Attorney-at-law Ramesh Persad-Maharaj is calling on government and Finance Minister Larry Howai to extend the tax amnesty for at least six more months after recalling what he describes as an ordeal in attempting to process his documents at the Registrar General's office on Friday before Christmas.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian, he said: “I'm calling upon the government to extend the amnesty to enable companies to file their papers without having to incur a penalty or an extra charge when it expires on December 31.”
“I want to ask government to be good enough to extend this time to at least six months to enable all the defaulters to put in their papers in order.
“We must remember it is also part of the culture of T&T for people to wait until the last minute to get things done.” He said people who went to see about their paperwork at the Registrar General's office in South Quay, Port of Spain, are sometimes turned away when a certain number is called because no one else is allowed entry into the department as it cannot accommodate any more people.
Persad-Maharaj recounted when he went to the Registrar General's office at 10:30 am on Friday, he was told by a security officer that couldn't enter the line as the quota on processing numbers was reached. He said he noticed that there were only three officers on duty attending to the throng of people anxious to beat the amnesty deadline.
Persad-Maharaj said the office was handicapped by chronic staff shortage, lack of expertise, lack of space and many other constraints. He had praise for the registrar responsible for companies however, who he said was doing his best despite the circumstances and he was an “excellent public servant and conscientious worker.”
“The government has to get a bigger space, better expertise, more trained clerks and ensure there is no more absenteeism and lack of performance in the office,” Persad-Maharaj said.