By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
DEPUTY Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday the Minnis administration intends to begin making good on its tax-related promises in next week’s budget presentation.
While he did not discuss specifics, Mr Turnquest said that the administration is “working very diligently” on the matter.
The Free National Movement has promised to remove value added tax (VAT) from breadbasket items and from education, electricity and health related services.
The FNM has also promised to create an Over-the-Hill tax free zone, creating a menu of concessions for businesses and residents in inner city areas, including no business license fees or real property taxes, no household furniture tax, no taxes on capital goods and business equipment and lower import duties on business vehicles.
Mr Turnquest did not say which tax reductions the government will prioritise in next week’s budget, saying he will leave that for the budget presentation.
He did say, however, that there will be “no tax increases” revealed next week, which could mean possible VAT related reductions won’t be offset by increases in customs duties or excise taxes, as an example.
The FNM’s tax promises were heavily criticised in the lead up to the May 10 election by not only prominent voices in the business community but by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well.
Experts say VAT in particular is most effective when its base is broad, with few exemptions and a rate that is low.
Chamber of Commerce President Gowon Bowe has said, for instance, that creating exemptions will prompt employers to increase the prices of their goods and services to offset operating costs.
Mr Turnquest has defended the FNM’s tax pledges, however, telling The Tribune earlier this month that they “understand how (they’re) going to do it.”
“(We) know what benefits we are seeking to achieve by doing it, and that is to cause job creation and development in the inner city.”
Mr Turnquest also said the new administration may have been “hamstrung” by the former administration in its goal to deliver a balanced budget and to deliver on all of its tax related pledges in the short term.