President of the Leaders Party of Vanuatu (LPV) Jotham Napat has announced his party will not support the introduction of income tax.
“We have many issues to fix before income tax should ever be considered. It is unrealistic to assume the introduction of this tax could be managed, let alone affective,” Mr Napat said.
Pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Vanuatu to introduce income tax is unwarranted and unfair, he insists.
“Sending consultants over for a week to tell us what we need to change just to please a foreign body is not enough. If a prepared, consultative approach was adopted with provisions for the means to change our tax system, we would look at it. But as it stands, the pressure from the IMF, the European Union (EU) and Australia is another form of colonial bullying,” Mr Napat said.
“Vanuatu gained its independence. We said no to colonial rule and our party will continue to say no to colonial bullying.
“We need to address concerns with the collection of VAT and import duties as a start. Our party believes the government is missing out on much needed revenue by not managing the collection of these taxes — how would they manage income tax as well?”
The Member of Parliament asked how many small businesses are compliant with VAT. He suggested that cash payments for goods and services are not being properly taxed.
“How would a labourer, a house girl or plantation worker manage to survive with already low incomes being expected to pay income tax?
“We are not Australia — we simply do not have the resources or the expertise to implement income tax and those advising us we should prove they don’t know Vanuatu at all.”
MP Napat said whilst there is a very real concern income tax would stop investment in Vanuatu, the main issue is how it would affect Ni-Vanuatu people.
“If we collect all the VAT and import duties that are currently outstanding we can better fund health and education. Introducing yet another tax is not the answer.”
Leaders Party MPs spend much of their time consulting their constituents and 100% of the feedback is against income tax.
“We are a party that listens to our constituents — the people we are there to represent. As such we will not support the introduction of income tax,” Napat concluded.