The government should have targeted its recent economic relief measures in areas where the public could have better felt it, Opposition Leader Marlon Penn has argued.
Speaking on the NDP radio programme last evening, Penn said measures by the government to significantly reduce import duties given rising costs, were welcome and appreciated.
However, he argued that some of this relief is unlikely to trickle down to residents who are really in need.
“We are happy that something was attempted. Sometimes you have to make sure, if you are going to forgo tax revenue, you have to make sure that that money that you’re going to forgo – and the estimation that we have come up with is between $7 to $10 million in this exercise – you have to make sure that that money is targeted to persons who can benefit, the most burdened amongst us,” Penn expressed.
According to the Opposition Leader, the government had an opportunity to target some of the relief monies towards the fuel surcharge on electricity bills.
“In the months that we know the electricity consumption goes up, you have a targeted approach to say ‘look, we are going to address the issue of fuel surcharge, cap the amount that persons are going to pay on their electricity bill for a certain period’ – you have maximum benefit. The entire public will benefit from something like that,” the Opposition Leader explained.
Penn, who is also the Eighth District Representative, further argued that government should have met with grocers and food producers in the BVI to develop a strategy to deal with inflation in the coming months to make food cheaper.
“You can’t do these things without having conversations with the industries,” he said.
“If you are going to forgo revenue — tax revenue — you have to make sure that your people [and] businesses … get maximum benefit because you have to find some way to put that money back,” Penn argued.
He further contended that the government may need to explore ways in which it can cut costs in other areas such as projects or recurrent expenditure.
“So, some things that we require to get done in this budget cycle will not get done because we are forgoing $7 million in revenue at the lower end,“ Penn said.
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