By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands -- Following public debate on new taxes to be implemented by the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) government, though nothing has yet reached the local House of Assembly, the opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has called for official clarification on the rumoured introduction of a payroll or income tax in the TCI.
“This has serious consequences, should there be any truth to the rumour,” said opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, an attorney at law.
She pointed out that the PDM supported the appointment of a Blue Ribbon Commission on taxation but the opposition has not yet been provided with the final report of the commission.
“Hence, we cannot say whether this is raised in the report. It therefore follows that there has not been an opportunity to debate this in any forum,” Cartwright-Robinson said.
The annual fiscal plan known as the Fiscal and Strategic and Policy Statement (FSPS) required under the constitution must make reference to the government's proposed taxes even before the budget, which must be laid on the table six weeks before debate and passage in parliament.
“In opposing VAT, we called for greater compliance and a complete review of the revenue streams with great consultations on seeking new and steady streams of revenue. Aside from this, there must be an aggressive marketing of our country for tourism and investment in order to attract fresh capital. We cannot continue to tax a shrinking base,” the opposition leader said.
Cartwright-Robinson said the government cannot and should not come to the people of the TCI with any additional taxes until it shows where it is addressing the astronomical cost of healthcare.
“I am sure there are savings to be made, as well as better management to put in place that will provide oversight of the healthcare system. It is simply bleeding this country. The government must ensure that the audits are done so that we can identify areas of waste,” she said.
The opposition said it cannot stand in parliament and support another tax on the people of the TCI.
“When I began in my profession to market TCI, I was given four points that gave us a competitive edge -- the absence of payroll or income tax was one such marketing tool that presented an edge. We need to listen to the cries of the people and also to see what we are doing to our marketing strategy as a country that is in dire need of fresh revenue through new investments,” Cartwright-Robinson pointed out.