Wednesday, 11 June 2014

NDC marches against taxes

THE town of Grenville was the venue for a peaceful march last Friday in which supporters and
executive members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) expressed their concerns about the ruling administration’s decision to enforce and/or add to clauses within Tax systems to increase revenue and Government’s failure to provide jobs for the people, which was a key promise during the February 2013 General Elections campaign.

General Secretary of the NDC, Patrick Simmons, said that the march, which was led by Political Leader, Nazim Burke, is to openly call for a change to the island’s tax system and at the same time draw to the Government’s attention the need to fulfil their promise of jobs for the people.

Some of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) supporters
who marched through the town of Grenville last Friday.
“We believe that the current tax system is regressive. There is no equity in the tax system and at the same time, this current administration is coming with them too frequently on the people. This needs to change, something has to be done,” he said.

Simmons, who served as Youth and Sports Minister during the NDC administration which did not win a constituency seat in the February 19 General Election, said that the taxes are negatively impacting on
the personal lives of Grenadians, while those who are unemployed are totally fed up with searching for jobs.

“Most importantly, we are calling for a fair tax system,” said Simmons, who claims that since the year started not only has the ruling New National Party Administration increased existing taxes, but they have also introduced new ones.

“Property tax has doubled and now we are hearing of new ones,” he said.

As part of efforts to increase its revenue, Government, as of January 1, 2014, has undertaken some measures which include the lowering of the Income Tax threshold from EC$60 000 to EC$36 000; increasing the licensing fees within the Road Traffic Act and property tax, and most recently, parliamentary approval to increase the excise tax on rum and cigarettes, as well as increase the
licensing fees for a number of goods and services.

Recently, Timothy Antoine, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, said that those measures were assisting in increasing Government revenue, which is allowing the Ministry of Finance to at least meet its commitment to pay monthly salaries. He said that for the first quarter of 2014, both the Customs and Inland Revenue Departments met their targets.

However, Government is still working on closing the fiscal gap, he said, while explaining that  before the tax measures, Government, which has a monthly wage bill of more than EC$22 million, had
a monthly revenue of EC$35 million, but during the first quarter had a monthly income of EC$40 million. (LS)

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