The United Progressive Party (UPP) condemns the Gaston Browne
Administration’s heartless and cowardly announcement that there
will be no ABST-reduction weekend this Christmas Season.
The Party says that decision is unconscionable at a time like this –
when the Statistics Division has just confirmed a second consecutive
hike in bread and flour products and a 5.6% increase in inflation for
the year ending September 2023; when the Administration is
planning a 2% hike in the ABST; and when the period for importing
Christmas barrels has been shortened.
It notes that the Baldwin Spencer Administration “began this
tradition of ‘giving back’ to the people at Christmas time, and
residents have long grown accustomed to planning their major
purchases around the annual sales-tax reduction.
“The business community also looks forward to the reduction, as it
is the peak season for sales, especially of large items like vehicles,
equipment, building supplies, and furniture,” the Opposition Party
“Therefore, to abruptly remove it without consulting the buying
public or the businesses they patronize, again, is a unilateral
decision by an increasingly insensitive government. And to do so
while the Minister of Finance is conveniently out of the country is
nothing short of cowardly.
“We have little doubt that, on his return, Prime Minister Gaston
Browne will claim that his hands are tied by the curiously timed
statements of Comptroller of Customs Raju Boddu. But we have no
doubt that this abuse of the people’s trust was carefully
In a response to recent statements by Government spokesman
Lionel Hurst, the UPP says that “to add insult to injury, [Mr. Hurst]
has feebly stated that the Government will hold consultations on the
ABST increase at some unspecified time – but that it will not consult
with the UPP, whom he accuses of making mischief.
“For the record, and to expunge Mr. Hurst’s barefaced lie, the UPP
has called for consultations with THE PEOPLE since we are a people-
first institution; not with the Party.
“And, clearly, the mischief being made is with the people’s ability to
save while they spend this Christmas Season after this cruel act by
the Browne Administration.”
The Party concludes with a call for action, saying “it is time for the
people – both businesses and consumers – to take protest action in
the face of such disadvantage, and the UPP again calls on the public
to support such action when it is called.”