Brantley says $538M Issue Raises Many Questions

The resolution was passed about one week ago and according to reports which have reached this media house, one member of the Opposition Benches was present when the resolution was passed and that member, as he explained, was denied the opportunity to lend his voice to “debate” on the issue.

Brantley, who had left Parliament by this time to journey back to Nevis, expressed to that he is “surprised at the manner in which the resolution was dealt with.”

“There was no notice to Parliamentarians, I certainly did not know that this resolution would be tabled at that sitting and indeed, I am advised that at that point in time when resolution was raised by Minister Carty, not even by the Minister of Finance, there were only four members present in parliament. First of all, I think the manner in which this was done – especially bearing in mind that this is such an important measure to claim some half a billion dollars in debt. I think it ought to have been handled differently.”

The Opposition Leader also spoke of Value Added Tax (VAT) which was implemented in November 2010 with an aim of revenue generation. He said since the VAT had been introduced, the government has not updated the public on the revenue it has generated and on the success or the failure of the “experiment”. He questioned whether or not the success or failure of the VAT was linked to the government’s decision to borrow in excess of a half billion dollars.

“The other issue for me is in relation to VAT. We were told that VAT was being introduced clearly as a package of austerity measures proposed by the IMP and being implemented by our government. And we were led to believe that VAT would assist in easing the situation in relation to our debt. We have now had VAT in place since November (2010) and I am surprised that we have had really no update from the government in terms of the success or failure – as the case may be – of VAT. So at this juncture, we really don’t know what is happening, we don’t know what the position is, what the collections have looked like and whether or not this VAT experiment that the government has embarked upon really is working for purposes of its stated objectives. So the truth is, we really don’t know. In the absence of information from the government on these matters, we do not know what sums have been collected.

“In Nevis in particular…the government of Nevis negotiated a deal with the government of St. Kitts that Nevis will get 24 percent and St. Kitts will get 76 percent and so we are curious to know what the figures look like and I call on the government to publish those figures. They should be matters of public consumption so that we in the public can properly assess whether or not this experiment with VAT is really working.”

Mr. Brantley described the situation as a serious one especially in light of the comments made by the International Monetary Fund as it relates to the St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank.

“The bigger question for me is what are we doing yet again with this large-scale borrowing – and might I add – from our domestic bank, the National Bank which the IMF has already commented on, that they feel that the local banking sector is overexposed to the government. So there are some serious issues here to be considered by us as a nation in terms of what we are doing and where we are going on the issue of debt and the management of the economy,” Brantley expressed.

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