Concerns mount over UWP’s ‘VAT reduction’ election promise

Concerns mount over UWP’s ‘VAT reduction’ election promise

VAT

While the United Workers Party (UWP) ‘Five to stay Alive’ plan has been accepted by sections of the local populace, others have utterly rejected it, while some have raised concerns about whether these plans are realistic.

Political Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Allen Chastanet, told his supporters on Friday, May 13, that if the UWP wins the next election, they will deduct the Value Added tax (VAT) and eventually remove it.

“We will find a more creative way, and a less onerous way of raising revenues generated by VAT,” he said.

But since dishing out this and other major promises, some citizens have shown little excitement, stating that they were promised many things by the current administration and most of them were not delivered.

A Saint Lucia News Online (SNO) reader named Relzee said, “These promises are great, but are they achievable? I know some may be saying these promises are just to win political points, but the same can be said about the present government. They did make many promises in the last election and not much has been realized. So l am prepared to give Chastanet the opportunity to deliver on his promises.”

Another reader who described himself as, Boujon Guiyave, said: “I scanned many times over what he had to say, to see if he said money would be printed in Saint Lucia to fund his grand plan. The reason being, is in all his promises, he never said where the government will get the money to replace the loss in revenue. If it is not raised through taxes in its various forms, then do we borrow from lending institutions?”

But another reader also argued that: “If the present administration is wasting all the millions of  dollars of VAT being collected and is not able to reduce the debt, then all what is needed is a responsible new administration, that will spend only what it has and stop wasting taxpayers money. What sense does it make to collect VAT and waste it?”

Another reader said: “UWP’s ultimate plan is to go to the IMF because there is no way St. Lucia’s economy will thrive with the removal of VAT. All other Caribbean countries have VAT some even higher than ours and others have implemented VAT on what used to be zero-rated items in order to raise more revenue. Any economist would tell you that VAT is one of the prime ways in which a country could earn revenue. Now providing that VAT is removed, how is revenue going to be generated? Our country can hardly sustain itself on tourism, which is supposed to be the backbone of our economy. We need to think of the economy as an aggregate and not just what will benefit us as individuals. These politicians will say anything to get votes I tell you. And sadly, some of us fall for it.”

And adding his voice to the issue on Wednesday was General Secretary of the ruling Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Leo Clarke, who said the UWP’s promise is reckless, stating that the party needs to go beyond just saying that they are going to remove VAT, and explain to the people how they are going to do it.

Clarke also questioned how the loss of revenue would be replaced, while at the same time ensuring security for the jobs of public servants and providing essential services to the people of the country. He also explained that VAT is now stable and is yielding close to $300 million annually.

But the UWP leader said despite criticisms, the executive of his party had discussed these policies at length and held consultations with the people and institutions, before they were publicly announced.

He also stressed that his party will make it possible not only because it is something that they want, but because it will be best for the economy.

The SLP will be announcing a 15 point plan on Thursday at the Castries Market steps. These plans will form part of the the party manifesto for this year’s election.

(9)(14)

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44 COMMENTS

  1. VAT has been an added burden to the economic woes of St. Lucia. The Kenny Anthony administration believe that St. Lucia can taxed itself out of its economic crisis. Any high school student with basic knowledge of Economics would know that: " YOU DO NOT GROW AN ECONOMY BY IMPOSING TAXES ON THE GENERAL POPULATION." In reality you are doing the direct opposite!

    (4)(2)

  2. Most of these comments here are simply emotional knee-jerk comments rather than being based on any sound knowledge of economics or taxation. That says a lot about our civics and the state of informal education in Saint Lucia.

    What is quite disturbing is that those sorts of comments are almost identical with knowledge content of those who seek to represent the various constituencies around the country. This is a very sad state of affairs for a developing nation. What is more, it is reflective of the arrested development of both our youth and adult population.

    People have no interest in reading books and articles that enlighten them on matters of grave concern with respect to their future. The regard this as somebody else's business. This is rather disheartening. What kinds of decisions will these people be able to make when it comes to our extremely competitive of world of dog-eat-dog global capitalism? Even communist China has adopted a command and control form of capitalism, with the fixing of their foreign exchange rate for their currency, the yuan, for example.

