Government has decided to exempt NIS pension from taxes, according to Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Addressing reporters at a recent post-Cabinet press briefing, Dr. Mitchell said that the Cabinet took the decision since the issue of paying taxes on pension is not going down well with citizens.
The President of the Grenada Trade Union Council (GTUC), Madonna Harford, a pensioner herself, has been championing the battle being waged by trade unions on the island for a reversal of the government policy.
According to Prime Minister Mitchell, his one-year old government wants to put this issue to final rest.
“What has been said is that if someone has worked with government and he is getting a pension from government or the private sector from his institution and he/she would also have contributed to the NIS and they will be getting an NIS pension, the two sums are added and then if you passed the threshold of what your income tax limit entails, you have to start to pay,” he said.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that this formula is done in most countries but his administration out of an understanding that retired people and pensioners have in fact given their service and that their pension is something that means a lot to them, has decided not to go down that road.
“While we accept the fact that the country has a significant responsibility to help all its citizens in the country and particularly those who are unemployed and that’s why we need all the resources possible, we’ve decided still to exempt NIS pension from taxes,” he added.
Dr. Mitchell assured pensioners that they should no longer worry about paying taxes on their pensions.
The Grenadian leader also told reporters that his government was optimistic that the measures taken so far in implementing the homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) will bring tremendous benefits in dealing with the fiscal deficit.
He said the programme is already getting critical support from the Washington-based World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), European Union, Canada, and Germany among others.
Prime Minister Mitchell noted that his government had been implementing the necessary austerity measures and expected the lending agencies and donor countries to fulfill their promise to assist the SAP.
“We expect to see that if we are meeting our side of the bargain, we expect that they soon will meet their side of the bargain, which is to provide their level of support to make sure that we can meet the commitments of our population and to do the things that we have to do to ease up the pain that now exist outside there.
“We make it clear that we don’t try to pretend like some people that we don’t know that there are problems outside there, a lot of people are hurting outside there and we know that we have to do a lot more to ease the pain to bring further developments and opportunities to the wide cross section as a whole.
“While government has a responsibility to meet its targets in the programme and what it is doing (in) the country at this stage, we are soliciting and giving the go ahead to our partners to join with us into ensuring that the programme is in fact meeting and doing what it has to do and to monitor what government is doing on a consistent and regular basis.
The Prime Minister stated that a monitoring committee has been agreed upon by Government and the Social Partners in the country to ensure that the programme meets its targets and objectives.