GOVERNMENT?is not taking advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), said Opposition Leader?Owen Arthur.
Pointing out that it took effect from January 2011, Arthur queried why it had not been mentioned by Government during yesterday’s Estimates presentation.
He raised the issue in Parliament during his contribution to the Estimates Debate 2011.
The former Prime Minister reminded the House that during the Budget Debate last November, he mentioned that no serious attempt had been made across the Caribbean to take advantage of the development cooperation provisions in the EPA, even though Europe had given the region “generous development cooperation finance” to restructure not only the traditional industries, but to enhance the growth of new industries.
“If the tariff provisions from the EPA had to be brought into account for January 2011, somebody had to be paying attention to it because there could be revenue implications from implementing the EPA; there could be a competition implication; but, more to the point, we should be seeking to balance any loss of revenue from Europe, not by replacing import duties with excises of an equivalent nature but by seeking to access what I regard as the generous grant window from Europe to accompany the implementation of the EPA,” Arthur stated.
He added:?“I was not satisfied then and I?am not satisfied now that this matter has been receiving the attention that it should receive.”
The former Prime Minister argued that the Estimates had not been prepared on any presumption that import duties would be reduced by the implementation of the EPA.