The British government may have a major battle on its hands over the proposed implementation of value added tax (VAT) in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).
This follows the formation of The Turks and Caicos Independent Business Council (TCIBC) by a broad group of concerned individuals from all sectors of the economy and business community throughout the TCI.
A spokesman said:
“We have a common purpose in that we are all unified in our opposition to the introduction of VAT in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“We send a clear warning to Chancellor George Osborne that we represent the interests of all the leading businesses in the country and indeed it can be said that our views are representative of virtually every business concern.
“We are deeply concerned about the expected negative effects of the hasty introduction of VAT into the island’s tax structure. As business professionals we do not have a problem with taxation and recognize the need to fund government.
“However we do have a major problem with this particular type of tax and its inappropriate nature for these specific islands and our unique economy at this time and at this specific point in its young development. We believe that the recent gains in economic sustainability will be lost with the imposition of this ‘boiler plate’, cookie cutter, tax system.
“This new VAT tax is not driven by a ‘grass roots’ initiative, but is a politically driven tax imposed upon us by distant bureaucrats based in Europe without effective due process and regard to our specific economy and its future development. One size does not fit all.
“It is our intention to continue the debate on VAT through wider public education and dissemination of information and to oppose and resist its introduction through whatever legal mechanisms are open to us. This will include public consultations and education through the press, TV and radio.
“This task has already begun with over 3,000 people having already signed a petition opposing VAT. Many more are joining us daily.
“This is not a done deal as many think. No government or administration can impose any policy upon a community if that community refuses to accept the policy.”
TCIBC’s newly appointed chairman, Clive Stanbrook, a prominent businessman and Queen’s Counsel, said, “We are sending a clear message to the British government. It is the view of virtually the entire business community in the Turks and Caicos that a VAT tax is inappropriate, costly, cumbersome and unnecessary at this stage in the development of these Islands. In the short term it is clear that the existing taxation systems can be relied upon to raise such extra revenue as may be needed. "