United Progressive Party Accuses Browne Administration of Breaking Promise not to increase taxes

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Source Real News- The United Progressive Party (UPP) is accusing the Gaston BrowneAdministration of breaking its promise by its decision to increase the rate of the Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST).

Come 2024, the Administration intends to increase the sales tax by 2 percent – reportedly to meet financial obligations, including salary increases to public servants.

Therefore, the ABST will move from 15 to 17 percent, and this is expected to be confirmed on December 15, when Finance Minister Gaston Browne presents the budget for next year.

Damani Tabor, the UPP public relations officer, accuses the Administration of being uncaring and wicked.

He recalls that, in the 2023 Budget Presentation, Browne promised that there would be more efficient tax collection, thereby reducing the need to impose any new taxes or increase the existing ones.

Further, instead of reducing waste, as promised, Tabor says the Administration appears to have spent money wantonly, as was evident ahead of the St. Mary’s South by-election.

The public relations officer says the UPP sympathizes with the plightof small businesses, since the Government owes many of them largesums – with no agreement for set-offs to alleviate their hardship.

He advises the Browne Administration to prioritize collection from the larger businesses, as this is the obvious place to start in order to increase revenue.

Meanwhile, Tabor says there is no excuse for the prime minister’s refusal to investigate the leakage of revenue and close all the tax loopholes.

It is Browne’s refusal to move on the matter that is allowing the current low collection to continue, Tabor says; and, ironically, the prime minister is now using low collection as the excuse for raising taxes.

In fact, the UPP spokesman says, it has been reported that only 49 percent of the ABST is now collected.

Prime Minister Browne, during the 2023 budget presentation, had also promised that the practice of exchanges at the Customs Department would be discontinued – except in extraordinary cases.

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