PM mulls tax increase to fund UWI campus

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Government is contemplating a one percent increase to the Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST) to help fund the planned fourth landed campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), expected to be based predominantly at Five Islands.

In making the announcement on his radio station, Pointe FM, on the weekend, Prime Minister Gaston Browne described the proposed 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.”

Earlier this year, Browne said his government plans to introduce a 10 percent windfall tax – targeting highly profitable enterprises such as financial institutions, insurance companies, telecommunications companies, and the West Indies Oil Company – which is expected to raise EC $15 million annually to help fund the campus.

However, on Saturday he told the nation that if the windfall tax failed to raise enough revenue to operate the tertiary institution, he would consider increasing the ABST.

“The issue is about making sure we have sufficient money to pay good quality faculty and to deal with the other various costs involved in running a university,” the prime minister said.

The fourth landed campus of UWI is an important element of the government’s developmental strategy and Browne urged residents to see it as such.

“We cannot take the position that we cannot afford it. We must afford the fourth landed campus because it is the fulcrum on which we will develop the human resources of this country, to make sure that we improve national productivity and at the same time to increase our global competitiveness,” he said

The Five Islands campus of the University of the West Indies is expected to officially open by September this year. Other UWI campuses are located at Mona in Jamaica, Saint Augustine in Trinidad and Cave Hill in Barbados.

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