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Missing Cookies – and GST Crumbs on their Chins! – The Anguillian Newspaper – The Weekly Independent Paper of Anguilla

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by Ms Melinda Goddard, MBA

On July 1st, we all awoke to realise we were missing 13% of our cookies, and when we looked around – all the children had crumbs all over their faces! Hmm. Time to ask questions, and yet – when each was asked, they all blamed the others!
Turns out. Clues to the 13% tax are all there – in the 2013 Budget – with lots of crumbs to follow that trail! Let’s get a big, wet face cloth and start wiping off those chins, one child at a time, starting in 2019.

“They Were Clutching 17% of the Cookies!”
Well, if we can clear our heads from feeling so hungry, we can recall chasing one batch of children out of the kitchen in the last election. Why? They were salivating to get into that jar and snatch 17% more of our cookies! Out. Shoo! We all wanted some new children to help save cookies and promise not to pinch them, especially after five years of having them chewed up in the night, at the port as duties – pretending to simplify all that confusion, mixing fuel import licences into our gas tanks and current bills, whipping up property and then accommodation taxes, taxing the lotteries, and then having the sass to stand right there at the kitchen door and declare they’d be back for more before our heads hit the pillows. Crumbs were all over their lips – and their 2019 Budget!

Then, the New Children Gobbled up 13% of the Cookies the First Chance They Got!
When some new children came along and polished the apple and looked so smart at the front of the class, we were relieved as soon as they won the school popularity contest. We thought those cookies were safe, at last.
But… No sooner did we try to get back to baking than they hopped into shiny new wagons and rushed to that kitchen. They brought two of their toughest friends to plan the cookie heist and keep us all off guard, smiling and acting like maybe they would get smart and cap the jar. Then, it came. That fateful night of July 1st – awakening to see crumbs all over their mouths, giving lip service to how bagging all those cookies would feed the whole family, when only they got to eat. We went into sugar shock that very day.

“They Started It!” Cried the Ones We Ran out of the House
Still, one can’t wipe away the tears of the ones sent home after all their binges, crying, “They started it!” When we turned back to the teacher’s pets and lifted up their chins to look for crumbs, sure enough! Page 215 of their daddy’s budget revealed a massive morsel entitled, “Project Name: Tax Reform”! The project Status was “Ongoing” – and it described “VAT” as…
“… a broad based consumption tax assessed and charged as a percentage of prices of all goods and services that are bought and sold for use or consumption…” We already had them, especially Customs Duties and fees, blended into all goods and services consumed long before GST – which is the same as VAT, in case you were a bit late to class in 2013.
It continued: “The VAT Implementation Project is aimed at implementing a Value Added Tax to address and eliminate [sic] some of the vulnerabilities and of the current tax system. VAT will ensure a steadier, more reliable stream of revenue during the various stages of the economic cycle and an increase in government revenues.” How could rolling numerous private businesses under civil and criminal penalty threats into collecting taxes while being flattened by other taxes and financial demands far beyond their control ever be “more reliable” than at Customs, where you don’t get your goodies if you don’t pay – or Inland Revenue, where they portend penalties every day, or even the three utilities/communications companies that can cut you off? (Well, unless you’re the government.) And “an increase in government revenues”? For what?
“…VAT will simplify existing cascading, complex, discriminatory, and costly indirect tax system, improve indirect tax administration, and reduce tax evasion. To date, the VAT Implementation Team has been established, technical assistance and training have taken place. A rate analysis study has been conducted, VAT Legislation drafted and a list of potential taxpayers has been compiled.” Looks like the blame for planning the cookie raid started, in fact, with the new children’s daddy, all of them speckled with crumbs on their faces.
Lip service, indeed. That project description is right out of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office cookbook for frying nations that have not lifted the blistering hot pans that systematically bake-in poverty wherever “broad based consumption taxes” like GST and VAT have burned their societies and economies. We were consumed by consumption taxes already. Surely, the plot thickened like a batter missing its butter.

But Wait – That First Daddy Blamed the Other Daddy!
On page 2 of that same 2013 Budget, the teacher’s pets’ daddy clawed deeper into the cookie jar – even as he looked away from pouring the batter in the VAT so we could bake more cookies they could devour. He addressed “the Anguilla United Front Minister of Finance and his party” saying, “While they criticise us for the ISL, they had made it clear to HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] in the Fiscal and Economic Recovery Plan, 2009-2011 that was produced during their term, a number of measures that were likely to achieve fiscal balance in 2010 and beyond. These measures included…” Yes. You get a cookie if you guessed it, “Goods and Services Tax”! Both saying the other started it!

When Caught – They All Blamed the Teacher!
With crumbs from chin to chest, they all said the teacher threatened to deprive everybody if they didn’t demand more cookies. We know better. We all saw the teacher’s pet state that the school principal told them they didn’t have to snatch cookies if they tabled alternatives. You might give the teacher a pass, but we’re pretty sure she’s the one who summoned those tough guys to help put the final cookie grab into gear. Crumbs on her mouth, too.

