Government has disclosed that over 14,000 Saint Lucians will benefit from another timely fiscal intervention, which was orchestrated and implemented to bring a level of economic relief to the citizenry.
According to official sources, effective January 1, 2023, Saint Lucians earning up to EC$25, 000 annually will be exempted from paying income tax.
This week, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre introduced the tax reforms in Saint Lucia’s Lower House of Parliament, which sources say has been well received at this time in the run-up to the festive season.
In an effort to curtail the increasing cost of living factors brought on by unfavourable global trends, escalating trading processes and other extenuating factors, government has taken measures to help citizens cushion the bludgeoning economic effects. It is estimated that Saint Lucian tax payers will collectively save over $14 million annually.
“Because of these changes, the proposed scenario is that the government is going to lose in the first quarter $3.5 million in revenue, between January and March, because of these changes,” PM Pierre told legislators at the parliamentary sitting.
However, the Castries East MP asserted that “we are putting that money back into the hands of the consumer for the consumer to use as disposal income.”
The tax break is expected to benefit private sector workers and public servants in Grades I to V, who earn up to $25,000 annually.
PM Pierre recalled that recently while conversing with an elderly lady, she expressed satisfaction with the 4% increase that government has allocated to the retirees fund.
Stating that these undertakings help to define the feature module of his tenure in office, he stated: “We wish we could have done more …and we want to do more, but the fact is incremental, we do it incrementally and it benefits you.”
Reports indicate that the new tax breaks will benefit more than 14,000 Saint Lucian workers.
Meanwhile, tourism stakeholders are awaiting word on the draft Tourism Incentives Act document that was initiated this March, after ministry officials conducted a series of consultations involving stakeholders from all subsectors in the tourism industry. The purpose of this exercise was to assess the legislative landscape for tourism development, as well as gather feedback to inform the draft Tourism Development Bill.
It is anticipated that the Bill will facilitate the inclusive, resilient and sustainable development of the tourism industry by providing for certification, special incentives, tax relief and exemptions for certified tourism service providers and other related matters.
The Bill recognizes the prominence of tourism in the social and economic fabric of the country and, among other issues, seeks to address some major factors. These include, facilitating the dynamic and diversified nature of tourism industry, the development of all tourism sub-sectors, and the growth and expansion of tourism niche products and services; to support inclusive development, i.e., by effectively engaging, involving and making special provisions for local tourism investors and by the provision of appropriate and equitable incentives; and to facilitate the ease of doing business in the tourism industry through the provision of an efficient incentive application and approval process.
In addition, the bill will look to promote quality standards for tourism products and services, including consistent and high levels of customer service, while protecting health and safety; and to encourage climate resilient tourism business development and support environmental conservation and management (of cultural, heritage/historic, ecological, natural resources etc.) practices in the tourism business sector.
Notably , the bill also seeks to provide specific support for industry resilience i.e., help with rapid recovery post-disaster or post crisis by including special allowances including tax breaks from payment on all international advertising and marketing; post-disaster, and recovery tax breaks.