You can now listen to Antigua News articles!
The announcement by the Gaston Browne Administration that there will be no ABST-reduction weekend this Christmas Season has been described as heartless and cowardly by the United Progressive Party (UPP)
Condemning the decision in a statement on Friday, the UPP said it is unacceptable to make such a decision at a time when the Statistics Division has confirmed a second consecutive hike in bread and flour products, a 5.6% increase in inflation for the year ending September 2023, and a planned 2% hike in the ABST.
Additionally, the UPP said the period for importing Christmas barrels has been shortened.
The UPP said in the statement that the tradition of “giving back” to the people at Christmas time, which was started by the UPP, has been long accustomed by residents who plan their major purchases around the annual sales-tax reduction.
The business community also looks forward to this reduction, as it is the peak season for sales, especially of large items like vehicles, equipment, building supplies, and furniture, according to the party
According to the UPP, the unilateral decision by the government to abruptly remove the ABST-reduction weekend without consulting the buying public or the businesses they patronize is an abuse of the people’s trust, especially when the Minister of Finance is conveniently out of the country.
The UPP says they do not doubt that Prime Minister Gaston Browne will claim that his hands are tied by the curiously timed statements of the Comptroller of Customs Raju Boddu, but this abuse of the people’s trust was carefully orchestrated.
Government spokesman Lionel Hurst has stated that the Government will hold consultations on the ABST increase at some unspecified time, but the UPP said it is unacceptable that they will not consult with the people-first institution, the UPP, and have accused them of making mischief.
The UPP maintains that there will be consultations with THE PEOPLE, not with the Party.
The Browne Administration, according to the UPP has made a cruel act against the people’s ability to save while they spend this Christmas Season, and it is time for the people, both businesses and consumers, to take protest action in the face of such disadvantage.
The UPP again calls on the public to support such action when it is called.