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Fri 20th Oct 2017

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UK government rewards bad accountability and bad governance with debt relief

It is believed that the ULP government will receive about EC$180 million in debt relief from the UK government in the latter part of 2017.

It is shocking how the UK government can be so short-sighted and give EC$180 million in debt relief, and ignore the very serious breakdown in governance and accountability of the public accounts in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and ignore the plight of the people of SVG.

It appears that the UK government is rewarding bad accountability and bad governance with debt relief.

Under the Mustique Act no. 48 of 2002, the super-rich of Mustique & Canouan get tax and customs duty exemptions worth about EC$500 million annually. Yet the UK government ignores this.

Under the SVG High Seas Fish Act, Taiwan uses SVG’s national flag and SVG’s tuna fishing licence. However, under the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas rules, Taiwan is required to offload its tuna fish catch from the Atlantic Ocean in SVG and pay tax to the SVG Treasury.

However, Taiwan gets away with not paying about EC$3 billion in fish tax annually to the SVG Treasury. Yet the UK government ignores this.

In 2007, the ULP government overspent the budget by EC$63 million without prior approval of the SVG Parliament (Source: audit reports 2007 - 2010). The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1979 constitutionally-appointed Director of Audit failed the ULP government on the audit of public accounts for the years of 2008, 2009 and 2010.

In 2008, the SVG Director of Audit was refused access to the records at the Inland Revenue department to verify the accuracy of revenue (Source: audit report 2008).

The SVG 1979 constitutionally-appointed Director of Audit has complained strongly that the Public Accounts Committee reports 2001 to 2017, as under Section (76) of the SVG 1979 Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, have not been completed (Source: audit reports).

By giving the ULP regime EC$180 million in debt forgiveness, the UK government gives a perverse reward for bad governance and accountability of the public accounts in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Clearly, the ULP government lacks financial discipline and lacks the ability to competently manage SVG’s financial affairs and economy. The ULP government received debt relief from the UK government in 2002, but since then the ULP government has been so reckless and wasteful with the country’s money, that they have simply accrued a massive of debt again.

SVG has high debt levels. Granting debt relief to a government that is reckless does not help the people of SVG in the long-term. It is not a sustainable solution.

The tax exemptions given by the ULP government to Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan are choking the SVG economy to death and causing severe poverty, high levels of crime and unemployment, destitution and hunger. SVG has poor health facilities and a very poor education system too.

The UK government is ignoring the plight of the people of SVG in granting debt relief to a financially reckless government. The UK government should force the ULP government to abolish the tax exemptions given to Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan and collect the billions of dollars owed to the SVG Treasury.

The UK government should explain this perverse reward of debt relief to a financially wasteful government.

SVG Green Party

cc: His Excellency the Governor General of St Vincent and the Grenadines
SVG Minister of Finance
Hon. Leader of the Opposition SVG
Hon. Chief Justice OECS Supreme Court
United Kingdom Prime Minister
UK Ambassador to Barbados
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Director General, British Broadcasting Corporation

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