United Progressive Party Leader Harold Lovell said:
“Now, why is all of this so important?
And how does it tie into what we’ve been saying?
when we have goods imported into the country, Everybody knows you pay taxes, you pay the duty, you pay the revenue recovery charge, and you pay the ABST.
Our argument is, the government is now collecting twice as much at the port because the prices that are coming in are twice as high.
Because the prices are twice as high, the government is collecting twice as much. Logic.
If the government is collecting twice as much, which is what we are seeing overall, the government ought to cut the amount that they are taking, because the government is benefiting from these high prices.
The government is benefiting from the inflation, but they’re taking everything, passing on nothing to the consumers, and to the people of this country who are suffering. What we are saying is, oh, Lord, have a heart, be compassionate.
If the government is collecting twice as much, pass on something to the people so that people can survive. So that People can eat.
When we look at the cost of the various goods,[it is astonishing] and we spoke about reducing costs on some of the cultural foods, the things that go into a pepper pot and the things that go into the preparation of saltfish and seasoned rice, and so on.
Okay, some people say a lot of it is salty and I was okay, we take the point. No problem.
But chunks, things like chunks. We have also said to reduce the duty on things like chunks.
When you do that for the vegetarians and the folks who don’t eat meat, at least they, with their type of diet, will be able to get access to these foods at a cheaper price.
But it’s very important that we emphasize it is not good enough for a government to say nothing can be done. You look at what’s happening. As I said, in Grenada, Barbados, Dominica, Nevis, in St.Lucia, all of these other member states within the OECS.
They’ve all intervened to help their people.
Only the government of Antigua refuses to help its people by doing absolutely nothing. It’s a wicked administration who are only concerned about how they can benefit.
But when it comes to benefiting the people, nothing. And we must call them out for this. And we continue to say, bring some benefit and relief to the people of this nation.
A UPP administration.
We will reduce the duty on certain goods. We will remove the duty on certain essential food items, and we will reduce the duty on building materials. In doing so, not only will we reduce the price of food, but we will also reduce the price of building materials, making it more affordable for people to build their homes.
Now, insofar as making sure that the benefit is passed onto the consumer, we have been very clear about this.
We would mobilize the prices on consumer affairs and other relevant agencies so that when the benefit is given at the port, it must be passed on at the shop level, the supermarket level, at the level where people are buying especially now that Christmas is coming.”
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