With the Saint Lucian economy already brought to tatters by the Saint Lucia Labour Party, the Saint Lucian Prime Minister, Dr Kenny Anthony, is attempting to use CARICOM as a cover for his failed economic policies.
The regional community is about to act as an umbrella to shelter the Saint Lucian prime minister in his latest round of items that will attract VAT. As this would now be the work of the commission on the sustainable growth strategy for CARICOM.
Established on the advice of the Saint Lucian prime minister last September, the final work of the Commission to look at the ailing OECS economies would be presented at the 35th CARICOM Community Heads of government Regional meeting in Antigua.
The Saint Lucian prime minister was now using the Antigua Summit as his staging ground in order to protect his government from political fallout for the impending further hardships he was about to impose on an already beleaguered Saint Lucian population.
Then, again, the Saint Lucian prime minister may have already forgotten the review of the VAT list announced during his presentation of the Appropriation Bill on May 13, 2014. It was a Tiwe’ Tjilot budget for a prime minister attempting to fix the country’s fiscal deficit.
The Saint Lucian prime minister was now looking to the CARICOM 35th regional meeting to get a firsthand report on the work of his proposed commission, which was setup to address the troubled economies of the region, particularly for those small states within the Community.
What was already pronounced by the Saint Lucian prime minister, like so many things before that he would not do, was now being advanced as some regional, or world approach. How well has the Saint Lucian prime minister been thinking outside the box when all this time he was supposedly thinking alongside CARICOM?
“VAT now applies to peas, beans, canned beef, fish,” a government press release would inform the public of price controlled food items that would now attract the standard 15% VAT [Voleur Anthony Tout] rate, effective Tuesday, July 1.”
Surprisingly, what was the Saint Lucian prime minister’s response in his 2014/15 Budget address to an ailing Saint Lucian economy, which he had himself engendered much of its negative growth, he would now somehow try to find favour within CARICOM circles.
There he was off to the 35th regional meet, encouraged that the CARICOM Commission on the economy had been given priority on its agenda, with the press release stroking the Saint Lucian PM’s ego. After all, it was he who brought about the formation of the Commission at the 25th Heads of Government meeting, in Port-Au-Prince.
It was, however, far from any rational expectation on the part of the Saint Lucian prime minister, as the work presented by his Commission to the heads of governments’ meeting was only a draft plan of action by the close of the regional meeting.
The much anticipated priority of the troubled economies down for consideration, which was the driving force for the Saint Lucian prime minister’s attendance at the regional meeting would most certainly not live up to expectation.
Maybe, it would have been better for the Saint Lucian prime minister to have heeded the instruction of the CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin La Rocque, when he said regarding the regional response to the current economic downturn that “it will involve building resilience in … technological areas.”
The Saint Lucian prime minister should never be found squandering much needed state funds by travelling abroad while being paid accommodation perks that he could have otherwise avoided by participating at the regional conference via digital conferencing.
With the Saint Lucian prime minister seeking a CARICOM approach for economic recovery with new items under VAT, he was behaving true to form, as he has been found posturing on VAT once before (while in opposition) as being undesirable, while he has its implementation (now in government) as being desirable.
From VAT as an oppressive tax to VAT as a libertarian tax
From implementing VAT while having the most exempted goods and services in the region to rapidly reducing the basket of exempted goods and services, the promised better days turned bitter days, consumers will have to pay more for certain food items that are now taxable under the Value Added Tax.
The ministry of commerce has spared no effort in having the new taxable items on the VAT list published. The already severe financial crisis is about to bring about more labour pains for consumers, as Emma passes there. If subsidies on salt and sugar were now being removed it was because both items, according to the PM, were not good for consumption.
While health reasons weighed the heaviest for the undisputed prime minister of split decision to increase the prices of sugar and salt, he would now find justification for levying VAT on once protected items as the expenditure patterns in the data somehow “revealed that some items on the existing list were more readily consumed by higher income groups and as such, exemptions of these items have minimal impact on the poor.”
The new items to which the 15% VAT would now apply, include “split peas; black-eyed peas; chick peas; other peas, dried, shelled, whether or skinned or split; red and other kidney beans; other beans, dried, shelled, whether or skinned or split; coconut oil; canned corned beef of bovine animals; canned sardines; and unsweetened biscuits.”
By reducing subsidies on basic food commodities such as rice and flour and increasing VAT on the hotel industry. The PM, who is also the finance minister, is on record as saying, “While there will be adjustments of varying kinds, I do not believe new taxes is the way to go.”
Then, again, no one has a good enough memory to be a successful liar. The Saint Lucian prime minister being the leader of undisputed split decision somehow displays this more than any other. Hence, today’s new word added to the Kenny Lexi-Con (with the operative word here being CON), is none other than VAT (Voleur Anthony Tout).