Finance minister Washington Misick is apparently still undecided about what new or increased taxes he will impose and what he will retreat from. After submitting a budget months late, which was based on a series of new taxes, the minister then empanelled what he called a “Blue Ribbon Commission” to make recommendations.
Now it seems that public consultations are next on the minister’s agenda, with many islanders saying the minister has his plan backwards and he needed to do the consultations first. However, islanders are by and large disappointed with the long list of new taxes being imposed in an attempt to balance the budget.
Within the last few days another 1.5% hike has been announced in the customs duty service fee, which is actually a surcharge on all imported items, including food stuffs. The new surcharge will now be 7.5% on top of the regular duty and shipping and insurance costs. In fact G and G Shipping, which carries most freight, has recently increased its hazardous materials certification charge from $60 to $85. Hazardous materials include all paints and thinners including water based types. Also included are fuel, rubbing alcohol and perfumes of all types.
This will have the effect of raising the cost of living the additional 1.5%.or 7.5% total. Misick has attempted to calm flaring tempers by reminding residents that the tax will not be felt until all existing inventories are exhausted. However, sources near the port report that inbound shipments have fallen off in the last year, so inventories are expected to be at a low point and merchants are expected to raise prices immediately to cover their new costs.
The most seriously affected merchants are the small businesses.
The new higher tax regime is being implemented to service the loan taken out to pay off bills left over by previous elected governments. However, the most serious budget problem the country faces is the greatly increased cost of health care and the exceptionally high hospital mortgage. The current mortgage and health care contract are due to last another 20-plus years.