Hours after community activist, Shez Dore-Tyson, questioned the absence of religious tolerance in setting the two VAT days on Saturdays, the government quickly changed one of the dates to a Friday.
“So the 2 VAT days are on Saturdays. There are 7 days in a week, yet someone without any consideration for sabbath worshippers put the 2 VAT days on Saturdays. I guess this is another way of showing no tolerance for this demographic. What else should we expect next? The Sunday law invoked? Thanks THUG,” said Shez-Dore in a FaceBook posting.
Dore-Tyson’s posting was made in the early morning hours of Tuesday November 5, following Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris’ announcement at his news conference on Monday November 4, that Saturdays December 14 and 21 have been set as the VAT days for 2019.
In a Tuesday 5 November statement, the Office from Government Headquarters attempted to distance prime minister Harris from his Monday press conference announcement by stating that in arriving at the decision to implement the annual Discounted VAT Rate (DVR) initiative on both Saturday 14th and Saturday 21st, December, 2019, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis and, in particular, the Financial Secretary (Ministry of Finance) confirmed the two dates with the full input and agreement of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
“However, upon further consideration today, the Cabinet has agreed, after taking into account the beliefs and traditions of the devout and diverse religious community in St. Kitts and Nevis, that the first of the two announced Discounted VAT Rate dates will be changed from Saturday 14th, December to Friday 13th, December 2019 The second date, Saturday 21st December, remains the same,” said the government in a new statement on Tuesday.
No VAT and Reduced VAT Days were introduced by the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) administration of then Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L Douglas after the introduction of the new tax system that replaced 12 other taxes.
The record shows that since taking office in 2015, Dr Harris has reduced the traditional two VAT days that he met to one day only in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
“This year they (Team Unity) will revert to the two VAT Days in December, as had been done by the previous Labour Administration.