PM: Many getting rich by not paying taxes

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Gaston ABLP

Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who is also the country’s Finance Minister, has levelled a serious charge against many businesses and individuals in the country, who he said have devised multiple schemes to rob the government of taxes that are due.

Speaking on the Browne and Browne radio programme on Saturday, PM Browne said there are many who have been ‘playing fast and loose’ with government taxes for many years. He said the law provides that anyone or entity importing anything into the country must pay import and other duties.

However, according to the prime minister, many have engaged in a variety of schemes to avoid paying taxes altogether or to pay much less than is really due.

“These people literally smuggle goods into the country because they under-estimate or under invoice the true value of the imported items. As an example, when they import high-end goods, they often only list the value of those items of much lower value and in the process deprive government of what is legitimately due,” he explained.

According to PM Browne, the practice of tax avoidance is quite widespread as it also includes several hotels.

“What they do is they remit less than what they receive from the travel agents. So, when the fifteen per cent ABST is calculated it is done on a smaller amount,” he further explained.

But the finance minister warned that this high rate of tax evasion must come to an end as it is not fair that some in the society are benefitting by not paying their fair share of taxes while the government, on the other hand, is unable to meet its obligations, including paying many of the small contractors who provide a range of services.

He noted that already Antigua and Barbuda pays the lowest tax rate as a percentage of GDP. He disclosed that Antigua and Barbuda pays at a rate of seventeen per cent, while in some islands they pay as much as twenty-seven per cent of GDP. He stated that the government aims to raise the rate of tax collection without introducing any additional taxes.

According to the prime minister, this is the rationale behind the announcement that the government is considering applying the ABST on all online purchases to ensure that the correct taxes are paid on such purchases.

“This system will ensure full compliance of payment of fifteen per cent on online purchases. This is a situation for a fair and equitable tax system in which the government gets its fair share.”

He warned that should the tax evasion continue then the government will have much difficulty meeting its obligations such as salaries, wages and pensions in the future.

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33 COMMENTS

  1. When the government decided to pay its taxes to the people maybe then we shall do the same. This is just a bunch of ignorance because the pockets of your party is feeling the pressure? What happen to all concessions you give to investors are they not taxed? Give me a break with this administration. The poor will stay poor and newly rich will join the riches.

  2. To this day a proper scheme hasn’t been in place to see/hear how you are going to provide some sort of stimulus for the affected people and business. It’s the governments job to take care of its people. But business’ are closing and people on the streets begging, and up now there has been no sort of compensation. This administration constantly clamps down on its people for money. Then the money is squandered and we have to sit and wonder in all of these troubled times. Where is all the investment monies and CIP ( passport selling) revenue? The country is suffering and this administration cars about it filling their pockets. FIX UP

  3. well it is time that the government put out baylift to collect all these money and if those people refuse take them to court. there are also security firm taking out taxes from people money and not paying it to the scheme .this people must realize thats how the government make their money to pay the workers.

  4. Mr. PM, if you are so much of the view that people should pay their fair share of taxes, why don’t you tell them that when they come to your office to get duty free waivers?? Contrary to the narrative you are trying to push, it is YOUR EXCEEDINGLY lax duty free policy why the government is losing revenue.

    The PM and Minister of Finance (Gaston Browne) continues to rob the government of its revenue daily by granting duty free concessions wildly, no conscious for the aforementioned issues. Duty free here, Duty free there, no ABST, RRC, Import duty NOTHING paid. Then to absolve himself from blame, he creates a boogie man who has the ability to forge his signature and grant waivers in the tune of millions.

    The P.M and Minister of Finance is the personification of a dichotomy of leadership. Although he vehemently opposes of cheating the government revenue to get rich, he DIRECTLY contributes to the same by his asinine tax waiver policy. ABLP style of leadership of late seems to favor solving all other proxy issues except the main one.

  5. The simple response to this article regarding people falsely listing imported items to reduce the tax is because they can, with very little repercussions or negative consequences if they’re caught. Most other international ports are so tight on their imports because it generates the government Monday!!
    The government complaining is just showing how lazy the port authority must be…
    Its in the governments interest to clearly identify imported items and apply the relevant tax. Don’t just ask the people to do better, tighten up on your staff!

