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Gaming houses tax dispute has impacted revenue targets, notes DPM

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.

The government continues to deal with the backlog of arrears it met when it came into office “that continue to throw us off balance”, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said Friday, adding that the taxes it has not been able to collect from the gaming houses, due to a dispute, have put the government off its projected targets.

Turnquest told reporters that government revenue is below what was anticipated at this juncture in the fiscal year. However, he said those shortfalls should lessen as issues with the implementation of the value-added tax increase to 12 percent “start to settle”.

Turnquest insisted that the government intends to collect the revenue owed to it by the gaming industry.

He said he is disappointed by the stance the industry has taken, as the government and gaming operators seek an understanding on the tax increase the government attempted to impose on the gaming industry during the 2018/2019 national budget. The gaming industry has not yet accepted the tax increase and continues to fight it.

However, Turnquest said that, “at the end of the day we expect that the government’s revenue will be collected”.

“Revenue lost to date [from the gaming houses] is a significant number… We do anticipate collecting every penny of the government’s revenue,” said Turnquest.

Turnquest said, despite the current shortfall, the government expects to come in very close to its projection by the end of this fiscal year, and it also expects to be in line with its three-year fiscal plan.

“The way that [past governments] had been operating, the finances of the country hadn’t been sustainable,” Turnquest said.

“We have put in place a deliberate strategy to get our fiscal house in order.

“As a government led by the prime minister, we are resolute about putting the economy on a path that is sustainable, that will lead to the empowerment of our people and strengthen the infrastructure and institutions of our country so that they are sustainable for the long-term.”

He added that if this country is not on sound financial footing, it will not be in a position of strength when negotiating with other countries.