Wipe That 13% off Their Chins, Apologise – and Cap the Cookie Jar!
How did we get so many children with so many crumbs on their chins blaming one another for being the first to sneak cookies? They all could have capped the jar and slapped those wet, sticky hands away at any time. None did. We must call on those with courage and character (and maybe remorse?) to comprehend that choking us with GST while consuming all our cookies is unconscionable!

After wiping their chins of GST crumbs, they should apologise for ever assuming they could go from nibbling on $5 Million to shoving GST down our throats and gorging on $20 Million of our cookies every month – and expect us to happily keep baking so they could keep taking. The first ones to put these last 13% of our cookies back in the jar, drive their own red wagons, help the kids with nothing to do go start their own healthy fruit stands, and put the cap on that jar will win our next school popularity contest – and send Anguilla up to the head of the class!

Repeal GST. Now.

This article reflects cultural and economic issues raised on July 5, 2021, by Ms. Melinda Goddard, Principal of ClienTell Consulting, to the House of Assembly Select Committee on (GST) Goods and Services Tax Public Hearing. References: Budget Address (2013; pps. 2 and 215); Budget Address (2019; p. 8, Revenue Policy Assumptions)



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Anguilla

History & culture of the eastern Caribbean islands

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The Eastern Caribbean is a region that includes a number of small island nations and territories in the Caribbean Sea. These islands have a rich history and culture that have been shaped by a variety of influences, including African, Caribbean, European, and indigenous peoples.

The first inhabitants of the Eastern Caribbean were indigenous peoples who migrated to the region thousands of years ago. These people included the Arawaks, Caribs, and Tainos, who were skilled farmers, fishermen, and craftsmen.

The first European explorers to reach the Eastern Caribbean were the Spanish, who arrived in the region in the late 15th century. The Spanish claimed the islands for their own and began to establish settlements, plantations, and mines. However, they were soon challenged by the English, French, and Dutch, who also wanted to control the region.

The Eastern Caribbean became a battleground for these European powers, who fought over control of the islands for more than two centuries. The islands were eventually divided among the European powers, with the English, French, and Dutch each controlling a number of islands.

During this period, the islands became a melting pot of cultures, with African slaves brought to the region to work on the plantations, and Europeans, Africans, and indigenous peoples mixing and intermingling. This led to the development of a unique culture and identity for the Eastern Caribbean, which is still evident today.

Today, the Eastern Caribbean is a diverse and vibrant region with a rich history and culture. The islands are known for their beautiful beaches, stunning natural scenery, and vibrant music and dance traditions. The region also has a thriving tourism industry, with many visitors coming to the islands to experience the unique culture and beauty of the Eastern Caribbean.

In addition to its rich history and culture, the Eastern Caribbean is also known for its natural beauty. The islands are home to a variety of landscapes, including white sandy beaches, lush rainforests, and mountains. The region is also home to a number of protected areas and national parks, which are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including many species that are found nowhere else in the world.

The Eastern Caribbean is also an important economic region, with many of the islands relying on tourism as a major source of income. The region is also known for its production of spices, particularly nutmeg, which is one of the main exports of the region. In addition, the islands are home to a number of small-scale industries, including fishing, agriculture, and manufacturing.

The Eastern Caribbean is also a popular destination for sailors, with many of the islands offering excellent sailing conditions and a number of marinas and yacht clubs. The region is also home to a number of major sailing events, including the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and the Caribbean 600 race.

Overall, the Eastern Caribbean is a fascinating and diverse region with a rich history, culture, and natural beauty. The islands offer a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy, from relaxing on beautiful beaches to exploring the region’s vibrant culture and history.

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Anguilla

SDA Church Hosts Sunday Evening Concert with US Gospel Music Professional – The Anguillian Newspaper – The Weekly Independent Paper of Anguilla

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Orlan Johnson, Zina Johnson and Edmond Charles greeted
by Dwayniqua Proctor on arrival
Mr. Marcus Smith
Mr. Vernon Rogers

A team of gospel musicians arrived on the island this week from Washington, DC, to conduct a special concert at the Mount Fortune Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sunday evening, 24th July. The concert, dubbed “The Return”, is organized by a committee led by SDA’s Choir Director, Marcia Hodge.
The visiting team of musicians includes: Zina Johnson, the Choir Director and Psalmist; Edmond Charles, the Organist; and Marcus Smith, the Pianist. All three gospel music enthusiasts were meticulously chosen for the occasion by an ardent music leader of the church, Vernon Elrado “Rado” Rogers, a well known Anguillian who resides in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Rogers commented on his selection of the visiting musicians and expectations for Sunday evening’s event:

“The local churches Director, Marcia Hodge approached me some time ago,” he said, “asking me to assist her in organising a special musical event for the church. She wanted this to be a concert with a higher level of performance created by gospel music professionals. I sing with the Baltimore Community Choir, and I am privileged to know skilful performers in the gospel music area. So I set about selecting the best individuals with whom I am familiar.

