UPP Calls For Tax Relief In Light Of COVID-19

Mindful of the effect that COVID-19 can have on the lives of the people of Antigua and Barbuda;

Concerned that citizens and residents may be acting out of fear, rather than from an informed position;
Recognizing the important role of all in times of national crisis;

The United Progressive Party calls on the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to take immediate steps to implement the following Social and Economic Measures and National Response Mechanisms:

Social Measures
1. Immediate evaluation of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices at elder care facilities and implementation of strict Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidelines, provided to all through customized educational campaigns.

2. Mandatory enforcement of health & safety and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices for all sanitation and janitorial workers in public and private sectors. Evaluate the knowledge levels and ensure implementation through customized educational campaigns.

3. Provide Daily updates at a designated time on local aspects of COVID-19 and the latest available information and advice from WHO, PAHO and CARPHA.

4. Encourage public and private sector employers to exercise flexible vacation leave regimes to facilitate any required COVID-19 social distancing.

Economic Measures
1. Temporary ABST relief on goods and services essential for COVID- 19 Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), defense and mitigation, which are not currently ABST exempt.

2. Enforce price control on goods and services essential for COVID- 19 Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), defense and mitigation, which are not currently subject to price control.

3. Delay the implementation of planned new taxes and increased tax collection regimes in the 2020 budget, especially those that will impact the spending power of individuals and businesses.

4. Expand the Peoples Benefit Programme to cover persons outside the social safety net, whose economic state seriously compromises their ability to practice Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures.

National Response Mechanism

1. Implement a COVID-19 Training Workshop for Media Workers immediately, aimed at improving COVID-19 Media Coverage, to reduce mis-information and dis-information.

2. Develop and make public a COVID-19 National Response Budget and Work Programme detailing the national implementation actions and the budget allocations.

3. Prepare a cross sectoral inventory of personnel and skills available to combat the Community transmission of COVID-19 and co-opt non-Public Sector medical and clinical personnel, and technically trained persons in allied or related areas to be part of the National Emergency Response Team. Recruit and utilize local personnel. NB. The COVID-19 defense and mitigation response cannot be managed by Public Service employees only. The process requires more personnel.

4. Develop a detailed, functional and comprehensive Port Screening and Arriving Passenger Handling Protocol and Procedure, and implement it with adequate staffing. The protocol should include a comprehensive questionnaire, with trained scrutineers posted to all ports at all arrival times.

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