The main opposition National Democratic Congress NDC has criticised the decision of the cash-strapped government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to place more financial burdens on the backs of Grenadians.
The party’s new political leader, former Finance Minister, Nazim Burke took a shot at the recent Ministerial Order issued on February 21 and published in the Government Gazette to increase from 5% to 6% the Customs Service Charge (CSC) on imported goods.
The move is seen as a further attempt by government to show the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it was taking steps to address the critical fiscal situation facing the country.
According to Burke, this increase will affect all goods including food items, basic medicines, and toiletries, clothing and building material among others.
“We condemn as callous, we condemn it as dangerously self-centered, we condemn it as myopic,” he told a weekly radio programme run by Congress.
The NDC Political Leader stated that importers of goods in the country will not absorb the tax but pass it onto consumers in the form of higher prices.
He charged that Dr. Mitchell has no regard for the poor, vulnerable, and the unemployed because the people of Grenada are already over taxed.
Burke noted that the increase in the CSC comes on the heels of a package of measures that is already introduced by the one-year old government when in opposition had criticised Congress for over-taxing the population.
He referred to the increased taxes introduced by the Mitchell-led government since winning the February 2013 general elections.
“The government has imposed within the last 12 months personal income taxes on all persons earning between $3000 and $5000 monthly, and this is 15% on their taxes… they have doubled property taxes of all home owners and land owners… they have increase the drivers licenses renewal fees, they have increase vehicle registration fee, they have increased the vehicle owner transfer fees, they have increase embarkation tax…”, he said.
“…They (NNP) have failed to reconstitute the Public Utilities Commission as a result of which we have experienced an increase in the rate of electricity starting on February 1. They have also amended the Electricity Supplies Act so as to impose a 50% duty on all fuel, lubricates, all spare parts that are imported by GRENLEC (Grenada Electricity Services Limited) to generate electricity which result in yet another increase in electricity charges,” he added.
Burke also took a further swipe at government for removing some of the social safety nets the NDC government had in place before the electorate voted it out.
He mentioned in particular the free schoolbooks program, the free barrel Christmas programme and the refund given to students who would have passed eight CXC subjects or more.
According to Burke, the increase in the customs service charge only means more pressure is being brought upon the backs of the ordinary Grenadian person.
The NDC Political Leader indicated that this latest move on the part of the Mitchell regime confirms his party’s earlier pronouncement that the worst is yet to come.