    (7)(4)

    • If the majority of your citizens who determines the outcome of an election to choose capable people to govern a country, cannot read (reading and understanding what you read) and write............other people will tell us what to think or how to think..........we have to be able to differenciate facts from outright lies................We must have Adult Education classes available island wide...............The future economic growth of St.lucia is at stake

      (0)(0)

  3. So, Pretty good comments, mostly bashing SLP and how unpopular they've been as a government. Therefore, to get rid of those jokers, back your comments and go out to VOTE. That's the only way a difference will be made. Sometimes lots of us talk talk, hit the keyboards and comment but it must not stop there. Making your X count on election day is what matters. If voter turn out is low and folks don't come out to vote against SLP and Kennynomics, that joker will still be there with 5 more years of oppression.

    (9)(9)

  4. Vat was suppose to replace certain taxes. There are taxes which were not suppose to be in existence that are still there!! so in essence VAT was added to the taxes instead of removing and replacing.

    (10)(3)

  5. Let is wait this after the SLP announce it's 15 point to hear what they are and what the criticism will be and from which quarters.
    I am yet to see and hear so much against the non supporters of the UWP coming from the same set of non thinkers. The talk shows alone will tell you it's the same ones all the time. You will never the voices of a lot from the UWP side. Food for thought.

    (2)(0)

  6. I wonder what we did before VAT? We must have been in real misery!!!!
    Fact is SLP needs the VAT money to invest in grossly overpriced Capital projects for obvious reasons.
    VAT is crippling business so that the government can redistribute this money to themselves and to cut grass.

    (18)(3)

  7. NICE, SMILE, DANCE, JUMP and STEP plus VAT equals slavery and debt. St. Lucia has become a welfare state under SLP.

    V - vollier
    A - all
    T - the money

    (21)(12)

  8. Labour does not have within the ranks at the cabinet level, people who really and deeply understand economics. VAT was not supposed to be an additional tax, but a fundamental change in taxation as as NEW SYSTEM. Therefore, operating essentially as a NEW tax on the old system of existing taxes, it represents an abysmal lack of economic knowledge and knowhow. Labour simply killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. The economy has since gone into a downward spiral. Not even the Chamber of Commerce shewed any understanding of what was happening.
    The economy in the world that acts as a locomotive to other economies in the world, the US economy, does NOT operate with a VAT. Our VAT today is just a mishmash of confused economic goals and methods. It requires a lot of rework, or its abandonment as Mr. Chastanet says. However, that too requires a surgical scapel, rather than SLP's sledge hammer as economic policy.

    (97)(9)

    • They keep the public confused and abused with VAT and duty combined. A pure VAT system would have made more sense. SLP just used VAT to add a bigger burden to the old tax system, just irresponsible and greedy.

      (36)(5)

  9. That's the thing about these politicians. They say things that are pleasing to the air but if you take time to read and analyse these promises it's total garbage. All these politicians are the same in the sense that they utter promises and they say things like "we will find a more creative way to raise revenue." What we the people want to know is what exactly is that way.

    Give us detailed plans on how you are going to run our country and not just give blunt 5 point or 15 point plans.

    Stop introducing these nice, step, proud and all mediocre jobs and calling it employment. We need SUSTAINABLE employment and not employment which we have to take loans to pay people. Nice would be good if the country was doing better and we were actually able to afford such a program.

    Why dont we move to more industries and process our raw materials. Use the sulphur, cocoa, coconuts, plantain, mangoes etc etc and process them into products that we can sell locally and internationally and in the process create jobs that are sustainable, sustainable in that money is being generated and can cover the wages of the employees. This would also boost the economy.

    There are so many things that government can invest in or promote people to invest in to make the country better. It's a shame that we have to import mags coconut oil when we once produced magic oil... smh. We import plantain chips when we have farms of plantain!!! Its a shame really and truly!!!!

    (24)(1)

    • In total agreement with your above comment.

      Let's refocus on AGRICULTURE, Tourism is not and will never be a safe bet it's way too vulnerable.

      Bring back the glorius days when we produced the worlds best bananas.

      It's absolutely shameful that neither party over the years have been looking into this properly.

      Just want to attract more international hoteliers give SUPER tax breaks just so that Gov can see x amount of people are employed with in Hotel industry.