“I think these three individuals, Zina, Edmond and Marcus, are ideal performers/ministers for what we intend to present to the public on Sunday night,” Rado remarked. “People sometimes forget that gospel music is a sermon – it is not a show. We are going to prove that on Sunday evening.

“We expect a great turnout for “The Return”, when we will reveal that gospel music is a force to reckon with, as long as it is presented with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We intend to impact the audience with a rich gospel-oriented musical experience.

The concert, “The Return”, will take place on Sunday evening at 5:00 at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mount Fortune. A love offering will be collected.



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REVENUE-GENERATION THROUGH TAXATION – The Anguillian Newspaper – The Weekly Independent Paper of Anguilla

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As the world contemplates the issue of a global recession that could have deep and lasting impacts on how we survive – even within the Caribbean region – it is imperative that we in Anguilla become very proactive. By that, we should be considering how we can take measures to cut the overall cost of running our country – Anguilla.
It seems as though government after government has ignored the need to engage in austerity measures to reduce public expenditure and creatively expand the economy. Instead, they take the easy way out and allow the ‘status quo’ to continue.

As each successive government finds it more and more challenging to manage the cost associated with running the country, the government of the day appears to seek comfort in the ‘status quo’ approach – generating new revenue through taxation.
Notably, there are significant problems that naturally lend themselves to this approach: it increases the cost of living for the people and residents of Anguilla; it makes Anguilla seem unattractive to visitors in terms of the cost to visit; and it discourages people from wanting to do business in Anguilla – all of which have a negative economic impact on the island.
In effect, the ‘status quo’ of revenue-generation primarily through taxation displaces some of our people, especially our young people who find it more and more unbearable to live in Anguilla. In order to survive or have a decent standard of living for themselves, their families and future families, they ‘throw their hands up in the air’ and migrate to the UK or to the US. When they migrate to other lands, we in Anguilla lose generations of working-class people who are not contributing to the social security scheme in Anguilla or to the economy and overall development of this country. When that happens, the country dies – its youth move away with no real prospects of ever returning home to live.
Looking at this problem wholistically, it is important that we create and actively seek out economic opportunities that attract our young people who have migrated out of Anguilla to return home, and that we retain our youth in this country within the workforce.
Whereas, the population in most of the region has grown substantially over the years, the population in Anguilla has grown very little. There was a time when Anguilla’s population outnumbered that of the BVI, of St Maarten, and of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Instead of growing, Anguilla today is experiencing an exodus of human capital, especially among our young people who are leaving Anguilla in search of better living opportunities elsewhere.

The ‘status quo’ of revenue-generation primarily through taxation makes Anguilla less attractive as a destination choice for visitors on limited budgets. Anguilla will probably always be a niche destination for high-end vacationers who tend to purchase all-inclusive vacation packages resulting in major spending profits going off island to the hotel property owners and investors.
The ‘status quo’ of revenue-generation primarily through taxation also forces would-be investors to not come to Anguilla to do business, but instead, to choose other jurisdictions that are just as appealing as Anguilla, but where the labour is cheaper, the water is cheaper and the electricity is cheaper. While Anguilla has ‘a very pretty expensive offering’ – sun, sea, and sand – it would still be ignored for other places with ‘many very pretty affordable offerings’ – sun, sea, sand, good-paying jobs, readily available goods, easy access to essential services, and affordable living, etc.
So, when we talk about austerity and finding creative ways of cutting cost in Anguilla, it is imperative that we act on it, because to not do so is having all kinds of negative impacts on our country – impacts on the population, on inward and foreign investment, on people’s quality of life and on the overall cost of living.
There have been so many missed opportunities for the governments of Anguilla to abandon the ‘status quo’ draconian mentality of entitlement, turn Anguilla around and steady her on an upward and forward trajectory.
There have been opportunities to move some of the public service workforce into the private sector workforce. There have been opportunities to address issues of redundancy, efficiency and productivity within the public service and government statutory bodies. There have been opportunities for government to reduce the size of its ground transportation fleets and cut back on its electricity and telephone usage – especially during off-peak hours.
Post Hurricane Irma Anguilla received large amounts of money from the UK Government in relief assistance and, with it, the government of the day moved with great haste to construct a number of needed buildings across the island. However, the extravagant size of those buildings comes with an increased consumption of everything needed to keep them operating. This too, adds to the cost of running the country putting more burden on a declining population.
Unless past governments, this government, and future governments, lose ‘the status quo’ and realise the need to streamline the cost of running Anguilla, it is unlikely that the cost of living in Anguilla will improve significantly. It is unlikely that the economy of Anguilla will realise much growth. It is unlikely that we will be able to attract many people to stay in Anguilla and keep its operations going year-round. It is unlikely that investors will consider Anguilla to be an appealing destination in which to invest.
The recent introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in addition to the Interim Stabilisation Tax, and all these knock-on effects, have also added to the cost of living and doing business in Anguilla. As a result, the residents, local businesses, local and foreign investors, as well as potential investors, are all suffering. The ‘status quo’ of entitlement and revenue-generation through taxation is taking Anguilla nowhere – quickly!



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