Vincentians will have to dig deeper into their pockets to buy several foodstuff items including package rice, chicken, lentil, butter, pigeon peas, yeast and baking powder following new taxes announced by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in his 2016 budget recently.
Other increases are a two percent levy on mobile telephone calls and on international calls, salt, property tax on commercial buildings, driver’s licenses, and gun licenses.
The telephone tax, which will generate EC$2.7 million will be paid directly to the Zero Hunger Trust Fund, in accordance with a specific statue law, Gonsalves, who is also finance minister told Parliament when he presented the EC$912 million budget.
He said the Trust Fund will support the multifaceted efforts needed to eliminate hunger in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and establish a model approach that can be replicated across the Caribbean
The prime minister said the list of VAT exemption in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is much wider than in other developing, small island states.
Gonsalves also announced increases in excise tax on beverages including beer, malts, stouts, wines of fresh grapes, brandy, whiskey and vodka.
He said these measures will take effect from May 1, 2016. He told Parliament that the revenue yield from the increase taxation is expected to be EC$8 million annually.
It is not known whether the parliamentary opposition members will debate the budget, as they again stayed away from last Monday’s sitting in continued protest of the results of the Dec. 9, general election, which they claim was stolen.