Vincentian opposition leader says budget was lacking
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Wednesday January 11, 2012 –Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has failed to clearly show how he intends to rescue the struggling economy as he responded to the 2012 budget presentation.
“I agree there is need for bold action but I ain’t see nothing bold in the budget,” Eustace told legislators who last year approved an EC$793.9 million (US$294.03 million) fiscal package for 2012.
“I am yet to come to grips with what there is in the budget to consolidate our fiscal situation; what is there to promote economic growth,” Eustace said.
“I didn’t hear anything of the countercyclical approach because we ain’t have no money to conduct any countercyclical approach,” Eustace argued, while also pointing to the country’s high unemployment rate.
“What is being done to put the economy in a position where there is significant job creation?”
He suggested that the government will not be able to pay wage increases in June because of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
The prime minister announced on Monday that property taxes and duties on beverages, tobacco, and vehicles would be increased.
He said the 15 per cent hike in Property Tax would generate an additional three million dollars, partly because it would capture 10,000 more taxpayers.
“The property taxes in this country are way below property taxes across the region and we can’t reasonably expect to have a system for the payment of property (taxes) based on a rate and a base of 20 years ago. We all have to be reasonable,” Gonsalves said.
He stated that residents will also begin paying VAT, introduced in 2007, on items such as cooking oil, salt and baby diapers that were previously zero-rated.