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Fri 25th May 2018

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Climate Resilience Levy Bill does not make sense

The Climate Resilience Levy Bill, that becomes effective on 1st June 2018, requires all stay over visitors in hotels, apartments and short-term rentals to pay a EC$8.00 tax per night, per room occupied for not more than 30 days.

The Climate Resilience Levy Bill will no doubt affect all hotels, apartments and short-term rentals in St.Vincent, Bequia and Union Island. It is not clear though, if the Climate Resilience Levy Bill will be imposed on the hotels, apartments and short-term rentals owned by super-rich foreigners in Mustique, Canouan and Petit St. Vincent.

The Climate Resilience Levy Bill is yet another unnecessary tax on already overtaxed Vincentian businesses. It is another nail in the coffin of the Vincentian economy.

There’s virtually no money circulating our country, businesses are going bust and unemployment and poverty are rising. Our people are suffering. SVG needs fewer taxes in order for businesses to flourish and grow. It is only when SVG businesses flourish and grow that there will be any chance of creating a strong and sustainable economy.

Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal believes that there is something fundamentally wrong in the manner in which our country is being governed.

According to the Budget Address 2018, the revenue from the Climate Resilience Levy Bill is estimated to be at $1.7m in 2018. However, in 2018, the ULP government will also give away about EC$3 billion in the tax avoidance schemes given to Taiwan and the super-rich white migrants of Mustique and Canouan.

The ULP regime is purposely giving away a large amount of tax avoidance to super-rich foreigners and imposing a very tight tax regime on Vincentian businesses and people. This is wrong on many levels.

Also, it makes no sense to start a Climate Resilience Levy Bill, whilst at the same promoting tourism to SVG.

Building the Argyle airport and encouraging people to fly thousands of miles across the world to visit SVG, is actively promoting more climate change and more destruction to the SVG environment. Aviation increases global warming.

The Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons) MSc, MBA, asks that Minister of Finance, Gonsalves, fosters a greater appreciation of climate change and its potential hazards and builds the SVG economy on industries other than tourism.

Far from being the saviour of SVG, tourism is killing SVG and will leave parts of SVG under water in the long-term. SVG must urgently move away from focusing on tourism as the engine of our economy.

In the Budget Address 2018, it was announced that ‘the Government will be embarking on a tax reform programme aimed at improving efficiency and equity, strengthening various tax laws and procedures to eliminate loop holes and where feasible seek to widen the tax base’.

If that is true, why doesn’t the ULP government tax Taiwan and abolish the tax exemptions given to the super-rich white migrants of Mustique and Canouan. There would be no need then to punish Vincentians with the Climate Resilience Levy Bill and it would raise billions of dollars more.

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