No compelling reason to postpone VAT introduction says PM Douglas

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 14TH 2010 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said Tuesday there is no compelling reason at this time for delaying the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) in November.

“The agenda of the Leader of the Opposition is not the agenda of the People of the country or the Government of the country. I see no reason because people are spending money in November or December why VAT cannot be introduce,” said Prime Minister Douglas on his weekly radio call in programme “Ask the PM.”

Dr. Douglas was responding to a caller who said that the Federation’s Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Hon. Mark Brantley is suggesting that the introduction of the VAT be delayed in November because people will be spending more money during that period.

“It is the government’s public servants who in my opinion would be more tasked than anyone else during this period of time,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

He however said that if the government officials who are implementing the VAT have said to the Government, to the country and to the private sector that ‘you don’t have to worry about the extra work we have to do, but we are prepared to do it’ then we shall simply move on.’

Dr. Douglas, who is also the Minister of Finance, pointed out that some people’s agenda is not the Government’s agenda.

people’s partisan political agenda is not the agenda of the people of this country. Some people would want us to be doing like some other countries by laying off workers, left right and center; closing down schools; closing down hospitals; closing down health centres. We are not going to do that in St. Kitts and Nevis. And that is why we are doing what we are doing within the time frame that we have decided that we will do it,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

said that consultation will continue with the stakeholders. “We have continued to say to the stakeholders that we believe from all that has happened to date that there is sufficient time given to introduce the VAT and until there is some indication otherwise that it cannot be done, we are continuing to pursue the time table that had been provided us as guidelines and as a result of consulting with those who have been accustomed to the introduction of VAT.”

Dr. Douglas said some persons are saying that some Caribbean countries took 24 months and 18 months to introduce VAT.

“This is St. Kitts and Nevis. Our experience is different from other countries. Some people I know for example – at one stage in Grenada, VAT was introduced and then abandoned. We are saying that a country’s experience is that country’s experience. Our experience is our experience. We have been advised with very, very good credible reasons that November is a possible time for us to introduce VAT and that is what we are working towards.

If there is a clear indication that that date (November) is not possible, then it will not be possible, but I do not believe that one man getting up and speaking as Leader of the Opposition and articulating what he thinks is an appropriate period because in December people are shopping and people are spending – all kinds of ridiculous reasons – I am saying that that is not sufficient for us to stop the agenda and the programme.”

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