    • Amazing how this man and other ministers don’t pay taxes or bills so they don’t know what it feels like for the ordinary man to do what they must to survive. But any way Antigua get the government it deserve

  6. The speaker seems well versed on this protracted scheme. This behavior seems learnt. It’s a scheme that has been passed on from generation to generation irregardless of affiliation. I here a lot of confidence and know how of how this wanton theft is carried out. A lot of bravado! Is it the kettle calling the pot black? Inquiring minds want to know!

  7. Many getting rich by not paying taxes.Who are the many of which you speak? Are you going off the rail in your Red Communist Uniform.If you have the facts on persons evading their tax responsibilities. Give those information to the Internal Revenue Department.Let them go after them.You have a way of coming on the air waves and running of the mouth.You would say the Customs Officers are stealing.They are working in concert with business owners.Some are on the payroll of business owners.Now you are accusing many of of not paying taxes.I wondered what you would be coming with next.We should change the name of Antigua to Gaston Land or Brownesville.LOL

  8. I won’t name any names but here’s a hint – he has a really stupid looking mustache

  9. The Nation have created #LOOPHOLES, as wide as the Sargasso Sea over the years with their tax policies, incentives etc for the foreign sharks to swim through unrestricted(Data Tan, Yida, Sandals, Bodog, the Serians, the Lebanese, the Brothels, CIP etc) into Our territorial waters to feast as they like.
    Now that the food/monies have dried up, need to be replenished as the sharks are still swimming around our waters with little to no restrictions, the GOVERNMENT is trying to lynch the poor by throwing a #LOOPHOLE, the size of a HANGMANS NOOSE over the Tamarind Tree on Bethesda’s main road for PUBLIC LYNCHINGS AND HANGINGS.

    Use the Sargassum weed inundating Our shores to clog those loopholes being used by the sharks to control their free movements, and burn the #HANGMAN noose hanging on the tamarind tree to set POOR PEOPLE FREE.

  10. Dawg, you have one big fat nerve! You tell people not to pay taxes, and even had people who were not in the tax bracket complaining that the UPP was killing them with taxes.
    You got elected on that BIG FAT LIE. Now persons do not have jobs and you’re not creating any except for the chinese and the arabs, and you’re bawling out poor black people for not paying taxes that you told them they only have to pay when UPP in power.Did you think taxes were only for the UPP treasury?
    God works in mysterious ways. Covid was sent especially to handle you in Antigua.
    I know you have this country under a funny curious spell and people don’t seem to be able to fight your chupitness. But one day, one day, and then………

  11. Every administration complain about Tax Evasions and there are laws already passed to address such. Why not ENFORCE them? On the other hand……..What is the difference between politicians/ministers having companies overpricing goods and services to government/agencies (Statutory Corporations) and receiving kick backs and those people who are evading taxes? Country still being fleeced of its finances. Plug that hole first before you plug the others. Bunch ah wicked set ah people!

  12. In the last 7 years. Antiguans and Barbudans have become poorer and poorest.In that same time those Cabinet Members have become very rich,filthy rich.How did both situations happen in such a short time?

  13. I would suggest that before the PM inflicts more hardship on the struggling population he needs to clean up the corruption in the government/politician/civil service backyard and make some sort of attempt to relieve the burden of the out of control costs of giving free utilities, phone and internet etc. along with the two term full pension. I dread to think what the figure is on a monthly basis and has to be a huge drain on the treasury cash flow. On the campaign trail the politicians and wannabees all spout how they care so much about the people and just want to make life better for them. Most of us are aware that on winning a seat the air conditioners etc. arrive and the high living at our expense begins. These freebees are beyond ridiculous and I am of the opinion that a good portion of we the people do not want to pay for this crap. In most cases after the win and the ensconced in the high living (paid for by us) is in full swing the representatives tend to become missing in action in the constituency unless there happens to be some high pay off/rip off project which is touted to be of great benefit to that area.
    This tax evasion campaign also begs the question as to how much taxes and duties are being paid by the Chinese building a hideous reinforced bomb spy shelter called an embassy on their free land with their free imported labour. So Antigua people must pay, pay and pay while the Chinese destroy and take over this island and pay nothing into the treasury. WAKE UP ANTIGUA!

  14. Here is a question for the prime minister. You and all your ministers and high paying people in your government and elsewhere make over $100,000 per year. How much have all of you paid in personal income tax? You know why you discontinued personal income tax and shifted the burden on the poor through sales tax. Your strategy was to make you guys richer.

