By Carl Joseph
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Jamale Pringle is disputing Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s budget declaration regarding Antigua and Barbuda’s per capita GDP.
“Why is it that only a quarter of the working population was eligible to pay personal income tax when the exemption for personal income tax falls under a $3,500 bracket?” questioned Pringle.
Pringle referenced the guidelines under the now-abolished personal income tax (PIT) which affected less than 40 per cent of the working population at the time earning $3,500 per month and above.
Further, less than 8 percent of employees in the year of the PIT’s removal – 2016 – earned more than $5,000 per month.
In his budget presentation last week, the PM quoted a 2019 UN Human Development Report that said the country has the second highest human development index among the ECCU countries.
According to the reports, GDP per capita has risen from US$2,000 at the time of independence to almost US$20,000 today. The latter figure converts to approximately EC$54,000 a year or EC$4,500 per month.
In his presentation, the PM, who is also Finance Minister, said that Antigua and Barbuda, “Now stood as a high-income country in the world’s ranking, and the people’s average income is among the highest in the western hemisphere.”
But, Pringle said, “The significant growth, the [PM] speaks about is not reflected in the way most of the population lives.”
The PM “cannot just come here and throw words around that have no meaning to them,” Pringle asserted.
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