IMPORT DUTY ON VEHICLES & PARTS REDUCED AGAIN CM: “Anguilla is In Crisis”
The Anguilla Government has reduced the Customs Duty on the importation of vehicles and parts into the island for the second time. A motion to that effect was tabled in the House of Assembly on Tuesday this week by Chief Minister and Minister of Finance, Hubert Hughes.
Mr. Hughes recalled that when the Customs Duty was increased by an extra ten percent, plus a surcharge from one to five percent, last year, to help balance the budget, it resulted in persons being unable to import vehicles at the higher cost. Consequently, Government ended up with much less revenue, but when the duty was later reduced for a three-month period, more vehicles were imported and it was possible for more money to enter the Treasury.
“We have to again try the measure we tried at the end of the year, by reducing the duty on motor vehicles by fifty percent, to see whether it can encourage more people…to bring in more vehicles and give the Treasury some new revenue,” the Chief Minister told the House of Assembly.
He said Anguilla was in crisis and there was a need to address such questions as what was happening toAnguilla’s economy and why. And that, with some exceptions, the tourist industry was not performing. He stated that there was a need to activate the construction industry to help boost the economy.
Mr. Hughes stressed that there was no activity in the economy and that the reduction in import duty on vehicles was aimed at stimulating it. He said that last year’s reduction induty had brought about much success in terms of Government’s revenue and more imports of vehicles.
Opposition Member, Othlyn Vanterpool, noted that when the customs import duty on vehicles was at 25 percent with 1 percent surcharge, vehicles were steadily being imported and revenue was entering the Treasury. He believed that the increase of 10% on the duty and another 5% on the customs surcharge were rather high.
Mr. Vanterpool emphasised that he supported the reduction of duty to benefit all persons inAnguilla, but wanted to see the justification and how the matter would be monitored to ensure there was no abuse. “Madam, Speaker, I have a problem with the process, not the fact that we are reducing the duties on the vehicles,” he stated. “Madam Speaker, coming in here, at any ad hoc time, to remove the duties down and then put them back in place – that process, as I see it, can be viewed as being open to abuse. I would not want anyone in the public to accuse the members of Government or this House of abusing that privilege. That’s why I have a concern with it.”
Opposition Leader, McNiel Rogers, contended that since the Chief Minister and Minister of Finance said that the reduction in the import duty was aimed at stimulating economic activity, there was a need for the public to be told how the economy had performed last year. “Madam Speaker, what was the performance during the first three months in which the duty was reduced? he asked. “How do we measure success?”
Adviser to the Chief Minister, Jerome Roberts, replied that the information was available at the Ministry of Finance. He said the purpose of the motion was to reduce the burden on the people ofAnguillaimporting vehicles, and to improve revenue collection at the same time. He pointed out that the motion provided for the reduction of import duty to cover a period of six months, expiring October 11, 2012. He reported that during the first three-month period, late last year, the reduction of import duty on vehicles and parts had resulted as follows: Before the reduction 150 vehicles were imported; after the reduction, 212 vehicles were imported; revenue collections following the reduction were $1,267,000.92; before the reduction, $2,198,442.07 was collected.
Following contributions to the debate by other representatives of Government, the motion was passed by the House.