5 Feb 2003

Unions in Vanuatu oppose introduction of new tax

6:12 pm on 5 February 2003

The secretary-general of Vanuatu's National Workers Union is calling on the government to cut costs rather than impose new taxes in its efforts to increase revenue.

Ephraim Kalsakau says the government could raise sufficient funds if it simply reduced the number of MPs, ministers and political appointees.

He says plans to introduce a debit tax on bank withdrawals from July will hit workers who haven't seen a wage increase since 1991 while the cost of living continues to rise.

Mr Kalsakau says the NWU and the Teachers Union plan to stage a demonstration against the tax.

"If we allow the government to go ahead with this tax, they will then forget the points that were raised in the CRP, which was that for the government to look at reducing the number of parliamentarians, and the number of ministers and the number of political appointees which in effect really would mean that the government would make the 8 million which they are seeking in this debit tax."

Mr Kalsakau says the unions believe the debit tax is the first step to introducing an income tax in Vanuatu.