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HomeNewsArchivesPROSSER BILL IS BAD NEWS FOR THE V.I.

PROSSER BILL IS BAD NEWS FOR THE V.I.

The Prosser bill is an unfortunate piece of legislation which, if implemented, will mortgage the birthright of the Virgin Islands' children and the territory's long-term interests.
Consider the following:
(1) Every time Industrial Development Commission benefits are granted to a firm, the government gives up income from corporations which the territory has every right to collect. In the case of the Prosser bill, the giveaways are taxes which rightfully belong to the next generation of Virgin Islanders.
(2) In reducing the taxes that the V.I. Telephone Corp. is required to pay, the V.I. government is not only subsidizing Mr. Prosser's business, it is also redistributing the tax burden to people and firms which do not have this generous benefit.
(3) The value of the tax giveaway has the potential, over time, to be many times the value of the St. Croix property to be purchased.
(4) By extending tax benefits for several decades into the future, the government will be artificially, if unintentionally, inflating the market value of Vitelco stock.
(5) The V.I. government has already purchased and taken off the tax roles large tracts of land, particularly on St. Croix, which it has not offered for sale to Virgin Islanders.
(6) The V.I. government has the right, at any time, to acquire by eminent domain any privately owned land for a good public purpose, including everything Mr. Prosser owns, on any of the islands. It has only to get its fiscal house in order to empower itself to do so.
Since the Public Services Commission unfortunately approved his leveraged buyout of Vitelco with a $1 million bridge loan, Mr. Prosser has become one of the territory's political kingpins and wealthier citizens. With the acquiescence of the government, significant political contributions and a payroll which features high-salaried, influential Virgin Islanders, he has built one of the largest communication/media empires in the Caribbean.
I believe this concentration of power is not in the best interests of the people of the Virgin Islands.
Strengthening Mr. Prosser's influence and power, and increasing the value of his holdings through the implementation of any of the provisions of the Prosser bill, is both shortsighted and, in the long-term, dangerous.
One hopes that good sense will eventually prevail.
Editors' note: Allan Paul Shatkin is a former Virgin Islands senator.

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