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Fri 22nd Jan 2021

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SVG must abolish racist tax policies

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation in South Africa, under which the rights and movements of the majority black inhabitants were curtailed. Apartheid was abolished in South Africa in 1994, but, sadly, apartheid lives on in SVG.

Mustique operates like an apartheid state. The white super-rich live a life of luxury, but very harsh rules and conditions our imposed on indigenous Vincentians living in Mustique and in SVG.

The Mustique Act No 48 of 2002 is racist. The Act grants the white, super-rich foreigners of Mustique blanket tax and customs duty exemptions. This chokes of hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue in tax and customs duty from the SVG economy and treasury. This is totally unacceptable and bad for our economy. Meanwhile, indigenous Vincentians have to pay tax.

The argument that Mustique is good for employment is false. It is conservatively estimated that for every $1 in employment that is created, about $33 of revenue is lost, because the super-rich of Mustique get blanket tax and customs duty exemptions. Let us not forget that some of the properties rented out on Mustique are priced at over EC$135,000 per week.

The granting of tax and customs duty exemptions to the super-rich, white migrants in Mustique and not to the black poor and powerless indigenous population is a naked act of racism. The racist Mustique Act No 48 of 2002 should be abolished without further delay.

Apartheid is a plague in SVG and it must be abolished now. All over SVG we can see the damaging consequences of apartheid. There is a high teenage pregnancy rate, poor children are going hungry, families struggling to survive, many households cannot afford water and electricity, there is a high crime rate, many young people end up in jail and the children of the poor are getting left behind in education, as shown in the exam results every year.

The apartheid protects the interests of Taiwan and the white super-rich of Mustique and Canouan by given them blanket tax and customs duty exemptions. Meanwhile, poor Vincentians face high water and electricity prices and suffer under VAT and other unfair taxes.

The rich can sip champagne and laze by the pool all day, yet the poor suffer generational poverty and hardship. Canouan, Mustique and Taiwan must pay the SVG Treasury all the tax and customs charges they have avoided.

These racist laws and policies that discriminate in favour of the super-rich whites (fewer than 2% of SVG's population is white), over and above the interests of African origin, Indian, Carib and mixed race citizens are vile, disgusting and inhuman. They are there for one purpose only: to keep the rich, rich and to keep the poor, poor!

Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, says a Green government would abolish this racist tax policy. We would abolish the Mustique Company Act no 48 of 2002 and the Canouan Act, as these differential laws and policies that perpetuate apartheid. All Vincentians deserve prosperity, regardless of the colour of their skin!

The human rights of the black, poor and powerless indigenous population should not and must not be trampled on by policy makers in SVG.

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