Returning Nationals may feel the squeeze

A portion of the rug might be pulled from underneath the feet of returning nationals who enjoy concessions from government.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Keith Mitchell has disclosed that consideration is being given by his one-year old administration to cut back on the amount of concessions given to nationals returning home with the assets they obtained while living abroad.

The Prime Minister who made the announcement while addressing a weekly post-Cabinet press briefing last week Tuesday said that in a “home-grown program” everybody has to make some scarifies.

At the start of the year, the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Mitchell introduced a three year Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in an effort to address fiscal weaknesses in the ailing economy.

Dr. Mitchell told reporters that, “in a time of difficulties, we can’t ask one set of people to make sacrifice, everyone of us ought to be making sacrifice”.

Government announced its intention to make adjustments to the concessions given to St. George’s University (SGU) and the Grenada Electricity Services Limited (GRENLEC).

Statutory bodies were also put on notice that they too should expect to receive less concessions from the State.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine who also addressed the press briefing, while not able to give specific details of the cut backs in concessions to returning nationals, said the general idea is to tighten up on concessions.

Antoine disclosed that last year alone the Customs Department gave away $131M in concessions.

“I will suggest that you’re looking at about a 50% reduction as an average,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary further disclosed that the first two months of the SAP netted approximately $1M in income tax for government.

As part of the austerity measures under the SAP, government reduced the income tax threshold from $60,000 per annum to $36,000 to bring in more persons into the tax net.

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