      And we're staring the replacement CASH Crop in the face but divering and wasting time. And that Cash Crop is non other than MARIJUANA (or even Hemp).

      The arguement to legalise Marijuana is being looked at the completely wrong light.

      But you are correct we've also got Coconuts, Plantain, Sour Sop, Moringa, Breadfruit and list goes on..

      The above mentioned crops have taken a major upscale in production because of health benefits associated with these crops. And selling for MEGA bucks in the Western world.

      Example: One can pay up to £3 GBP for a bag of Moringa no heavier than 10 grammes. Coconut Water plee worst..

      And we can grew all of these with ease, it really FURSTATES me.

      Both the UWP and SLP should consult with the Managing Director of Barons. That companies international reach with it's products is amazing.

      It should be legalised with intention to export as a crop and not just for social smokers ( i say this a social smoker myself).

      We are seriously missing the point or the more lucrative point on the issue of legalisation.

      (2)(0)

      • Why? St. Lucia is a beautiful island with so much to offer the world. The island as a whole benefits far more from Tourism that it ever could from bananas or agriculture in 2016. Right now, St. Lucia needs to worry about feeding itself, which is what the SLP government has focused on. Look at countries like those in Latin America who survive mainly off of exporting crops. Is that really what you want St. Lucia to become?

        (1)(0)

    • You happen to loose me along the way with your suggestion that govt should in vest in industries. Come on man, these areas are for the private sector. Are you an advocate for bigger govt or a leaner one. On which side of the fence do you stand? An example the Fond Assau ago processing plant. Established by govt sometime ago and now being retro fitted to meet food handling standards.

      (0)(0)

    • Well said! These people need to stop talking and work let us see the plans come to fruition. Jobs jobs jobs create sustainable employment dont borrow to pay nice workers or use the revenue raised to improve our infrastructure, health and education sector to pay nice workers.

      (0)(0)

    • Agreed. What will you tell the people whiles the factories are going to be built? How many of us St. Lucians would really want to be part of the line staff in the processing plant? What kind of salary would be deemed acceptable?
      There have been areas where the former administration put stuff in place to promote this same type of movement but our people didn't really take it on. I believe that we ought to find a way to assist our people on how to diversify as well as maximise our resources and harness their full potential.
      E.g : Why can the chinese restaurants sell 2 chicken legs for $13 and our local would sell one for $10? Where would the local man spend his money at this point?
      Also plenty of us always seem to stay on the outside and see and feel whats happening with plenty ideas on how it should have been or be fixed and are yet to lend a hand and continue to criticise those who try.
      Its our LUCIAN way.

      (0)(0)

  10. The way VAT is being implemented in St. Lucia is a business killer, the very process waste so much time as well goods and materials coming into St. Lucia are being charged duty and VAT, I thought the VAT was supposed to replace the old duty. The VAT system in St. Lucia is parasitic and oppressive. Allen could most certainly find and deliver a better system of taxation that this idiocy's of KDA.

    (13)(7)

  11. Concerns by who, is it the labor hacks that's seats in all sorts of positions doing nothing who are the sole beneficiaries of the vat. Lucian wake up. They are not defending your interest. These hacks are calling all programs to try and save their pad up salaries for doing nothing

    (12)(4)

  12. What Ti Pwen Tout and the rest of the UWP have failed to understand is that VAT is not only a local revenue collection mechanism. It is also a regional integration mechanism. The implementation of VAT is part of the Regional Tax Reform Intiative of Monetary Council of the ECCB. One of its purposes is to help remove competitive distortions in the tax systems of member state countries of the ECCB. We have an agreement with the other ECCB countries as it pertains to VAT. Additonally, the UWP Government made a commitment to the IMF in 2009 when it took theimoney ($US17.59 million) Exogenous Shock Facility.

    Maybe this is not a UWP plan but a Chatenet Family plan being driven down the throats of the lackies. Just remember it has always been the desire of Allan Chastenet to have a 4% sales tax on all commodities, including water and electricity, implemented. In fact himself revealed that he had advised Kenny Anthony to implement the 4% sales tax strategy but he did not take heed. Allan Chastenet's other desire has been to have public servant out of their jobs. Getting rid of VAT will present the perfect opportunity.

