Governments across the region are looking for ways to ease the financial burden their people are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the current Ukraine-Russia conflict.In Anguilla, the financial burdens are made heavier by the impending April 1st increase in fuel surcharge tax on electricity and the July 1st implementation of a Goods and Services Tax (GST) on imported goods, and on services offered on the island.Premier and Finance Minister, Dr Ellis Webster, mentioned these additional financial influencers at the government’s press briefing on Monday, March 28, but not much details were given as to the specifics of the relief measures or how they would directly impact consumers and other residents.
In addressing the issue of the fuel surcharge, Premier Webster stated: “We have said that we want to add some relief to the people of Anguilla [during these times].
“The Ministry of Finance and the Department of Customs have gotten together and are working out a way that we can reduce the effect of the fuel tax. We are making contact with the fuel suppliers.
“I know that fuel costs have gone up, and ANGLEC is making mitigations for that. We have not required ANGLEC to pay the 7% Environmental Levy to the government. It expires at the end of this month [April] and are willing to sit down and discuss whether it is necessary to extend that.”Premier Webster indicated that the government would also address the cost of groceries. “We are also looking at how we can reduce the impact of the rising cost of food,” he noted.
“In terms of the GST, when we met the GST as it was written – previous budgeting had a rate of 17.5% [for GST]. We have worked along with the IMF Cartec to get the rate at 13% – one of the lowest in the region.
“We have done 0% rate GST on essential foods. We have put in a 0% rate for the first 130 kilowatts of electricity and have exempted fishing, farming and manufacturing from the GST.
“We have also made it so that we are looking out for the most vulnerable – we have exempted certain parts of education and healthcare services. Service charge is also exempt from GST.”
Premier Webster spoke further on the issue of the GST. He said: “In talking with the public, IRD, businesses and persons on the street, we have found ways to soften the impact of GST [with the] understanding that we do need a broad-based tax and tax reform. We needed to be sure that we had a more predictable revenue – the intent of the GST.”