Last update: 11-Dec-2013 3:23 pm
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Howai: No adjustment to Gate
The Peoples’ Partnership government has no intention of adjusting the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (Gate), Finance Minister Larry Howai said yesterday. Aborting the Gate programme and replacing it with the dollar-for-dollar programme has been a subject debated by several stakeholders including Dr Roger Hosein, co-ordinator of the Trade and Economic Development Unit, University of the West Indies.
But Howai said it is important to get feedback from the population before adjusting Gate. “No. There is no intention to expand the GATE programme. Before we do anything like that we would have to do extensive consultation, we will seek to get stakeholder feedback and involvement and then, make any changes,” Howai said.
He was speaking to reporters yesterday after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the TTIFC and UTT which was held at the Hyatt Regency hotel, Dock Road, Port-of-Spain. The MOU is focused on financial sector labour force development and is an initiative designed to facilitate the Government’s plan to formalise and build a Financial Institutions Support Services Industry (FINeSS) as a sub-sector of the financial services sector.
Howai said the 2013/2014 budget would focus on expanding the economy. “A big part of the budget would be a focus on implementation, on getting things done. That is where most of the focus would be this year. The economy has been on a growth path in the past four quarters and our intention is to have that growth continue, and to perhaps accelerate a bit while we do other things, such as diversify the economy and gradually implement our reform agenda.”
Concerning property tax, Howai maintained that it is not a tax unique to T&T. “It is something that exists everywhere, it is something that is considered a fair tax by tax experts. Generally, the issue is how it is introduced and what we do, in terms of its implementation. “The property tax now and the rates that were going to be made payable was itself fairly onerous and I think that is what people were concerned with.”
He anticipated that there should not be any problem with the introduction of the tax. “I don’t think there should be any problem with us introducing the property tax or re-introducing it. We will introduce it on a phased basis. We still have a number of things to do in terms of bringing valuations up-to-date, therefore there’s need to implement it on a phased basis and ensure that it is being done properly. We think the feedback on it should not be very negative in terms of what people say.”
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