Beautiful Virgin Islands

Sunday, Dec 04, 2022

Gov’t criticised for poor diversity in revenue-generating schemes

Gov’t criticised for poor diversity in revenue-generating schemes

Leader of the Opposition Marlon Penn has accused the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government of what he described as a lack of innovation in finding areas to generate revenue for the territory.

Speaking on the National Democratic Party (NDP) radio show earlier this week, Penn said the government’s two tools for economic diversification are gambling and marijuana.

The Opposition Leader said the Gambling Bill (Gaming and Betting Control Act) has been passed and the government is yet to have a commission in place to oversee it.

“There are monies in the budget that they have budgeted and saying they are going to get ‘X’ amount of revenue from gambling, and they don’t even have a board in place to run the Gambling Commission. So, you see, there is no focus in terms of the key things that need to be done,” Penn said.

The Opposition Leader also noted that the government has been bragging about monies collected from the seven per cent tax on remittance; a levy he describes as putting pressure on persons who can ill afford to pay that tax.

“These are people that don’t have a choice but try to survive in the BVI where they work and live and also have to send back to their loved ones they left behind. We did that when we use to go to the Dominican Republic and other places to work. That is just the way of life for some persons and the reality for some,” Penn said.

“You cannot be bragging about the money you make from that on the backs of poor people. The government’s approach to the diversification of our economy is taxing the poor. That has been their strategy. Putting taxes on people that can least afford it instead of being innovative and finding innovative ways to generate the revenues in the country. You are putting taxes on the people who could least afford it,” the NDP Leader continued.

Residents not seeing discussions happening

Penn said residents are not seeing any discussions happening on the things over which the Fahie-led government has the power to make less of a burden to taxpayers.

He further said the government has a responsibility for the policy direction of the country and they have the tools at its disposal to make life easier for the ‘so-call little man’ who the government claims it is protecting.

“You are not hearing the government speaking about things which they have control to act. The port fees are one area they could act on, the taxes that are coming in is one area that they could act on. The fuel surcharge. What is the conversation we are having with the Electricity Corporation to ensure that we are not having a drastic bump in electricity cost in the next three to six months, how are we going to sort of level that off? What are the things we are doing to cushion the small man that they continue to put pressure on?” the NDP Leader questioned.

“They are putting more burden on the little man; the persons who are feeling the gas pumps, who are feeling when they are buying the propane, who are feeling when they buy at the grocery store, who are feeling it just for our basic necessities of life,” Penn said.


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