Howard’s Marine is the country’s main dealer in outboard engines. (IWN photo)

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has accused the Ralph Gonsalves government of withdrawing duty-free concessions on outboard engines sold by Howard’s Marine because of a petition in the United States involving Doug Howard, brother of owner of the company, Keith Howard.

Eustace said on his radio programme this week that without the concession, fishermen will pay more for outboard engines, and therefore the price of fish might increase.

He further said that he believes that it was because of the petition that police officers from the drug squad raided Howard’s Marine last week.

Doug was among US-based Vincentians who petitioned organisers of the April 19, 2014 International Forum “Revitalizing the Reparations Movement” at Chicago State University to withdraw Gonsalves’ invitation to be the featured speaker at the event.

“His (Keith Howard) brother (Doug Howard) was very outspoken on that matter. But that is his right. There is too much coincidence in that. I believe the two things are related. We have to stop this nonsense here,” Eustace said of the developments at Howard Marine and the petition in the United States.

Drafters of the petition said it was their “considered view, backed up by the evidence of our own personal experiences, that Dr. Gonsalves is eminently unsuitable to lead this noble charge for justice for atrocities and crimes committed against people of African descent by the former slave-masters and plantation-owners of the Caribbean.

“Dr. Gonsalves is not the man you want to be a standard bearer under your banner,” the petition further stated.

Gonsalves did not attend the conference, saying his doctor ordered him to rest because he injured his ankle when he slipped in his bathroom, and a cut he had to the sole of his foot became infected.

Eustace noted that Howard’s Marine, which has been in business for over 30 years, is the main importer of outboard engines used by Vincentian fishermen.

The former prime minister and minister of finance added that the law on the value added tax exempts outboard engines.

However, Eustace said, when Keith Howard went last week Tuesday to clear engines that he had imported for fishermen, he was told that he has to pay import duty and tax because he doesn’t have concession.

“That is a concession given by governments years ago,” he said, adding that it is also included in the value added tax law. “That’s in an effort to promote agriculture and our food security and so forth…

“So when they tell him all of a sudden that you are not a concessionaire, that’s nonsense, foolishness,” Eustace said.

He said that because the company had to pay duty on the engines, the price of a 75 horsepower engine will increase from EC$16,000 to EC$18,400; 30 horsepower will move from EC$7,800 to EC$8,900, and 15 horsepower from EC$6,600 to EC$7,590.

“If the fisherman has to pay these kind of price increases on his engine, the price of fish is going to go up.”

“These increases are not acceptable. We have fish going at $9 a pound. It will go up,” Eustace said.

He further added that development agencies would have to give larger, but fewer loans to fishermen.

Eustace further said that officers from the Narcotics Unit raided Howard’s Marine last week Tuesday without producing a warrant.

“And they are telling the staff, ‘When we get anything we will tell you.’  They are supposed to have a search warrant, unless the person gives permission to come in. But that’s the kind of nonsense that is happening here. …

“So you gone to raid his business, send the Drugs Squad to raid his business, and the same day, you tell him to pay duty and VAT. What is this a witch-hunt?

“Nobody is concerned about what the price is going to be to the fisherman and therefore the price of fish for all our people,” Eustace said.

8 replies on “Fears of fish price hike as concession is denied to engine dealer”

  1. …”Eustace said, when Keith Howard went last week Tuesday to clear engines that he had imported for fishermen, he was told that he has to pay import duty and tax because he doesn’t have concession…Eustace further said that officers from the Narcotics Unit raided Howard’s Marine last week Tuesday without producing a warrant”. Kenton can you verify that as such? Are Arnhim words sufficient to warrant these as fact? We are yet to hear from Keith Howard.

  2. The leader of the opposition need to stop picking up little fights here and there for political mileage. There is more to this story and the facts will come out sooner or later. Why did the NDP leader drag out the case against the former staffer only to succumb to the pressures of the people to pay the poor woman her severance? Time for this leader to stop picking small fights where the facts are not 100% accurate.

  3. I always remember that story the Prime Minister said about his brother, and that he stone them with coconut. This is the same kind of behavior we have here now. He waited until he was in a position of advantage when he was high above them and was in a position of advantage and pelt them with coconut.

    Well the financial complex is no coconut tree but it sure is a high place to fling thing down on people from. That’s why the man flinging all kinda thing dung on Vincentians, they fling down bigger biggs with attacks and up to now he can’t recover. The teachers and port workers all got coconut fling from the financial complex 4th floor. Donkey say the world no level.

  4. Errol Smith says:

    Mr Prime Minister every rope has an end and what you did to Mr Howard is not a surprise to many of us out here, you are the most vindictive Prime minister to rule this land..the evil that men do lives after them, take warning.

  5. ” Kenton can you verify that as such? Are Arnhim words sufficient to warrant these as fact? We are yet to hear from Keith Howard.”

    Has the Commissioner Of Police either denied the raid or furnish a warrant to the press ?

    Has the Comptroller Of Customs present documentation to the press showing his statement to be incorrect?

    There are public servants and therefore accountable to the people, Keith Howard is not, his concerns have been aired through others, that is good enough. Let’s prove him wrong.

  6. Junior, you call this a little fight when it affects the fishing industry throughout the island. If the leader of the NDP doesn’t speak out, who else will? There is nothing political, except for the actions of the government, if the allegations are true. Other folks are afraid to speak out, because of retribution by this mongoose government. The increase affects the fisher men/women and not Howard. The consumer will also be affected when the price of fish increases. So whose getting screwed here – the consumer?
    Fisher men/women and farmers are creators of job opportunities to many Vincentians. So when there are actions like this alleged behavior, it stifles job creating opportunities for Vincentians. This government cannot create the badly needed jobs, except those of the military type (more mongoose, police men and bigger jails). No business can expand under this dictatorial government. Business people without a ULP card know their efforts will be blocked every step of the way.
    These things only happen in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela and Libya, where dictators and Al-Qaida influences flourish. Ralph has friends in all these places, which is why Canada, the US and UK clamped down on Vincentians travelling to those countries.

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