In a chorus of dissension to some Bills being debated and with reference to the large National Debt and annual budget deficits, members of the Concerned Citizens Movement, (CCM) and the Peoples Action Movement, (PAM), told the representatives on the government benches, that their tax and spend policies are hurting the country and retarding its growth prospects.
Mr. Eugene Hamilton of the PAM charged that the government was only concerned about taxing the citizens, instead of concentrating on reducing the level of public spending.
Hamilton said that the government of Dr. Denzil Douglas has failed to address how it is going to reduce expenditure, though it continues to pile additional taxes on the populace.
Hamilton’s colleague, Senator, Vincent Byron Jnr., claimed that the present government is spending more money than it is receiving in income, thus the regular deficits.
The theme of tax and spend continued when former Nevis Premier and Parliamentary Representative for Nevis 10, Mr. Vance Amory, said that because of the worsening economic conditions and the increases in tax, the people of the federation, especially those in the lower income brackets, will have to make adjustments in their lives, in order to survive.
Amory said that “We need to talk to our people about the financial and economic challenges that are ahead, with the introduction of the Value Added Tax”.
The former Premier argued that government had been painting a rosy picture of the economy and not providing the true facts, as outlined in reports from the International Monetary Fund, (IMF) and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.
“Government needs to pay more attention to these analyses and warnings and make spending adjustments”, said Mr. Amory.
He said that the new tax regimes are going to negatively impact the quality of life for ordinary citizens, unless other measures are adopted to alleviate the conditions of the poor. It was Mr. Amory’s view that the Labour Government has, in a very short time, reduced whatever gains were made in the past, to shrink poverty levels within St. Kitts & Nevis.
Using his experience and qualification in the field of finance, Amory posited the view that “Reforming a tax structure requires a length of time before stabilization. We have to also encourage and facilitate economic activity, if we are to experience growth in the economy. Taxing and spending will not suffice”, said Amory.
Amory claimed that the government was so broke that if it were a private individual, approaching a financial institution for a loan, there was no way it would be granted it, given the poor financial position in which it finds itself. He said that government is having a difficulty to find revenue to cover its financial obligations.
Seven Bills were debated in the Assembly on Tuesday. They were; The Public Service Bill, 2010; The Excise Tax Bill, 2010; The Unincorporated Business Tax Bill, 2010; The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2010 and The Duty Free Shops (Licensing and Taxation) Bill 2010, St. Kitts District of the Wesleyan Holiness Church (Amendment) Bill, 2010 and The Evidence Bill 2010.