“So far so good”.
Those were the words uttered by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Timothy Antoine as he responded to a question on collections from the increased Income Tax regime implemented by the one-year old Keith Mitchell-led administration.
PS Antoine was seated among a battery of five government ministers including Prime Minister Mitchell to brief the local media on the situation with government’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).
He told reporters that government has collected some $1.5 million, an increase of $EC.5 million since the lowering of the Income Tax threshold three months ago.
Antoine said that records collected for the first two months of 2014 show that both the Customs Department and the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) met their financial targets.
However he warned that there is significantly more work to be done by both departments particularly IRD with regards to collecting the1 Income Tax.
The Permanent Secretary said they are not deceived into believing that everyone who should be paying taxes are doing so.
“We know that is not true”, said Antoine who is a key player in negotiations with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) on financing for SAP.
The top official in the Ministry of Finance announced that a decision was taken to start this month a major awareness drive by IRD on collection of the tax.
According to Antoine, a team from the department was dispatched to Carriacou this week and that throughout the rest of the month,
the Comptroller of Inland Revenue and staffers will be going throughout the country to educate and inform people about the role of IRD and the importance of paying taxes.
He also said that the Public Relations team within IRD has been strengthened to conduct outreach programmes and to engage citizens on what they need to be doing, how to do it , as well as educate them on paying taxes.
In addition, he said that in the next few months, mechanisms would be introduced to keep the public updated on how much money is collected on a monthly basis.
Minister for Economic Development, Trade, Planning and Cooperatives, Oliver Joseph who also made brief remarks at the press briefing pointed out that more revenue would be collected by the State from measures still to come on stream.
He said that some of the announced SAP measures have not “kicked-in” as yet and in the case of the Property Tax, the demand notices were only recently sent out so collection from this increases should be seen by June.
The Mitchell government announced a doubling of the property tax rate in the 2014 budget, as well as sizeable increases in fees for government services like inspection fees for Motor Vehicles and Transfer of Ownership names.