Published On: Sat, Apr 20th, 2013

Demonstration against Sales tax plans

ProtestorWILLEMSTAD – Several hundred people protested yesterday morning against the government’s plans to raise the six percent sales tax on certain products to nine percent. Parliament met yesterday about these plans. Trade unions, pensioners and the MFK of former premier Gerrit Schotte called for the demonstration.

Schotte left the meeting in Parliament yesterday afternoon to join the protesters. “ Let it be known that it is your right to come and demonstrate. You complain today or you remain silent forever. The tax increase, the purchasing power decline. We are not the only ones telling the coalition parties today, and they have choices, but they choose today to take action against the economy of Curaçao. A series of measures which our economy cannot carry all at once,” Schotte declared.

Among the protesters were many retirees. Earlier this year the government of outgoing Prime Minister Daniel Hodge increased retirement age from 60 to 65 years. The government also retrenched the basic health insurance and the property tax was increased. According to Hodge, the measures are needed to bring the government’ finances in order. Schotte has a different view; “ It's a big blow to our pensioners, a major step back.”

According to the protesters, the adjustments makes life for people with low incomes and pensioners too expensive. “I have the right to be free to live as a pensioners,” as was stated on one of the placards which one of the protesters had with him. "Why must I suffer? Let me live,” insisted another protest sign. The sales tax increase will apply to products such as computers and alcoholic beverages. The new bill proposed to take the sales tax down from 6 to 0 percent on the necessities of life, such as potatoes, bread and rice.

According to police spokesman Reggie Huggins,  the demonstration yesterday morning went smoothly. “There was a big crowd and of course there were shoutings here and there, but we had enough police on the streets to maintain public order. By lunchtime most protesters were gone, but the police remained ready until after the meeting.”

Image: Ramsay Soemanta

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