Above: the Turks and Caicos House of Assembly
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Acting Turks and Caicos Islands Governor Patrick Boyle has signed the territory’s VAT Bill into law.
The controversial measure followed last week’s vote at a Consultative Forum, during which five members voted in favour of the bill and five abstained.
The VAT will be implemented in the Turks and Caicos Islands beginning April 1, 2013.
“I hope that everyone who took part in this debate can put their differences of opinion behind them to help make the implementation of VAT as successful as possible,” Boyle said. “VAT implementation here is about providing our essential public services with a more predictable, regular and stable cash flow. If we can harness the energy and creativity of TCI’s businesses, I am sure that we can be successful together.”
There will be reportedly be exemptions to the tax, including on gas/propane used for lighting, bulk building materials like sand and aggregates, and a group of essential items still to be defined over the next eight weeks.
The effective rate to be charged will be 11 percent, the second-lowest VAT rate in the Caribbean to Haiti, according to the government.
Another Caribbean country, St Lucia, will be implementing its VAT in September.
The proposed bill met strong opposition from the Turks and Caicos Independent Business Council, which had criticized the government for in its view having “no consultation as to whether the VAT should be implemented.”
The council, which said 3,000 people had signed a petition against the tax, had charged that the bill had been “strong-armed” through the TCI’s Advisory Council.
“VAT is not being relied upon for more money,” Clive Stanbrook, QC, chairman of the TCIBC, said earlier this week. “It beggars belief that this administration is so flagrantly trying to usurp and pre-empt the functions of the upcoming government elect.”
Elections are scheduled in the territory for Nov. 9.