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St Lucians paying VAT by April

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

St Lucians paying VAT by April

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CASTRIES, St. Lucia — St Lucians will begin paying Value Added Tax (VAT) from April next year, irrespective of which political party wins the general elections, expected before the end of the year.
Both Prime Minister Stephenson King and leader of the main opposition St Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Dr. Kenny Anthony have announced plans to introduce VAT at the start of the 2012/13 financial year. 
The exact amount of the VAT has not been disclosed, but the two leaders, who participated in the just concluded debate on the national budget, have agreed that the implementation of the Vat is long overdue.
In 2003, the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), which includes St. Lucia  took the decision to implement the VAT throughout the sub-region as part of a wider regional tax reform initiative. 
The decision was based on the recommendations of an ECCB-appointed Tax Reform Commission.
Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis and Grenada have already implemented the VAT.
“St. Lucia is therefore one of the last remaining countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union that has not yet adopted the VAT. I wish to reaffirm the commitment of this Government to its implementation by April 2012, mindful of the socio-economic responsibilities of government,” King said in a statement.
He said VAT is designed to streamline the tax system and is not intended to be an additional tax, adding that it will make tax administration more efficient by eliminating nuisance taxes.
“The government has taken every care, by instituting appropriate safeguards, to ensure that the VAT will not unduly affect the poor.  
“The government will continue to engage stakeholders including the Opposition, in the period leading to the implementation of the VAT,” he added.
In a recent statement, Anthony, who has initially campaigned against the implementation of VAT, said that he has had a change of heart.
“There is a general consensus and understanding that it is incumbent upon any administration charged with the fiscal management of this country, to proceed with the implementation of VAT as part of wider tax reform,” Anthony noted. (CMC)