With just over $300 million dollars in taxes owed to the government, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is promising to get tougher on tax evaders in the country.
PM Gonsalves made this clear at a media conference on Tuesday at cabinet room where he revealed that for the just concluded 2017 financial year, the base tax was just over $177-million dollars, penalties over $26-million and interest of over $97-million.
The Prime Minister said that at an interest rate of one and a half percent per month, taxes owed would continue to mount and would harshly affect the economy if not addressed.
The former finance minister also expressed serious disappointment that a total of over $68-million in VAT is owed to the government. The Prime Minister said this is a blatant disregard for persons paying VAT, as these monies should be paid to the state.
PM Gonsalves said he would get “vigorous” on tax collection, and this is not because the government is strapped for cash.
Taking the opportunity to wish the nation what he termed as a “happy, productive and peaceful 2018” Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves called on vincentians to work smart.
Making several announcements including the visit by the Taiwanese Foreign Minister on February 1st and the budget date set for February 5th, PM Gonsalves, also disclosed that the concession on barrels would be extended to January 15th.
As it relates to the budget, Dr. Gonsalves said the final report should be ready by January 29th to be ready for parliamentary debate on February 5th.
With a current account surplus of $11-million dollars and overall deficit of $29-million dollars, which is $10-million more than last year, the leader of this country said although there were more revenue and grants in 2017 than in 2016, there had also been more spending.