Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Gypsy: Costume tax not negotiable
Minister of Culture, Arts and Mutil-culturalism, Winston “Gypsy” Peters, says he will not rescind his decision to impose a 2,000 per cent tax on imported Carnival costumes. He is, however, willing to reduce tariffs on raw materials to facilitate local manufacturing of costumes. Speaking to reporters at the launch of the Kaiso Showcase tent at the Palms Club, San Fernando, on Thursday night, Peters said it was unfair that foreign exchange was going to countries like India and China through mass importation of completed costumes. While hundreds of locals are clamouring for jobs, Peters pointed out, some businessmen were engaging in importation rather than local manufacturing.
Asked whether he intended to meet with the businessmen to reconsider his proposal, Peters said if he did, the price hike would be more than 2,000 per cent. “I don’t want them bringing any costumes in the country because this is T&T Carnival and we just cannot be spending our foreign exchange to grandeur somebody else’s country when our people here are suffering,” Peters said. Commenting on high unemployment in T&T, Peters noted: “We have a lot of young people here who need jobs. There are also lots of people here who want to learn how to make the very mas that they are making in India and China.”
Peters added: “I don’t mind reducing the tariffs on raw materials so that our country will have the opportunity to make the mas, but I will not encourage importation of entire costumes. “It is about making our mas right here. T&T must be a mas exporting country and not a mas importing country. There are lots of skilled people here who can help with this.” Over the past week, business people, including members of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA), have been complaining that labour problems will impede the manufacturing of local costumes. Officials said local and imported costumes could co-exist and they called for a meeting with Peters to discuss the issue.
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