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Fri 25th Jun 2021

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Tax havens for foreigners in SVG are very bad for our people

It is clear to all that tax havens for foreigners in SVG are very bad for our people. Super-rich foreigners in SVG are getting away with not paying hundreds of millions of tax that should be going into the SVG Treasury. Tax havens make the super-rich richer and make indigenous Vincentians poorer. It is the poor and women and children who suffer the most from tax havens in SVG.

According to the UK aid charity Oxfam, since 2015, the richest 1% has more wealth than the rest of the world combined. This extreme economic inequality is fuelled by an epidemic of tax evasion and avoidance that has reached an unprecedented scale. While millions across the world live in poverty, rich individuals and companies, exploiting tax havens, are continuing to dodge their taxes, depriving the poorest countries from being able to provide vital services.

This is evident in SVG. The ULP regime grants tax exemptions to Taiwan and the white super-rich of Mustique and Canouan. The consequence of this means that hundreds of millions of dollars are not being paid by these foreigners in tax to the SVG Treasury each year. The effect of this is that our people are being denied public services and support that they deserve and need, and our people suffer needlessly.

When super-rich foreigners dodge paying their taxes in the countries where they do business and where they make their money, they deprive governments of the resources they need to provide vital public services and infrastructure like schools, hospitals and roads, and to tackle poverty and inequality.

We see this in SVG. Some schools are in a dilapidated state, in many areas of the country roads are terrible and our hospitals are woefully under-resourced. Also, we have a high rate of unemployment, poverty is rife and thousands of households have no running water and mains electricity.

These problems could all be avoided if Taiwan and the white, super-rich parasites of Mustique and Canouan pay all their tax.

The Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, says that tax havens offer no net benefit to SVG and are a breach of Section 13 of the SVG 1979 Constitution, which is ‘no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect’.

The ULP Regime is irresponsibly throwing hundreds of millions of dollars down the drain. Black children in SVG have been let down for decades in education, while Taiwan and the super-rich White Migrants in Mustique and Cuanouan have had billions of dollars tax in tax exemptions.

Our children’s dreams and life opportunities are tossed aside in favour of making the super-rich richer. Too many of our children end up in jail and in generational poverty. This is racism at its worse and is highly counterproductive to sustainable development in SVG.

When it comes to paying tax, there is one rule for the super-rich and another for ordinary people. While the greedy and heartless super-rich get away with paying little or nothing, ordinary Vincentians are left to foot the bill for government spending. If we are going to end extreme inequality, we must end the era of tax havens in SVG that enable the super-rich to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Action aid says that governments must ensure that their tax systems are fairer, more progressive and better able to ensure that all children – especially girls – are able to fully enjoy their right to a good quality education and a life not in poverty.

The Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, says that in order to move our country forward, strengthen our economy, create mass employment and substantially reduce poverty, we must end tax havens in SVG.

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