The Opposition United Progressive Party has put the government on notice that if they go forward with increasing the Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST) by one percent, civil disobedience will be evident in the country.
Speaking at the UPP meeting on Monday night, Former Opposition Member of Parliament and Senior Industrial Officer of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union Chester Hughes made the threat.
“I want to go further tonight and tell the Prime Minister that my statement to the media is not a threat but its a promise and that if you and your government go forward with adding any more taxes on the working class people there will be industrial unrest in this country.”
While speaking during a Parliamentary session to debate a Bill abolishing the Personal Income Tax, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that as a part of his government’s plan to recover revenue that would be lost when the PIT is repealed; the ABST could be increased by one percent.
Also adding to the call was former United Progressive Party chairman Leon Chakku Symester. Symester called out the Prime Minister, the Legal Affairs Minister Steadroy Benjamin and Commissioner of Police Wendell Robinson warning that the opposition and its supporters will stand against particular directives of the present government.
“We are willing to take them on, not only in the court of law bur also in the court of public opinion and if necessary there will be civil disobedience in this country. ”
Meantime, the Government’s Chief of Staff says the threat is just another dramatic move by the opposition to get the attention of the electorate which they otherwise would not receive.
“They are in a mode that seems to suggest that unless they make dramatic performance, the electorate won’t listen to them and this is why we’re getting these loud noises and threats; it’s in an attempt to sum up some attention which they would not normally receive.”
Hurst said the turn out from the UPP meeting on Monday night is a clear indication of the lack of interest the people of Antigua and Barbuda public has in what they have to say.