Agencies of Tax Collection must be effective, says PM Harris

Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 09, 2015 (SKNIS)—Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, is underscoring the importance of the collection of taxes by Government agencies so that the country can provide the vital social and economic services to the people.

With reference to the upcoming 2016 Budget, Prime Minister Harris says “what will be in the Budget will basically be a commitment to ensure that all resources which belong to the Government, that those accrue to the Government—and so you will find in terms of the agencies of collection, the Inland Revenue Department, the Customs Department, the Accountant General’s Department, that they will be diligently pursued to ensure that they are doing the job of collection in the most effective way.”

In order for the Government to increase revenue, the prime minister says there has to be a cut back on the number of concessions given.

“We can serve notice that the loose way in which concessions were being given in the past, in the future we will minimize the concessionary benefits that are not prescribed by a legal framework, for example, the Hotel Aids Act which stipulates clearly the range of concession so that the discretionary aspect of concessions would be brought to a mere minimum to ensure that greater inflows come into the coffers of the Government,” Prime Minister Harris said.

Dr. Harris also said that the Government will improve the mechanisms to make it easier for people to pay.

“We will ensure that we continue the systems changes, for example, the ability of people to pay online and other mechanisms that will make it easier for those who owe to pay and we will ensure that the delinquency which often can follow, that these are brought to the minimum by ensuring that by and large where it is supposed to be cash and demand, cash and demand applies where there can be a piecemeal approach to payment and appropriate systems of collections are in place so we can go and get money which is due to the Government and equally we are expecting,” he said.

“Because we are projecting growth that there is more economic activity, more expenditure—and therefore the revenue flows of the Government would be improved by that so we are expecting increased revenues and at the same time we are expecting to contain expenditure, spending prudently on the capital projects that matter for our education, our health, for our public infrastructure such as our roads et cetera while we begin to do more,” Dr. Harris added.

The prime minister expressed concern over the huge electricity bill that the Government has.

“One area, for example, in which we want to do more would be in relation to the huge electricity bill and we are now in an era in which SKELEC charges the Government for electricity, therefore we have to have conservation measures which we never did within the Government even as we implore those same conservatory measures with respect to residential properties,” the prime minister added.

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