St Lucia Mulls Tax Reform

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - April 25, 2012

Above: St Lucia Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy (Photo: GIS)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

St Lucia’s government is committed to ensuring greater tax equitability, and a better forecast of incoming government revenue, according to Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy.

The Governor General was delivering the Throne Speech at the commencement of the second session of St Lucia’s 10th Parliament Tuesday.

According to Louisy, the burden of taxation has not been shared by all stakeholders in St Lucia’s national development, leading to what she called an “unfair” tax system.

“Our modes of doing business, particularly with respect to public sector financing, have not kept apace with the changes in the global economic activity and rules,” she said. “Furthermore, our economy itself has shifted away from taxation based primarily on incomes and the import of goods, and we find ourselves with but a small portion of individuals and corporations actually paying anything at all on their incomes after deductions.”

St Lucia is currently in the process of implementing a new Value Added Tax, which will go into effect in September.

“We must now find a better way to ensure that the growing services components of our economy support our tax base, while in fact providing a better balance in the prices of goods consumed,” she said.

Louisy called tax reform “critical” if St Lucia is to benefit from improvements in the global economy, and said the government welcomed “widespread public interest and debate” on the new VAT.

“Though the storm of economic uncertainty still lingers globally, my government is keeping calm and will approach these changes with care, diligence and certainty of purpose,” she said. “We do not want to have a depressed nation. My government will not agree to any measure that would be too onerous, too burdensome or unreasonable for our people.”

The Governor General warned that democracy without equity is unsustainable.

The Throne Speech is a tradition marking the official commencement to St Lucia’s annual National Budget Presentation and debate.

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