VAT education swings into full gear

Sonia Boddie (left), the Tax Unit’s Public Relations Officer interacts with a member of the public.

St. Kitts, May 15, 2010 (SKNIS) – Consultations on the introduction of a Value Added Tax (VAT) in St. Kitts and Nevis have swung into high gear and citizens are pleased for the opportunity to weigh in on factors influencing the tax.

“I’m happy to see the White Paper issued because I understand that it was online and I haven’t had a chance to go online and get it. I’m happy to get it so I can go home and try to do my own investigation and try to understand as much as I can,” said one young lady.

“It’s a very good idea,” a middle aged man remarked. “You [are] giving the people a general idea of what’s going on and they can be more educated in terms of what’s going on.”

The comments were featured on this week’s edition of SKNIS Perspectives, which captured the opinions during the May 07, VAT Meet and Greet. Staff from the Tax Reform Unit erected a booth on Fort Street in Basseterre that Friday afternoon and handed out copies of the White Paper and a brochure on the “General Principle of VAT” to passersby. A similar exercise was conducted in Nevis.

Sonia Boddie, the Tax Unit’s Public Relations Officer estimated that close to 1,000 persons stopped by the booth to ask questions and/or collect printed materials. She noted that the Unit was pleased with the response and will stage similar exercises around the Federation during the upcoming weeks and months.

Other interactive outreach events will include town hall meetings; stakeholder discussions; call in radio programmes and others.

Ms. Boddie, who is also a Senior Tax Inspector, emphasized that the process was very inclusive and called for all persons to exercise their democratic rights and contribute to the shaping of the VAT in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Meanwhile, Therese Turner-Jones, Programme Coordinator of the Barbados-based Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC) gave thumbs up to the process citing the efficiency and well-thought out plans that had gone into the education process.

“I think it’s off to an excellent start,” she said after participating in the May 06 National Consultation on VAT, which was attended by representatives from the public and private sectors. “… Some of the comments were mostly about tweaking but I think there is general acceptance. Even the most capitalist of the private sector representatives in the room realize that this is going to happen and I think VAT will be implemented successfully.”

Several of the town hall meetings are scheduled for next week. On Tuesday, May 18, members of the Tax Reform Unit will host discussions at the Newtown Community Center. On Wednesday, May 19, the team visits the Nevis Cultural Center and on Thursday, May 20, discussions move to the St. Pauls Community Center.

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