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Imbert: No new taxes before 2020
Citizens have been assured by Finance Minister Colm Imbert that there will be no further increases on any taxes in the next two years.
This as Imbert says Government is doing all it can to ensure there’s minimal impact on citizens and their standard of living.
Imbert gave the assurance while speaking at the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s post-Budget forum at MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
The Minister said Government felt it had currently increased taxes to a stable level, so there’s no additional reason for further increases, which includes Income Tax, Corporation Tax and Value Added Tax (VAT).
The increase from $3.97 to $4.97 per litre of Super gasoline was the only hike announced in Monday’s Budget presentation, as Imbert had said Government opted for a compromise rather than an increase in taxes.
On concerns over fuel prices with the impending closure of Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, Imbert noted there’s no connection between the State-owned oil company and the price citizens will now pay at the pumps.
He noted that he was also thanked by certain business entities for not increasing the price of alcohol and cigarettes. Such increases, Imbert added, made no sense as people drank and smoked anyway.
He said during his discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before the Budget, he was advised by the organisation to raise taxes on tobacco and alcohol—advice he refused. He said the decision to leave the current taxes on these items was based on data-driven research, which showed that there was no increase in revenue from the last increase announced in the last budget.
Imbert said with no increase in taxes on the cards, Government will now begin to examine further incentives to grow the economy.
“I am quite pleased that the population has understood what we have done,” he added.
On concerns from the business community regarding outstanding VAT refunds, Imbert also gave the assurance that outstanding monies will be paid.
“We have to be careful as every dollar that is paid out in VAT refunds is one dollar less for the Government,” Imbert noted.
On the issue of Property Tax regarding industrial properties, he said this was a little way off as the focus is on residential properties, following which the commercial phase will then be tackled.
The chamber’s senior vice-president Reyaz Ahamad, who also spoke, said it can “no longer be business as usual.”
“We find that too often we as a country have a tendency to be so focused on the past...often a past that never returned, only to stumble on the rough ground ahead because we have not been paying attention.
“After we stumble we find ourselves on making sudden decisions that we might have been better able to plan if we had been looking forward,” Ahamad noted.
He emphasised that the responsibility to focus attention on the road ahead does not only lie on the shoulders of the Government and Finance Minister but with all citizens.
Focusing on Petrotrin, Ahamad said while much discussion has been taking place regarding the cost, little has been said about what can be expected of the State-entity in the next ten or 20 years.
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