  15. Talking to the Man in the mirror?
    Some people learn from their masters and the master is upset when the students learn the scheme. How Hypocritical.

    Thou shalt not steal but their hands are first in the cookie jar

    Where are the findings for the forge signature?

    Who are the ones that give duty free to the wealthy?who? Then complain about lost revenue

    When the lies are exposed the liar blames instead of taking responsibility ,throwing all kind of people under the bus so he could look perfect.

    Mr. Perfection that never done wrong

    Pride and deception equal to a great fall

  16. How did the Prime Minister get so rich? Certainly he did not get rich from nof paying taxes. He pays his taxes. He got rotten rich from getting land in the National Park in English Harbour and selling a fraction of that land for huge profits. He also got rich from renting his properties to government. He also got rich from trucks and heavy duty equipment working for the government through his son’s mother. Paying his taxes is peanuts given his riches.

  17. Everybody a thief, at least those who have access to government assets. Not paying taxes is a small part of the dishonest culture and the ripping off of the government.

  18. The problem in Antigua and Barbuda not being able to collect their rightful amount of taxes is the fault of the government hiring policies. Over the years I have made the claim that the most important government departments The IRD, Treasury and Custom are staffed with unqulified persons. The IMF try helping and that is why we got a Qualified Comptroller of Custom. The Treasury is not staffed with qualified accountants for ages. Only lately one qualified Accountant was hired. The reason why qualified professionals cannot be hired is because they offer very low salaries for this position. I mean more then 50% lower than in the private sector for a professional accounting for that amount of money. A normal salary for a qualified accountant in a financial institution is EC$15000 per month. And that is at the low end. At the high end it is $27000 p/m. And when you try to safe a dime you are in the meantime losing millions in revenue. I have looked at the books of NAMCO and National Housing and I can tell you buy just one look that they are not prepared by a qualified accountant. Although NH has recently hired a qualified accountant, the work is somewhat over his head. This fate is common through all the government agencies. Lack of professionals and certified and qualified people, due to low salaries offered. Even the Ofice of the Director of Audit need more qualified and certified accountants in order to do proper audits.
    I hope one day that this government will see the wisdom of attracking qualified people to safeguard their revenues. And remember you get what you pay for. And the private sector have smarter and more qualified persons than yours.

    • @From The Sidelines…
      Plain and simple, if our Government hires individuals who are qualified into those accounting and auditing positions, 1735 would be overflowing with politicians and their henchfolks, therefore #SquarePegs(unqualified individuals) with sides and azz larger than the diameter of the circle(position to be filled) are placed in authority, to help screwing poor people over, and over!

    • Would we ever see the day when the government hires qualified people and pay them more than the politicians are making? The government talks about taxes not being paid but do they have qualified auditors to go out and audit the books of the businesses ? The problem in Antigua is a lot of people don’t pay their taxes, and connected ones don’t have to pay as they can always call their politicians.
      Who do we blame for free for all that is endemic in Antigua?

      • The problem in Antigua is not just about qualified persons. We do have lots of qualified persons in Antigua and Barbuda. But they do not want to pay the kind of salaries that is in the privatye sector. So the smart accountants are hired in the privae sector and they are skillful enough to present IRD with accounts that cannot really be questioned.
        But don’t fool yourself. We have just withness in the great United States that a President is able to hide his taxes from th lawmakers for fear of what they may find. And teh USA with its very sophisticated system could not and have not been able to do anything agianst that. So if this is possible in the big USA let alone in small Antigua where we are so interrelated. Everyone knows everyone on a personal relationship. Be it family or friend and company. Reason why some large companies prefer to be audited by an audit firm outside of Antigua. You also have that problem in other Islands and they oftend send Antiguan Auditors overseas to audit their books. That is what happens in small societies. Perhpas IRD should bring in outsiders to do the audit of local high risk compamies. Perhaps they should colaborate with IRD’s from other Islands and have an exchange of staff. And they should have a bonus clause attached to it. Some years ago Asot brought in Indian Auditors to Audit the books from his enemies the Syrian businesses. He was very successeful, but it was done out of spite. And that I do notagree with

    • That is an open book. He told his whole life story before its written. Go to his FB page if you want to know

  19. Dictator and Traitor Gaston is talking about himself and his band of traitors.

    Creative Enrichment Scheme.

    Where are Nigel Christian’s killers?

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