The controversial General Services Tax(GST) has been passed by the Anguilla House of Assembly in a split vote in which some members of the government also sided with the Opposition.
The umbrella GST which replaces several individual import and consumption taxes went through a lengthy period of public consultation but continues to divide opinion in Anguilla.
The tax will be at a rate of 13 per cent for businesses with a turnover of EC$300,000 or more.
There are several exemptions including basic consumer necessities, education and specific healthcare services.
The GST came out of an agreement between the British government and the previous Anguilla administration to reform the tax system given concerns about the territory’s finances.
That agreement was signed just before last year’s year’s election which the former government lost, and in which the GST was a key campaign issue.
In separate statements issued after the GST was passed two current government ministers who voted against the bill explained the reasons for their decision.
Minister of Economic Development, Commerce, Information Technology and Natural Resources Kyle Hodge said: “The GST is a polarising issue and seen as the Goliath of our days in office thus far…We witnessed the processional disagreements it has caused on either side of the divide and more importantly amongst the government which I remain a part of.”
Mr Hodge said his vote “was not a vote against my government or a vote to split my government.”
The Economic Development and Commerce Minister whose ministry will share much of the responsibility for the new tax system said: “Despite the passage of GST, and the conflicting views that exist amongst members of the government, we all share in the commitment that between now and July 1st 2022 we can listen to the other concerns and amend the GST act if need be.”
Minister for Social Development and Education, Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers who also voted against the GST said, “Truth be told this GST Bill is the weight and yoke for generations to come inflicted by the decisions of past governments. Herein lies the paradox of how we move ahead.”
She also stated that “In the future, we can progress the constitutional reforms to change this reality.”