(Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News)
Public officers are being promised bonus incentives, as well as increased tax breaks, as part of the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) Business Plan.
The party last night, January 11, launched their ‘Business Plan for the People of the Virgin Islands,’ a document which replaces the traditional manifesto, and contains their plans for their first year in office, should the party be elected.
The plan was publicised during a rally in Huntums Ghut, District Five.
The first goal listed on their economic agenda is the increase in the tax break on earnings. This tax break, the report stated, is “in recognition of the hardships the territory has faced as a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.”
“A PVIM will investigate the possibility of increasing the non-taxable portion of salaries from the first $10,000 tax free to the first $15,000 tax free (for a period of at least two years), beginning 1 January 2020,” the Plan stated.
Chairman of the PVIM, Hon. Ronnie Skelton, during a radio programme on January 8, reminded that it was during his tenure as Minister for Finance between 2003 and 2007 that he implemented the tax break on the first $10,000 employee earnings annually.
Speaking to the need for an increase, he said, “We have to look after the less fortunate in the society. We cannot continue to look after the middle class and the upper class. If we allow the less fortunate to go unattended, this is not a society that most of us will want to live in.”
“So, this is why we continue to establish systems and programmes,” he added.
The Chairman—who is seeking the position of Premier and Finance Minister—said that an increase in the tax break is not a new idea, but something he has lobbied for in the past.
“The $10,000, we were trying to raise it to $15,000 because it was said by the Statistics Division that people needed about $18,000 or $19,000 to live on...15 years ago. So, now, it’s probably much higher, so we were trying to get people to at least meet the minimum standard of living,” he shared.
Additionally, the PVIM is also seeking to further incentivise public officers by investigating and dedicating resources towards the reduction of waste in the public sector.
This, they say, “will be conducive to implementing a double salary/bonus incentive programme at the end of each year for public officers.”