Spokesperson for the United Progressive Party (UPP) Joanne Massiah has confirmed that if the UPP wins the forthcoming general elections it will continue Personal Income Tax (PIT). The UPP hopeful hinted that indeed the UPP might increase the level and scope of income taxes to capture even more classes of workers and scale of earnings.
Massiah was responding to an unprecedented media statement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that strongly criticised the UPP government saying that the country’s “fiscal situation is unstable” and that the “macroeconomic performance has deteriorated in the months following the Stand-by Arrangement with the Fund”.
The IMF was particularly critical of the UPP government’s spending in recent months and tax exemptions. The increased spending, tax exemptions and duty-free give-aways are part of the UPP’s strategy of using taxpayer’s money to secure votes in the now overdue general elections. The Directors of the IMF stated quite baldly and in undiplomatic language that “the recent increase in current expenditure should be reversed and transfer to sate-owned enterprises reduced”. One of the state-owned enterprises into which the UPP regime has been putting money is the Antigua and Barbuda Radio and Television Broadcasting Service that the government has been using for blatant UPP propaganda and electioneering purposes.
These abuses by the UPP regime that, according to the IMF, has “widened the fiscal deficit substantially” has alarmed the Directors causing them to initiate a “post-program monitoring” especially as the monies lent to the UPP government is “500 per cent of quota”.
In the wake of the IMF statement, Massiah, returned to the UPP position that the government can only get increased revenues by more taxation of the people. She declared, “You pay off debt with money. If it is that you are going to be taking out taxes immediately out of your economy, from whence will these monies come?”
The UPP candidate, who failed to be elected in the 2009 elections and who has now switched the constituency in which she will be running, did not address the White Paper issued by ABLP Leader, Gaston Browne, in which he demonstrated that UPP income taxes now deprives people of $40 million annually that they could use for spending on goods and services that would stimulate the economy that has been contracting for the last five years. She also neglected to the deal with the Opposition Leader’s analysis that showed more revenue would flow from increased savings, investment spending by people whose income taxes would be put back in their pockets.
Massiah also did not explain the $4 billion debt that has been accumulated by the UPP in its 10 years in office. Her principal argument is that personal income taxes on the people are necessary to pay down the massive debt.