While the value added tax (VAT) has been rushed through the Consultative Forum and the Advisory Council and passed into law, the Turks and Caicos Independent Business Council (TCIBC) continues to fight its implementation. The law is due to go into effect at the beginning of the next fiscal year, April 1, 2013.
No sooner had the VAT bill been signed into law by acting governor Patrick Boyle on the previous Thursday than TCIBC called an open meeting on the following (last) Tuesday, July 24, to discuss why the law is not appropriate for the Turks and Caicos Islands. Detractors also took out a full page advertisement in local newspapers to promote the meeting.
Chairman of the council, attorney Clive Stanbrook QC, then had a follow up press conference last Thursday, to discuss how islanders can band together to fight VAT.
Stanbrook said that he will take the issue to Britain’s Secretary of State. Stanbrook is the former law partner of Ariel Misick and the law firm of Misick and Stanbrook. He is a British national and a local businessman. He is one of the principals of the largest grocery supermarket in the TCI.
Stanbrook claims that the law was rushed through despite there being no reason for its immediate passage, except to avoid the parliamentary process that would take place after an elected government takes office in November this year.
Governor Ric Todd has said that VAT was recommended by "experts" and is the right method of taxation for TCI. However the current budget passed in May this year, about one month late, predicts a balanced budget without VAT. There is, however, wide concern that, once again, the budget goals will not be met.
This has been the case beginning in 2005 and became a bigger problem after the National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP) began in April 2010, when payments on the $125 million hospital mortgage and payments to healthcare contractor InterHealth Canada began. The cost of NHIP now absorbs 40 % of the government’s income. The 800-page contract with InterHealth Canada has not been made public but was made available for viewing for a very short period during former Governor Gordon Wetherell’s term. Wetherell signed the NHIP into law.
It appears that only the interim government and the Progressive National Party (PNP), which set up and negotiated the system, have copies of the contract. Government CEO Patrick Boyle has said that the current leader of the PNP, Dr Rufus Ewing, was central in the creation of the budget-breaking plan. The Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has not been furnished with copies of the contract. The party is calling for InterHealth Canada to be "sent home"