    (21)(15)

    • hopefully the PM will answer the question when he addressing the nation and where all the money disappeared in useless overseas embassies, creating new jobs for party friends, rentals of buildings and offices,
      A little island like ours can handle all affairs from here !!! and we don't need ambassadors in all countries and waist taxpayers money.
      We need a iron broom to clean up all this waisting and spendings.

      (5)(1)

  13. Without the $100 to $150 million that he borrows every year Kenny Anthony would have recorded negative growth in the St Lucian economy for the 14 tears he has been in power. Imagine that - negative growth of MINUS 0.5 to 1% if not for the $1.5 billion he has borrowed!

    In the elections to probably be called for late June the voters have to ask themselves if they can vote for a feckless sell aggrandizer like 'Kenny and Tony' whose only accomplishment is to become a multi millionaire while in politics along with his top acolytes.

    Employment, standard of health care, education are all a function of a country's growth and in 14 years Kenny has blown it all with his incompetence. Why should 5 more years be any different?
    It is a fact that in spite of their infighting that economic growth under the UWP was miles above the abysmal performance of the SLP.

    We now know that because they only think of filling their pockets that the SLP can never make the right decisions to create economic prosperity or social cohesion. The are haters and dividers - just look at their social media female activists spewing hate abd division all over the place even Jadia JnPierre hating on her father.

    The SLP have been evil bolums putting trouble in our land.

    (23)(2)

  14. Any economist will tell you that excessive taxation kills econonic growth and development.
    In his haste to achieve his objectives of borrowing or taxing to have $150 million every tear to cover his incompetence Kenny Anthony killed the economy.
    In 15 years as Minister of Finance and Prine Minister Kenny has had less that 1% growth every year on average.
    It is so bad and he is such a mismanager he started calling an economy with minus growth as "negative growth!
    From 1997 to 2006 St Lucia HAD THE LOWEST GROWTH IN THE OECS thanks to this mans clear inability to run this country.
    In the process he has run up $1500 million in debt.
    And he wants 5 more years in power?!!

    (22)(2)

  15. St.lucians,if we keep thinking ignorance we will stay backwards like two heels....a week or so before chasnet mention the five to stay alive......he did mention about the marijuana indusyry which is a multi billion dollar revenue in the most powerful nation...UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.so if they can with all their billion dollars resources why can't a poor ass nation like st.lucia especially when questioning the credibility of Mr.chasnet and how he's gonna go around to equate the budget,.... and he doesn't have to expose his strategic plan to his arrivals!!

    (3)(1)

  16. There is no way that Allen can remove VAT while at the same time increasing revenues in 5 or even 10 years. It is ludicrous! The first time I read it I dismissed it as political hogwash aimed at the uninformed. I never imagined Allen was serious about this.

    The world's best economists, after studying the situation decided that VAT was the best move we had. Now Allen has a better idea?

    Granted there are many papers produced by regional and International scholars who give great recommendations as to how we cant get our country back on track , such as reducing the cost of running government by increasing efficiency across the board. Removing VAT is suicidal and as much as we dislike the high prices most St. Lucians know that it is necessary.

    Allen there is so much you can say on a political platform before I begin to question your intelligence or your sanity. I recommend that you clarify your stance on this issue presently.

    (26)(9)

    • Says who? The same dude who called it an oppressive tax? We talk like vat has been around for 20 yrs andworking well.......fact is , its a recent tax and ifwe seeing it screwing us over , why wait 20 yrs to tweak it?

      (1)(1)

  17. So here is my take. To follow one must leave petty politics out.
    Chastanet is a business manager, a hotel to run, s mortgage to pay and plenty staff to pay. He has investment in St. Lucia and has a vested interest in St. Lucia thriving. Remember his interests are in the vulnerable tourist industry. His business succesful or not is immovable and stays here.

    Contrast Dr. Anthony, a lawyer. He has no big operational business with overheads and large amonts of staff to pay. In a law office he only needs a secretary and receptionist. Dr. Anthony can pick up himself and just go and work overseas at any time.

    So who has a greater committment to seeing St. Lucia prosper. Who if St. Lucia fails will see his business collapse with a mortgage to pay.
    Who will want to ensure St. Lucia get a solid deal in any tourism venture?

    (38)(32)

  18. The country survived without vat under the previous administration.....id go the old way n collect airport taxes as a alternative.