The United Progressive Party (UPP) condemns the Gaston Browne Administration as heartless and cowardly announcement that there will be no ABST-reduction weekend this Christmas Season. That decision is unconscionable 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.
The UPP 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.
Therefore, to abruptly remove it without consulting the buying public or the businesses they patronise, 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 orchestrated. To add insult to injury, Government spokesman Lionel 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.
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 publicto support such action when it is called.