IMF hired by TCI Gov’t; VAT seems to be a top choice for new tax
By Denadrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, April 15, 2022 – Representatives of the International Monetary Fund, IMF are in country on an invitation by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to conduct a study on the current tax regime, hired to determine, says the Minister of Finance, how TCI can improve its tax earnings.
E Jay Saunders, Minister of Finance, Investment and Trade and Deputy Premier informed our news organization this past Sunday, the goal is a tax regime which is “progressive, sustainable, predictable and simple to administer.”
While there is no highlighting of VAT by the Finance Minister in his comments to us, it has become a blazing headline as the notion, rejected by Turks and Caicos in the last PNP Administration, continues to be an option.
The Finance minister in response to our question on whether the government is again wooing the idea of Value Added Tax, explained: “in terms of government revenue, we’re not looking at any specific area as yet.”
There have been a number of meetings with stakeholders and in this round of work, media is not included.
What will come of those session, is a report with recommendations, which could include that VAT.
Hon Saunders said since Government commissioned the study, it will be up to “us, if and how we want to move forward with the recommendations. All we’ve done at this moment, he shared, is commissioned a study of our tax system. Right now we’ve taken no position on taxes.”
In a statement from the Turks and Caicos Islands Chamber of Commerce on April 7, there was focus on the possibility of introducing a broad based tax, like VAT informed Daniel Le Vin, 1st Vice President of the Chamber.
The Chamber makes it clear that it does not support the introduction of VAT. No broad based tax is supported by the Chamber of Commerce including income or corporation tax. In fact, the Chamber explains VAT would be “bad” for the TCI because it would be so very costly and complex to administer; the Chamber feels it would be a negative blow to small business because of what it would take to administer a VAT tax.
The Chamber also expressed that not at all is a the TCI a low tax jurisdiction. Stating this: “the tax burden is relatively high within a regime which works reasonably well…”
The suggestion by the Chamber, improve on the efficiencies of the current systems.
Another suggestion, since almost everything is imported, continue the customs duty and raise taxes on other areas like accommodation tax and stamp duty.
Supplied to the IMF team by the Chamber of Commerce said LeVin that: “The Chamber cautions against any significant changes which might increase the overall tax burden and cost of living or doing business in the TCI or create administrative difficulties.”
Millions to come from FSC
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Revenue from the Turks and Caicos’ Financial Services Sector will more than double in the next few years, if E Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister gets his way. It ‘s one of the reasons the country is investing so much capital into getting off of the EU blacklist and becoming a secure trustworthy financial destination.
“The FSC’s revenues for 2020/21 was $10.5M— the figures for 2021/22, would be about similar,” he said. He further explained that $10.5 million from the FSC represented about 2.6 percent of the country’s 408.5-million-dollar revenue. Though it increased to $14 million in the 2021/22 financial year, finance is still a small fry compared to tourism or even stamp duties but that will change, says Saunders.
“My revenue goal for the Government by the year 2029 [or] the election after the next election – is $500M. By that time, I want the financial sector (FSC) revenues to represent at least 5% ($25M). So that’s my goal for the financial sector by 2029.”
This goal, should it be met, would increase the Government’s revenue by 100 million dollars, a significant increase in spending power for local upgrades and improvements for Turks and Caicos residents and visitors.
Saunders says it’s time for the TCI to diversify its sources of revenue to make sure that what happened in the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw residents out of a job for months, will not happen again. Tourism now makes up around 80 percent of the country’s GDP. The Minister of Finance wants to push that down to 60 or even 50 percent.
Debrief on Haiti Caribbean heads visit
#Haiti, March 17, 2023 – When a CARICOM delegation visited Haiti earlier this month, conspicuously absent was the Turks and Caicos Islands despite being one of the nations most directly affected by the multi-dimensional crisis there. There is no comment, as yet from the Premier, to say why this was the case.
Still, from the expedition, CARICOM heads of Government have informed that there will be lobbying in Africa for assistance in Haiti. They say they have decided that the best course of action for the Caribbean country is to bolster the Haitian National Police and act as intermediaries with Africa and the world. The decision follows a one day visit on February 27th, and a March 5th meeting chaired by the Bahamas.
CARICOM says during the trip delegates ‘met with a broad range of Haitian stakeholders to hear their views on the way forward to a Haitian-led solution’. With that in mind it has made a decision on how to proceed.
“The Heads of Government agreed to support the Haitian National Police in their efforts to address the security situation. The focus of the Community will be the provision of training for the HNP and the provision of humanitarian assistance to HNP and the wider Haitian society, taking into account the challenging humanitarian and security situation”
It’s not clear yet where and how this training will take place. Also distinctly absent from the report, no more mention of boots on the ground from other countries despite CARICOM Member States indicating they were ready and willing should it come to that.
In addition, recognizing ‘the common historical experiences and the strong African-Caribbean relationship’ CARICOM says,
“Heads of Government also agreed to seek support from African countries for Haiti. They also agreed to work with the Governments of Canada and the United States as well as the UNDP”
Magnetic Media has reached out to the Premier’s Office to get a full debrief of the February 27th visit (led by Jamaica; including The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago) to learn of Turks and Caicos’ posture following the critical sessions.
New ASHLEY’S LEARNING CENTRE CONCERT
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Musicians from the New World Symphony will be in the Turks and Caicos in concert next month and residents are invited to attend in support of the future of Ashley’s Learning Center.
A fairly young orchestral academy based in Miami, the New World Symphony was launched in the 1980s by 1987, Michael Tilson Thomas and Ted Arison,Carnival Cruises founder. From the 1500 applicants who vie for a spot each year, the symphony accepts around 35 music graduates annually for training fellowships.
A select few of those graduates will be in country on April 8th headlining at the Ashley’s Learning Center concert ‘We’re all in this together’. The concert which also feature local artistes will be held at Brayton Hall on Venetian Road from 6 pm to 8:30 pm
Tickets are available ON ISLEHELP $75 PER GENERAL SEAT $125 PER PREMIUM SEAT $195 PER GALLERY SEAT – with /FREFRESHMENTS.
For TICKET RESERVATIONs you can call: 649-341-2304 or email EVENTS@ASHLEYSLEARNINGCENTER.ORG
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