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Do we want more of this downward spiral?



EDITOR: I would like you to give me the pleasure of responding to “FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS” by Jane of issue Nov. 23, 2010.{{more}}

The writer speaks of two political parties in governance over the last 26 years, the NDP’s 17 years and the ULP’s 9 years. Her information is totally misleading and full of falsehoods. She wrote of taxation of which she knows and understands very little. When the NDP took office in 1984, Vincentians paid 55% in excess of $15,000.00, with a personal allowance of $1,700.00 thus anyone earning above $1,700.00 paid a progressively up to $15,000.00 and anything above that was 55%. The NDP, when they left office in 2001, the allowance was $12,000.00 with a maximum rate of 35%. The movement of one taxation allowance of $12,000.00 to $18,000.00 is not a 50% reduction in tax, the taxation system does not work that way, it is only the allowable amount then the progression steps in.

NDP removed the following taxes which was imposed by clueless Labour Party regime, 3% gross turn over tax paid by businesses; the horrible death dues i.e. taxes paid on property of the deceased left to their survivors; Customs duties, and consumption taxes from heights of 88% on commodities such as electronics, office and household furniture and many other items down to 56% and lower. Electricity and water moved from 46% island coverage to 95%. Electricity moved from load shedding of 4 – 6 hours per day to the best run electricity company in the entire Caribbean along with CWSA and the NIS as the model operations in the Caribbean and Central America. In 1995, the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital became the most baby friendly hospital in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Between 1984 and 2000, St Vincent had an average growth rate of 5%, second only to St Kitts/Nevis in the English speaking Caribbean; the World Bank report of 2000. “Little to fault, much to praise.” St Vincent’s debt to GDP ratio in 2000 was 47%, second only to St. Lucia. The East Caribbean Central Bank has this last October release a new rebasing factor to measure GDP. But the Prime Minister used new method in his 2010 budget address to make his figures look reasonable.

Despite this adjustment, our debt servicing to GDP now stands at 76%. Our national debt now stands at $1.45 billion, compared to $563 million in 2001, even though there was a debt forgiveness of $92 million on Ottley Hall. Had the new rebasing method not been used, debt to GDP would have been 93%, the current GDP as at October 2010 is $1.56239 billion.

Now, let us look at the other side, the ULP’s record, every aspect of productive sector is down since 2001; which includes Agriculture, Tourism, Manufacture and the offshore sector. Our Hospital is in shambles, we cannot provide basic drugs for our health care. Millions of dollars owed to the private sector for goods and services brought about by huge budget deficits since 2005 until now. This has placed great pressure on our National Bank resulting in the sale of the bank. Our secondary roads are in total disrepair and almost non existence of feeder roads to our farm lands. Nepotism, corruption and victimization have been the order of the day. Vincentians have to look deep within and ask, “Do we want more of this downward spiral?” ENOUGH! NO MORE!

Cleve Lewis