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The popular ABST-reduction weekend that has been a favourite among consumers and merchants for years will not be implemented this year.
According to reports in Pointe Express, the move designed to spur business for merchants and provide relief in consumer prices has been done away with this year.
It seems that the government is seeking ways to raise revenue to help it meet its monthly obligations, and this decision was made in light of that.
The sources further reveal that the government’s topmost concern is the payment of salaries and wages for December, which is usually paid around the middle of the month to facilitate public workers taking advantage of the discounted prices associated with the ABST reduction.
Unfortunately, this year, that will not be the case. But wait, there’s more. The government has agreed to raise the salaries and wages of public sector workers further in the new year.
This increase will be added to the five percent increase granted earlier. The government has agreed to a 14 percent increase, five percent of which has been granted.
However, the remaining nine percent may be implemented over time. Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Gaston Browne, has been hinting over the past several weeks that there are likely to be adjustments in the country’s tax structure as the government seeks to place itself in a better position to meet mounting obligations.
He has also suggested that there is likely to be a slight increase in the rate of the ABST, the country’s most reliable form of taxation. According to the prime minister, Antigua and Barbuda’s tax to GDP ratio is the lowest in the OECS.
International finance institutions have advised the country to raise the rate to about 20 percent of GDP.
It is currently closer to 16 percent. All of this and more will be revealed when the prime minister presents the country’s 2024 National Budget on December 14. Stay tuned for updates.