Anthony blasts new tax
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Opposition Leader Dr Kenny Anthony today criticised the imposition of a US$35 tax on airline tickets saying the measure will result in St. Lucians having to be pay the highest rate of taxes to travel in the region.
The Stephenson King administration announced that the new tax, which went into effect from May 1, will be used to finance the re-development of the Hewannorra International Airport, south of here.
But Anthony in a statement noted that it is also a criminal offence not to pay the tax which does not exempt children.
“A person who refuses to pay the tax is liable, on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding EC$500 (US$185) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months,” he said.
He said it is highly unusual for a tax to be imposed on all citizens to finance a project in advance of the commencement or completion of the project.
“This new tax further means that St. Lucian citizens who travel abroad will now pay the highest taxes in the region for the right to travel.
“When the new airport development tax is added, the total taxes to be paid by St. Lucians will now be EC$212.07 (US$78.54),” he said, adding that the new tax comes at a time when St. Lucians have been forced to pay exorbitant prices for fuel, a new security tax, vehicle license fees, and claim reduced deductions on mortgages and home repairs.”
Anthony, who will lead the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) into the next general election scheduled for later this year, said his organisation “is aware that St. Lucians are required to pay for the airport in advance because the investors are nervous about the safety of their investments in the airport.
“The St. Lucia Labour Party believes that a sane and caring government would give priority to the reconstruction of the island’s battered infrastructure, ahead of the start of the next hurricane season less than a month from now; instead of imposing additional stress on citizens still traumatised by the ravages of Hurricane Tomas.”
Anthony said the SLP would use all lawful means at its disposal to protect the interests of the population.
“It advises those now negotiating contracts with the Government, that any agreements or arrangements made that are not acceptable to the SLP, and with which the SLP has publicly stated and voiced its dissatisfaction and rejection; will certainly come up for policy and legal review,” Anthony said. (CMC)