The Chambers of Commerce, the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association, and American Resort Development Association reached out to Gov. Kenneth Mapp on Friday to request that he withdraw Bill No. 32-005, which proposes to tax marine parts, boats, bicycles, wine, beer, cigarettes, distilled spirits and time shares, and alternatively meet with the private sector organizations to develop ideas recently presented which could help alleviate the financial crisis.
We understand that in 2008 there was a global recession like no other and that in 2012 Hovensa shuttered its doors, but we do not have those same problems today. We also understand that when we borrowed then, those obligations were not General Fund obligations.
It was with this in mind that we provided many alternative solutions to this current crisis and NONE of those solutions included cutting government employees’ salaries by 30 percent – this is simply not true.
We reached out to Mapp because we believe that his proposed taxes, if imposed, will represent a crushing blow to local consumers and businesses already burdened with the dramatically high cost of living.
In our call on Friday, and in a subsequent email, we encouraged the governor and his team to work collaboratively with the private sector to develop many of the ideas generated by the community to replace the wrongly labeled sin taxes.
And so it was with deep disappointment that we note that the governor’s response was to issue a press release attributing inaccurate facts to the private sector inflaming the politics of economic division in a misguided attempt to pit sectors of our community against each other. We are and must be one community if we are to work ourselves out of our present troubles.
We in the private sector are prepared to meet with the governor again and again – because we believe that only by including everyone in a fact-based – and civil – review of real numbers will we arrive at consensus as to what is either likely to succeed as good public policy or be accepted as fair policy by the general public.