St. John’s Antigua- Amid growing complaints from the business community, government has handed down a “clear” policy directive to the Department of Inland Revenue on the vexing issue of penalties and fees attracted by late tax payments.
Minister of Finance and Economy Harold Lovell admitted, “Some issues arose in terms of fairness” and said the Division has been told that resolutions “must reflect an understanding that we would also have been partially culpable.”
His comments come against the vociferous cries from several local business operators that they should not be penalised for filing taxes late when the delinquency arises as a result of government’s actions.
Lovell told OBSERVER Media the only “fair solution” is the department taking its share of the blame.
“There must be some consideration given to the fact that the reminders were not sent out,” he said.
But the man who controls government’s purse was quick to warn that those who “with impunity refuse to pay or hold on to trust funds” will not be spared from the penalties.
The minister of finance also used his time on the Voice of the People programme to explain further, the Baldwin Spencer-administration’s $40 million investment in Antigua & Barbuda Investment Bank (ABIB).
He revealed that when a resolution for the cash-strapped financial institution is finally reached, government would be one of its shareholders.
“We are looking to get equity, shares out of it. ABIB is in the process of being resolved; we are looking to see how best to resolve it. There are several plans which I prefer not to go into,” Lovell noted.
Late last year, the International Monetary Fund suspended payment from a US$128 loan due to government’s decision to inject millions of dollars into ABIB to stave off financial collapse.