Governor Kenneth E. Mapp is grateful for the support of the Virgin Islands Legislature in acting to restore fiscal stability to the Territory.
Local senators have approved the key elements of the Governor’s Revenue Enhancement and Economic Recovery Act of 2017, the administration’s plan to increase revenues to continue operations while closing and, eventually, eliminating the structural budget deficit over five years.
Governor Mapp commended the lawmakers for demonstrating the courage to put the interests of the people ahead of political considerations, while acknowledging that these are difficult decisions to make. He also thanked residents, community leaders and the business community for their pragmatic ideas to address the very serious financial issues facing the Territory.
The Revenue Enhancement and Economic Recovery Act is a critical component of the Governor’s strategy to recover and maintain the Government of the Virgin Islands’ bonds.
Governor Mapp has repeatedly noted that in order to restore the bond market’s confidence, the Virgin Islands Government must demonstrate an actionable plan for generating sufficient revenue to support its expenses. The bills, now awaiting his signature, are a major step in that direction, along with strategies to cut costs.
“If we remain united and committed as both government and community,” Governor Mapp stated, “we will overcome this decades-old challenge of borrowing, and we will do so without increasing the cost of the goods and services that Virgin Islanders rely on for their quality of life.
The Governor says his administration is committed not only to reducing the cost of government, but also to continue expanding the economy with new opportunities for investment and employment. “The Legislature’s bold action paves the way for sustainable success,” he commented.
Bill Number 32-0005 will assess a marginal levy on alcohol, tobacco and carbonated beverages and add a daily fee to timeshare accommodations. Bill Number 32-0007 sets a minimum tax rate on property owners using credits to subsidize their payments.
The legislation, as amended Tuesday, adds about 14 cents and 17 cents in new taxes to the cost of a bottle of US. and Foreign beers, respectively and $6 to the cost of a carton of cigarettes. Liquor will be taxed at $6 per case or 50 cents per bottle. The legislation will also assess a $25 daily fee on timeshare units.
Governor Mapp, who is in Washington, D.C. meeting with Congressional leaders, will review the measures passed on his return to the Territory on Wednesday.