Mr Hugh McGarel Groves
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Turks and Caicos Government
Dear Mr CFO:
Re: Please seriously consider and implement price control in these islands
It was has been said to whom much is given that much is expected. In this way, Mr CFO, you have been cast with enormous power and responsibility. Your job is to see that the books are balanced, the new minister prepares the budget and you approve. There is so much to do before “we get there”.
Yet before the interim government “had to get here” there are a number of things that irk us and have been making our lives harder. That is the stevedoring deal at South Dock Providenciales causing consumer prices to increase some four times. Now there is the InterHealth deal, the National Health Insurance deal and many other inflationary deals. The interim government has so far increased our taxes, increased the payments to NHIP by a further 1 percent and is paying some $60 million annually to InterHealth Canada. All of this even before the interim government with gas tax was inflationary.
Next is the agenda to change the burden and incidence of taxation by shifting the burden of taxation off developers, tourists, visitors, land sales, customs duties and onto the backs of the wider population as a whole with a newer tax. There are plans to remove a number of taxes, though not all, such as the communications tax and a few customs duties. There seems no commitment to remove the stevedoring deal at South Dock Providenciales or the inter health Deal. Yet our payments and taxes are increased to pay for these to date.
We are paying over $6 dollars a gallon for gasoline and 75 cents goes to the government. The shift in taxation move, mentioned earlier, is being accomplished by value added tax (VAT), which may be 15 percent or 17 percent. You expect that, with the removal of customs and a few taxes to be replaced by VAT, prices may go down. You have been met with cries from the public that people want price control to force prices downward to the extent of the removal in taxes. Many fear that merchants will increase their prices, cause inflation and there will be more suffering.
Mr CFO, please seriously consider and implement price control in these islands. We need laws enforced that would give you the power to maintain a consumer price index and to monitor prices. Please abandon the free market economy notion because that cannot work here. We need relief all over. You must control prices. Finally, sir, please review the 17.5 percent rate of return on Fortis prices. You are collecting revenue in good times but the consumer is hurting. We need relief. The whole PPC and Fortis deal requires review and the monopoly with that 17.5 percent over our heads removed.
The answer is price control so that inflation cannot be artificial or manufactured. In The Bahamas, the Consumer Prices Commission has the power to go in stores, monitor prices, shut the place down and close shelves if price controls are not adhered to. The TCI needs the same here.