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Kamla: Budget deceptive and anti-working class

Published: 
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar during a press conference after the reading of the Budget yesterday. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON

The 2016 Budget read in Parliament by Finance Minister Colm Imbert was deceptive, inflationary and will see the poor and working class in this country feel the effects of raised goods and services in the near future.

That was the view of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar as she spoke to media following the reading of the Budget yesterday. The press conference was held at Tower D.

“This Budget is tax, tax, tax, tax and promise, promise, promise,” Persad-Bissessar said.

Flanked by Opposition MPs and Senators, Persad-Bissessar said the promises that were made were promises of mega-projects with no indication of how those would be financed. 

Among the projects mentioned by Imbert was the establishment of a ship repair and building centre in the western peninsula, the establishment of a sea route from the Toco to Tobago, as well as highway projects, including the Chaguaramas causeway.

“They gave no indication of what would be done or what would be the costing of any of these mega projects.

“I want us to recall for the past five years not a single tax was levied on the population,” she added.

Persad-Bissessar said Imbert had presented an inflationary budget.

“The prices of almost everything will go up, so when you look at the impact on the vulnerable, on the poor and on the working classes, we will see the increase that has come on fuel, super and diesel.

She noted that almost all vehicles that did transport of goods, as well as maxi-taxis, used diesel.

“The cost of transport will go up. If the cost of transport goes up, it means the cost of every good or service in the country will go up.

“Whilst he (Imbert) has said he will review the fuel subsidy, he has in effect removed the subsidy off the super and diesel up to 15 per cent. It is inflationary, it will impact on the most vulnerable and the poor.”

Persad-Bissessar described it as an anti-people’s Budget.

She also noted that there was few incentives given to the private sector and businesses.

VAT query

Persad-Bissessar also said the reduction in VAT needed to be further explained.

“While they promised to reduce VAT from 15 per cent to 12.5 per cent, that is fine but at no point did they indicate to the population they would be removing the zero-rated on items.

(FROM PAGE A3)

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who took notes during Imbert’s delivery, replies to the Budget at 10 am Friday. Debate will also be held on Saturday, next Monday and Tuesday.

Total projected revenue: $60.287 billion.

National security: $10.810 billion.

Education/training: $9.7 billion.

Health: $6.088 billion.

Public utilities: $4.4 billion.

Local government: $ 2.2 billion.

Works/infrastructure: $1.9 billion.

Housing: $1.6 billion.

Transport: $1.5 billion.

Agriculture: $831 million.

Tobago House of Assembly: $2.772 billion.

PSIP: $7 billion.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

• Reintroduction of ten-year passports from January 2016, removal of immigration form requirement for citizens at ports of entry.

• Reintroduction of the Rent To Own housing programme.

• Review/audit of PP’s Children’s Life Fund.

• Free national broadband wireless network, hot spots in popular areas.

• Introduction in 2016 of a video conferencing system at Remand Yard; pilot project for lay magistrates to address minor offences.

• Incentives to encourage installation of CCTV/alarm systems in 2016. 

• Business levy increased to 0.6 per cent per quarter, Green Fund Levy contribution increased to 0.3 per cent per quarter from January.

• Graduate recruitment programme catering for 20 people to be placed at each of the 23 ministries.

• $15 million to assist labour, divided between JTUM, NATUC.

• On the Job Training stipends increased by 20 per cent from December 1.

• Tax incentive framework for construction in March 2016

• Inputs to the agricultural sector exempt from all taxes/duties from January 

• Local government reform completed by October 2016.

• Removal of all traffic lights between Port-of-Spain to Sangre Grande and construction of overpasses/interchanges. 

• New Tobago airport terminal, air/sea link improvements, dry-docking facility plans, Toco ferry port, new Port-of-Spain container port.

• Joint Border Security Agency, Sports Institute of T&T, revival of PM’s award for Best School Kitchen Garden, reactivation of International Financial Centre plan.

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