he Antigua and Barbuda government says it wants to retain a windfall tax that had been implemented a few years ago as a means of boosting the development of the recently established Five Islands campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI). CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that his administration is now considering extending the life of the windfall tax, which had lasted only a couple of years.
“What we are seeking to do here is seeking to extend the life of the 10 per cent windfall tax to fund the operations of the University of the West Indies Five Islands (campus),” Browne told legislators, adding that “this is a tax we had envisaged prior to COVID-19 and we would have done it for three years initially and would have expired and we are now extending it to 2024.”
“I am of the firm view we should just make it indefinite because this is a very important source of revenue,” Browne said,
He noted that while it may not be politically welcome to do so, “we have to understand that the university education is important, that we have to go the extra mile to ensure that we have predictable funding (and) that there is no possibility of us defaulting.
“My recommendation…is that we remove the 2024 timeline and leave it as indefinite,” Browne said, adding that he is confident that the measure would find support from the opposition benches.
Browne went on to say that he need not emphasise how important it is to continue to invest in the people and he believes this is easily one of the most significant contributions any government would have made to the development of the people to …ensure accessibility and affordability of university education to the Antigua and Barbudan people. CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP.
The move by the government coincides with the announcement earlier this week that a team from Saudi Arabia will visit Antigua from June 21 – 25, “to examine the UWI Five Islands expansion as planned and will advance discussions with the government and UWI for a US$75 million facility”.
Browne also announced that the construction of the expanded Antigua and Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education (ABICE) is to begin in four weeks.
Browne and Education Minister Daryll Mathew returned from London last week “with a cheque for 4,000,000.00 pounds sterling to expand ABICE by building a new learning facility,” according to a statement issued following the weekly Cabinet meeting.
It said that the money was contributed by “a Mr David Harrison whose name will appear on the new building, The Harrison Center Antigua and Barbuda School of Continuing Education.”