Dwyer Astaphan to PM Harris: “What is going on with our taxes?”

By:Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 14, 2017 – St. Kitts and Nevis is collecting less taxes in 2017 under the Timothy Harris Team Unity Government than in 2008 under the Denzil Douglas Labour Party administration.

The startling figures have been disclosed by Dwyer Astaphan, who helped put together the three-party coalition comprising the People’s Labour Party (PLP), the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) and the Peoples Action Movement (PAM).

Astaphan wants to know why millions of dollars more went into the Treasury in 2008 than in 2016 and 2017 from drivers’ licences, bank licences, corporate income tax and hotel and room tax.

Speaking on his weekly programme “the Operating Room,” Astaphan disclosed that EC$350,000 was collected from bank licenses in 2008 and zero dollars in 2016 and zero dollars up to October 2017.

“Corporate income tax collected in 2008 amounted to EC$84 million. In 2015, EC$61 million was collected and up to the time reporting for this year (October 2017), EC$46 million have been collected. If the economy is expanding, how come the Timothy Harris Team Unity administration is collecting less corporation tax?” he asked.

“In 2008, when there were less drivers in St. Kitts, the government collected EC$830,000 in drivers’ licences. In 2017, when there are many more cars on the road, the government has to date collected EC$612,000, that is about EC$220,000 less, when there are more drivers in St. Kitts,” said the talk show host, who further asked: “What is going on?”

“I would like to know who all are getting duty free cars and why? I would like to know what the policy is. I would like to know what the revenue losses are as a result of all these duty-free cars?” asked Astaphan, amidst widespread public concern that the Treasury is millions and millions of dollars poorer as a result of duty-free concessions granted to family members, friends, selected supporters and newly established companies by Harris family members.

Astaphan also pointed out that in 2008, some EC$3.5 million was collected in hotel and room tax. Collection to date in 2017 stood at just EC$730,000.

He said the country needs to be told and slammed Prime Minister Harris for not fulfilling promises of Freedom of Information legislation within 100 days of taking office.

“Freedom of Information is not a privilege for us. It is a constitutional right, but we do not get the information,” said Astaphan.

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