Fri 16th Feb 2018

Camillo Gonsalves punishes the poor – remove him as SVG Minister of Finance

In the 2018 Budget, the highly incompetent and unqualified Camillo Gonsalves showed he is a liability to our country and people as the SVG Minister of Finance, by his plan to reduce the Kilowatt hour (kWh) usage threshold for charging VAT down to 150 kWh from 200 kWh.

Effective 1st May 2018, this reduction in the kWh threshold for VAT, means that all of VINLEC’s domestic customers who consume 150 units or more monthly will be required to pay 16% VAT on their bill.

The nastiness of reducing the kWh threshold from 200 kWh to 150 kWh means an additional 13 percent of VINLEC consumers will be subjected to the 16% VAT on their bill.

According to the Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal, the additional 13 percent of VINLEC consumers who will be subjected to pay VAT will be VINLEC’s poorer consumers. Camillo Gonsalves is punishing poor people with this tax increase. It is totally unfair and vindictive.

The cost of VINLEC electricity will increase by 16% VAT for usage of 151 kWh and above. This is a direct attack by Camillo Gonsalves on poor people, many of whom are unemployed and already struggle to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, Gonsalves still will not abolish the tax and customs duty exemptions of hundreds of millions of dollars annually given to the super-rich white migrants of Mustique and Canouan.

Lowering the kWh threshold for VAT, will reduce the consumption of VINLEC electricity and reduce the number of VINLEC customers, as more households will find that they cannot afford the price of electricity. This means the number of people paying the 16% VAT for usage of 151 kWh and above will be reduced.

According to Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal, it is a backwards tax policy and highly regressive as it takes a proportionally greater amount of tax from people on lower income. Camillo Gonsalves’ appointment as SVG Minister of Finance must be revoked.

The social impact of increasing the price of electricity will be significant on the education of children of the poor, as fewer households will have access to electricity. The long-term negative impact on poor children’s education will be that fewer will gain qualifications, they will be unlikely to get jobs and their ability to rise out of poverty will be severely reduced.

A few weeks ago, a young child died in SVG from a candle fire in a home which had no electricity. How many more children’s lives must be lost before we have electricity for all at an affordable price?

Rather than increase taxes on poor people and punishing poor people, Camillo Gonsalves should be generating new sources of revenue from new industries in SVG. It is insane for Camillo Gonsalves to lower the VAT threshold to include poor households of 151 kWh usage, when a few blue-fin tuna fish could earn more revenue for the SVG Treasury if SVG had its own tuna fishing and canning industry.

Camillo Gonsalves must start taxing the dirty dog Taiwan and the super-rich white migrants in Mustique and Canouan. It is unfair for the SVG Minister of Finance to lower the VAT threshold from 200 kWh to 150 kWh and increase taxes on poor households whilst not taxing the rich.

Break the chain - SVG needs change.

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