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HomeNewsArchivesReader Says the Diageo Deal Points to the Importance of V.I. Status

Reader Says the Diageo Deal Points to the Importance of V.I. Status

Dear Source,
Most of the population of this Territory do not see how the issue of status has any direct impact
on their daily lives. This is unfortunate.
Let me show how it affects a current issue. With the debate swirling around the proposed Diageo
contract, I have heard no one mention, much less discuss, the fact that in the agreement as
presently drafted this government gives up the right to obtain all revenue from any of the
mechanisms under its control, such as real estate taxes, gross receipts taxes, income tax, etc. The
sole source of direct revenue comes from the rebate given to us by the U.S. government of the
rum excise tax. We have no control over this rebate.
This has not been mentioned even though I have heard commentators remark on how important
this project will be for us given the poor state and bad prospects of the U.S. economy, which
implies that the U.S. government will be looking for additional revenue sources for itself. Given
our status as an unincorporated territory, total control over how much, if any, of that excise tax is
sent back to the territory is in the hands of the U.S. Congress.
Yes, the Diageo plant could well be an important economic asset for the economy of these
Virgin Islands, and especially of St. Croix, for decades to come. But doesn’t that emphasize how
important it is that we have control over our only direct source of revenue from it? Isn’t this
especially true as we will be depending on that revenue to pay the bonds that the territory will
float to pay for the building of the plant and for the other subsidies that we will be providing to
the business? How will we make these payments if Congress reduces or eliminates the rebate?
This situation is a consequence of our status. It is an condition which silently affects many
situations in our community.
Status is important to our daily lives.
Judith L. Bourne
St. Thomas

Editor’s note:We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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