UPP says public must demand consultation before any increase in ABST or other tax hike is allowed

The Leadership of the United Progressive Party (UPP) is dissatisfied
with the manner in which Prime Minister Gaston Browne has
chosen to introduce the notion of an increase in the Antigua
Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST).

In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, November 14, the
Party says it can only describe as “offhand” the manner in which
Prime Minister Browne has indicated that a tax hike – possibly by as
much as 2% – is likely.

“Given that the 2024 Budget Presentation is to be delivered in less
than a month, the UPP believes that national consultations on this
subject must be held with stakeholders – especially with the paying
public,” the statement reads.

“It cannot be right for the Administration to make a decision with
such serious financial implications unilaterally – especially at this
time when so many workers and their families are unable to make
ends meet.”

The UPP continues: “In the midst of high unemployment and under-
employment, the solution to the Administration’s self-inflicted
wounds – its excessive borrowings; inability to pay suppliers;
overdue backpay and outstanding salary increases; and dozens of
stillborn projects – cannot be simply to raise taxes without the
benefit of consultation.

“The UPP therefore calls on all tax-paying residents – both personal
and corporate – as well as the trade unions and trade bodies to join
with the Party in holding this Administration accountable and
demanding that no taxes be increased without wide-ranging

The statement concludes with a warning: “Any failure by the Prime
Minister and his Administration to collaborate on this and any tax-
increase measure will lead to the UPP’s call for mass protest action.”