Britain says Turks and Caicos to remain VAT free

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and CAICOS Islands, Thursday February 28, 2013 – Britain says it will not impose a Value Added Tax (VAT) in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) after both the government and the opposition said they were against the tax measure.

Foreign and Commonwealth Minister with responsibility for the Caribbean, Mark Simmonds, in a letter to Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing, however indicated that London is of the view that the TCI government has a responsibility to ensure sound finances in the British Overseas Territory.

“This includes constraining expenditure within the legally binding fiscal framework which is now in place and being able to refinance its debts in 2016 without a further UK Government loan guarantee.”

London maintains that the VAT would provide a more stable, fairer and broader based system of revenue for TCI than that which is currently in place.

Premier Ewing had sent a letter to Simmonds on January 29, raising a number of concerns about the propsed implementation of the VAT from April 1 this year.

In his response Simmonds said that the TCI government will face more difficult choices to ensure stable and sustainable revenues and expenditures in the absence of VAT adding that London “is clear that we will not accept a return to the dire financial situation in TCI which prevailed before the Interim Administration”.

Simmonds said that he would be monitoring the situation in the TCI “very closely” adding “I cannot and will not allow a reversal of the progress that has been made by the Interim Government, which is a vital component for the reputation of the TCi and its people”.

Simmonds said he was also copying his response to the opposition party since it had provided support to the government on the tax issue “and in the interest of transparency given the forth-coming by-election”.

Voters in the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hills constituency go to the polls in March 22 to elect a new parliamentary representative in a by-election that could possibly result in a change of government.

Following the November 1 elections last year, the Progressive National Party (PNP) held a one seat majority over the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) but a court ruling earlier this month, meant that both parties now held eight seats each in the Parliament.

The court ruled in favour of defeated PDM candidate, Oral Selver  after the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hills seat had been won by the PNP’s Amanda Missick by a 394 to 364 margin. The other candidate Dr. Edward Smith got 58 votes.

But Selver filed a petition arguing that Smith was not qualified to be nominated as a candidate because he is a United States citizen and the 58 votes cast for him affected the outcome of the election. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)