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.