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The way that Prime Minister Gaston Browne has suggested increasing the Antigua Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST) has left the United Progressive Party (UPP) leaders unhappy.
The Prime Minister has hinted that the tax could be raised by as much as 2% in a seemingly casual manner.
The UPP believes that before making any decisions that could have such a significant impact financially, national consultations with stakeholders, especially the public who will be paying the tax, must be held.
The UPP says given the current situation where many workers and their families are struggling to make ends meet, it is not appropriate for the government to make unilateral decisions.
Furthermore, they said the government cannot simply increase taxes without consulting with the public, especially during a time of high unemployment and underemployment.
The government’s excessive borrowing, inability to pay suppliers, overdue backpay and outstanding salary increases, and numerous failed projects cannot be resolved by raising taxes without seeking input from those who will be affected.
The UPP is, therefore, urging all tax-paying residents, including individuals and corporations, as well as trade unions and trade organizations, to join the party in holding the government accountable and demanding that they do not increase taxes without wide-ranging consultations.
They said if the Prime Minister and his administration fail to cooperate on this or any tax increase measure, the UPP will call for mass protests.