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Commentary: Law and Politics: Instead of work - more taxes
Published on August 6, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Lloyd Noel

The Value Added Tax (Amendment Act) came into effect on August 1, 2014, to amend the VAT Act Cap 333A to add more accommodations to the list of places now liable to pay VAT on rentals received.

Lloyd Noel is a former attorney general of Grenada, prominent attorney at law and political commentator
The new list now includes student housing, private house, or a room or similar establishment in which lodging is normally provided at a rent; and the tax is 10% of the rent.

I can see the rationale where the individual or a company is running a business – but for a private house or a room, where the owner is simply trying to raise some extra income to help the family budget, this seems to be going too far.

On the other hand, property owners of whatever sizes would no doubt be increasing the rents to help cover the extra tax – that is assuming the property rental comes within the level for VAT liability.

But all that been said, the question comes up for an answer – can the landlord or house owner increase the rent, where a tenant had signed a lease for a fixed period at an agreed rental for that period.

A matter for discussion and due consideration – depending on the situation in each case – but I can foresee some problems arising.

Except for the increases in rates or taxes to raise revenue, nothing else seems to be happening in the government circles to acquire funds to provide employment for the thousands of people looking for work.

And while the increases are causing problems for property owners, the funds being raised by the controllers cannot go very far in providing jobs.

The boasts and grand promises that investors were anxiously waiting on the current controllers to take charge and they would have been ready to come in and provide employment, under the citizens investment scheme canvassed by the winners, these remain just that and the waiting continues.

The loans and other funding, the controllers had disclosed were promised by foreign agencies – and guaranteed by the IMF on behalf of the government – these seem to remain just promises, because nothing of any substance has been forthcoming from any source thus far and the silence persists.

From all appearances and the political tidbits coming though the controllers’ grapevine, it seems that the whole emphasis is now centred on the reformation of the constitution – to give this government a free hand to do as it pleases, with no checks and balances from the outside to stop abuses.

Leaving the Commonwealth and becoming a republic with a president for life, and no further access to the Privy Council in England, to stop abuses by the government against those in opposition to its policies in our tri-island state is a recipe for political chaos and human rights travesty and indignity by those in control against their opponents.

But we as a people will have the chance to vote for or against such an outcome in February next year and, should we fail to vote against it happening, we will only have ourselves to blame for the result, good bad or indifferent.

I have not seen or heard any statement by the opposition parties on the matter – in particular the NDC or the GULP – and the time is running out while other critical issues are cropping up for attention.

Taking a decision in Parliament is well beyond the opposition parties’ control, because the government is fully in charge.

But the views or concerns of the opposition people should be forthcoming so as to assist the people on this very important and critical matter and it should not be a last minute attempt when the damage is already done.

I appreciate the point that some of those parties’ members would have their personal views about our colonial status way back under the British government and their leftist outlook in the political arena, but I hope they would be seeing the upcoming reform in a very different context and in the best interests of our people in general.

The economic situation now existing, and the living conditions of a whole lot of our people in these times, are in dire need of serious help from oversea sources, and how we go about seeking that help, as well as who are the people and the countries we turn to for such assistance, would make all the difference as to whether we succeed or fail.

The economic road ahead is not going to be easy for those in control to manage, so they have to be very careful as to where they turn and who they choose to follow.
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