CHRISTIANSTED — Gov. Kenneth Mapp, members of his administration, members of the 32nd Legislature and members of the St. Croix business community met today to discuss the implications of proposed sin taxes and timeshare taxes on the local St. Croix economy.
Mapp opened by stating that he recognized that the concerns of the St. Croix businesses differ from those of their St. Thomas counterparts and that for that reason he recognized their perspective would carry a unique value.
Representatives from the business community included the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Association, and private business owners that shared their concerns and ideas with the Governor and his administrations.
One restaurant owner indicated that unlike St. Thomas, the majority of diners were locals, unlike the St. Thomas market, and potentially would be more sensitive to tax hikes. Governor Mapp acknowledged this concern stating, “This is the purpose of this forum, so that we can evaluate the opportunities and risks that will eventually address the issue. Correcting the deficit without harming our local businesses our adding to the cost of everyday necessities.”
Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Nellon Bowry gave a general financial overview of the financial conditions of the Government of the V.I. from 2010 to present. Commissioner of Finance Valdamier Collens presented highlights of the Five Year Plan. Marvin Pickering, the Director of VIBIR presented an analysis of the proposed “sin taxes” to the group outlining the revenue projections for each of the proposed commodities.
Commissioner Nicholson-Doty of the Department of Tourism presented on the proposed legislation that would provide for an annual rate of thirty dollars per day for timeshare owners.
During the discussions, many of the business owners shared their innovative and aggressive methods of cost cutting measures that they have used to survive the economic down turn that the current bill seeks to correct. Governor Mapp assured baffled listeners that the “round table” discussions were a modern approach to opening conversations between the public and private sectors to build a stronger Virgin Islands that would benefit all.