Citing ‘belt tightening’ measures, the federal government has announced several cutbacks to duty concessions and business incentives. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas last week presented to the Cabinet a number of proposed fiscal measures he said were designed to reduce government expenditures and increase revenues, most of which were advocated By the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “These measures are designed to respond aggressively to the serious fiscal challenges which are confronting the government at this time,” he said. One such measure will be ‘streamlining tax exemptions” By limiting duty concessions granted to small businesses. A post Cabinet briefing informed that, “Where duty concessions are extended, a 12% Customs Service Charge will be strictly applied, as required By law.” The business community will also likely see a reduction in the tax holiday scheme and an increase in the license fees for the gaming industry. Persons importing vehicles will now be subject to the environmental levy imposed on vehicles of any age, instead of just on new automobiles. The number of taxi and bus drivers receiving duty concessions on vehicles and spare parts will also be reduced. As it relates to government expenditure, a freeze has been put on new hires and wage increases have been postponed. Dr. Douglas had also announced a cut to the civil service earlier this year, saying all civil servants reaching retirement age of 55 By September of this year would be made to retire. Other measures of fiscal restructuring include freezing of travel, except in cases where the travel is sponsored By an external agency or can be very strongly justified; re-prioritizing all projects and programmes to ensure a high level of relevance and necessity in those which will continue to receive support; re-prioritizing capital projects to concentrate on those of greater economic importance and that are most basic; and relooking the structure of the social services levy to increase its scope. These measures will be bolstered By the November 1implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) system, which will see government collecting taxes on the majority of goods and services consumed on a local basis.