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Island business leaders: no more taxes

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No to more taxes - that's the basic sentiment from a survey conducted with the Guam business community.  It's no surprise that the island's private sector is up in arms over talks of tax increases.

In a recent survey with chamber membership, 87% oppose Governor Eddie Calvo's proposal to increase the Business Privilege Tax by nearly 19%. another 84% oppose Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr.'s proposal to increase, or create a health insurance fee of 4%. Board Chairman for the Guam Chamber of Commerce Bobby Shringi said a big concern is whether the government has done its part to cut expenses and boost collections. Another concern is whether the money raised will go where it's intended. And while most members opposed any increases, there may be room for negotiation.

"If there is one tax that could take a little tweak, the property tax would be that option, because it is the lowest in the nation," he said.

Shringi estimates minor changes in the property tax could raise tens of millions of dollars. Meanwhile he says the fees, taxes and borrowing bills currently under discussion won't only impact the cost of doing business in Guam, but the cost of living, as these fees will likely be passed on to the consumers.

"When that's increased, it adds on to the cost of goods, it impacts the most vulnerable in the community," Shringi shared. "As for the health insurance premium fee, no matter how you look at it and what it's funding, it's going to cause an increase in the cost of health insurance."

Shringi said any proposal to increase taxes should be put up for a vote through a referendum as mandated by Guam law.

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