St Lucia political party calls for VAT delay

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By Caribbean News Now contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia — After weeks of what it describes as cautiously examining St Lucia Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony’s motive for wanting to implement value added tax (VAT) in September — now in October — of this year, the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) said it is firmly convinced that there is a sinister political motive behind the government’s attempts to railroad the implementation of the VAT in St Lucia.

While the LPM said it is not opposed to the implementation of VAT — and is fully supportive and understanding of why it is required — the party cannot help but see the motive behind this rush.

According to the LPM, when compared to other standard models, VAT legislation can be very complex and, if too politically motivated, can take an ad hoc path that will destroy the very essence of its implementation, namely, to achieve financial stability through effective fiscal and monetary management. The LPM warned the current administration to refrain from littering the VAT legislation with too many exemptions and privileges. This fiscal path can diminish revenue impact and will be difficult to manage, the party said, in a press statement.

“The LPM is firmly of the opinion that Dr Anthony and his government is in a rush to establish VAT during its first year in government, simply for political expedience. It is thinking in terms of the long-term political interest of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP), and not in terms of what is economically viable for the country at this time,” the statement read.

“By implementing VAT right now, the SLP is hoping to escape the wrath of the people of St Lucia — a wrath that is bound to occur, given the hardship that VAT will exact. It is the belief of the LPM that by so doing, the SLP is hoping that the passage of its term in office will lead to the people of St Lucia forgetting all about the economic hardship they have had to endure for decades,” the statement continued

The LPM called upon Anthony and his government to delay the implementation of the VAT to 1 January 2013, so as to fine-tune and better define a tax system that is as yet largely unknown to the general populace.

“The design of the VAT has to take into critical account our country’s public sector size, degree of openness, industrial concentration levels, literacy rates, and the size distribution of the tax to name a few. The people of St Lucia must fully understand what they are up against, before being taken like proverbial lambs to the slaughter,” the statement concluded.

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