PM Browne: ‘If a tax is needed, it will be done’

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By Carlena Knight

Residents have put on alert to the possibility that new taxes could be brought on stream, if necessary, to fund the University of the West Indies (UWI) Five Islands Campus.

This is according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne who, in his address, at the ceremonial opening of the fourth landed campus on Tuesday, noted that if needs be a tax will be implemented.

This is in addition to the 10 percent windfall tax that is already in place, for highly profitable enterprises such as financial institutions, insurance companies, telecommunications companies, and the West Indies Oil Company and is expected to raise EC $15 million annually to help fund the campus.

“I believe that the Five Islands campus is the only UWI campus that has a dedicated tax assigned to service its financial obligations,” the prime minister said during his address.

“And let me make it abundantly clear that if in the future there is a need to introduce further taxes to fund this University, it will be done. Political expediency could never take precedence to the development of this country.”

This is not the first time since the implementation of the windfall tax that the Prime Minister has hinted to a second tax to fund the university.

In February of this year, PM Browne first brought the idea of an additional tax where according to earlier reports from this media house, the government was contemplating adding a 1 percent increase to the Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST).

In fact, he described the proposed ABST increase as “a sacrifice that all of us will have to make to ensure that we have a university here in which we can improve the human resource in our country so that we can become more competitive.”

Meantime, Browne said that within the next few months, the government will pump a further $15 million into the Five Islands Campus.

“This will bring our first year spend to approximately $15 million; that’s the extent of our commitment. Thereafter, we will continue to expand the campus facilities into one of the finest in this hemisphere and beyond.

“As I said before, this shows the level of my government’s commitment that you can depend on the reliability of our words. We do not make idle promises we say what we mean and mean what we say,” Browne stated.

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