Labour representative in the Upper House of Parliament Senator Raymond Roberts is suspicious that the amendment to the petrol tax is another tax on the backs of Grenadians who are already financially strained under the two year old New National Party (NNP) administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Sen. Roberts charged that the Mitchell government is yet to deliver “on the big promises of 2013,” and he suspects that being cash-strapped the regime has to look for money quickly to save face.
“I hope this amendment will not be used as another means of putting taxes on the backs of our already over burdened population,” he said.
Speculation is rife in certain quarters that the Mitchell administration is looking at using the increased revenue from the tinkering of the Petrol tax to get counterpart funds to start a number of stalled capital projects on the island.
The labour representative warned that there is so much the workers of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique can take in terms of taxes.
He noted that in just two years in office, the NNP government has implemented 20 new taxes, as well as brought about increases in a number of user fees, and others.
“Workers… are worse off today than in any other period during the last 20 years,” Roberts told the Senate as Government Senators tried to scoff at him.
The TUC representative said the Labour Movement on the island would like to recommend that if government intends to use the amendment to the Petroleum tax as a means of raising more money, the criteria to be used be published so that consumers are aware of the merit and demerit of the implications.
Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Simon Stiell indicated that there is only a limited number of areas for government to generate revenue which he said calls for some difficult decisions “during these hard economic times.”
Sen. Stiell stressed that the taxes on fuel are a form of revenue generation for governments all around the world.
He said that in Grenada the monies generated from the tax on the sale of petroleum contribute to the maintenance of roads and schools, and other infrastructural activities and for use on government’s safety net programmes.
The price of oil on the world market has plummeted significantly in the past year from as high as US$150 a barrel to a current price of under US$45.
Previously, each gallon of petrol imported into Grenada for local consumption was taxed at $3.00.
The amendment to the petroleum tax provides for the Minister of Finance to amend the quantum of the tax rate per gallon of the petrol in place of the tax of $3.00 per gallon.
In addition to the amendment, the “Minister” may approve the domestic price per gallon of petrol which shall be the equivalent of tax paid together with an average over four consecutive weeks in the CIF (Cost Insurance Freight), plus the wholesale and retail margins.