There are signs that the series of measures to be implemented by the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government as part of its Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) have been leaked out from the Ministry of Finance
THE NEW TODAY newspaper has in its possession a confidential letter sent by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine to his senior staffers alluding to leaks about the programme.
The country has been abuzz with talk in recent days about some of the increased taxes to be introduced by the nine-month old New National Party (NNP) government of of Prime Minister Mitchell as part of its soon-to-be unveiled home grown Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to deal with the financial and economic crisis facing the country.
The discussions have shifted from the lowering of the income tax threshold from those earning above $5000.00 a month to persons who fall in the $3000.00 a month category.
Speculation is rife that a series of user fees including the transfer tax on the sale of motor vehicles would be significantly increased by the Mitchell government as part of the new measures to be implemented to get the “blessings” of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the programme.
A team from the fund was due on the island this week for further discussions with government and private sector officials as well as members of the Civil Society Groups on SAP as the Mitchell government tries to meet its deadline to sign off on the “Letter of Intent” with the Washington institution by month-end.
It is the draft letter and the leaks that has irked PS Antoine to dispatch his strongly-worded letter to his staffers.
Following is the full text of the letter:
When I debriefed you after my return from Washington DC, I did emphasise the issue of strict confidentiality in respect of the Home-grown Programme.
I am now extremely concerned about apparent leaks on the home-grown programme coming from our Ministry.
May I remind all of us that the Letter of Intent has not yet been finalized and neither the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance or the Cabinet has signed off on the Programme.
Indeed, it is unfortunate that some aspects of the draft Programme are in the public domain while we as a Ministry are still “number crunching”, taking feedback and yet to make our final recommendations.
Colleagues, we must act professionally at all times.
This is not a time to “show off” inside knowledge. This is a time for serious technical work. We must listen carefully to comments on the Programme; do our analysis; and give sound advice through the proper channels. An example of this approach is what we did with “Understanding Your Income Tax”, last week.
If you have questions or concerns about the Programme or have suggestions, please send them to me.
Thanks for your support.