ST. VINCENT: – The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) is expecting the Dr Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration to prescribe some bitter medicine in next year’s budget, having won Monday’s general elections.
And Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace says he will not allow the government to administer it with ease.
Eustace, an economist, told his supporters Thursday night that he is waiting to see if any new taxes will be announced when the budget is presented in January.
He said that the government cannot finance itself and has already borrowed to pay civil servants this month’s salary as well as a two per cent increase retroactive to January.
Eustace said that the NDP was afraid that with the National Commercial Bank privatised the government will “dip into” the National Insurance Services.
“I know that they don’t have the money to do the things that are needed. And I want to see where the money is going to come from,” he said.
The former prime minister and minister of finance noted that the governments of St. Kitts and Barbados have increased their Value-Added Tax (VAT).
He said “the same pressure is going to come on the Ralph Gonsalves administration to increase the VAT in this country”.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) “will be here not too long from now bringing pressure on the government of St. Vincent to take certain measures which are going to make life even harder,” Eustace said.
He said the Gonsalves administration is considering a levy that will tax both the rent and actual value of property.
“You wait and see what is going to happen in this country. And when they bring those measures before the Parliament we will be there … and we will keep the fire burning by them…
“All of you know that things are hard. Every man jack here knows that. And, that lumber and galvanize can’t feed you next week, can’t feed you next month. You still have to get food; you still have to have a government that has money and can function and prepare for you,” Eustace said.
He was referring to the building material being distributed by the government as part of the hurricane relief effort, which the NDP said was used to sway voters in the elections that the ULP won by one seat.
The NDP, having increased its stakes in the Parliament from three to seven seats, will bring pressure on the government, hoping to forcing it to return to the polls.
“…as we move into the Parliament in January, I want to make sure that you are fully behind us because very often we are going to call you to stand up outside that Parliament when we are dealing with the administration of Ralph Gonsalves.
“We are not going to let them have any chance. … One year from now, we want to be back at the polls because we believe that we have the talent on this side here to deal with all the issues that confront the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Eustace said.
He further said that NDP legislators were more experienced and better able to deal with budgetary matter.
He added that the opposition legislators will not be as liberal with the rule that prohibits parliamentarians from reading during debates.
“If you read, we are going to call the point of order right away and you must sit down if you can’t deliver your speech without reading. We have been kind and gentle with those things but we are not going to allow it in this new Parliament that we are going to face here in January,” Eustace said.
Eustace further said that his party has “looked at the cheating that took place in this election”, saying that voters were moved among constituencies, even as he said there were names of 20,000 deceased persons on the voters list.
“The important thing is that you the people of the New Democratic Party, you are standing firm. That’s very important for us,” he said.
He said Vincentians could “depend on the New Democratic Party to offer you a brighter future in this country of ours; a future full of promise, of prosperity, and of goodness and kindness to all our fellowmen,” adding, “The New Democratic Party will bring you to the promised land.