to paying increased taxes to help the government meet its financial obligations at home or abroad.
But those in control have decided to go their own way and we have to wait to see how that way turns out in the fullness of time and the eventual results.
In the meantime, however, the next few months are not going to be easy for a whole lot of families to make financial ends meet so as to fulfill their liabilities.
It is to be hoped that, as the situation develops and the outcome reveals intolerable problems and hardships, the controllers will review the state of affairs and make the necessary amendments, to ease the pressure on needy families so that we can all live in peace and relative comfort.