Last update: 05-Dec-2013 5:01 am
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Property Tax Back
Motorists can breathe a sigh of relief before tomorrow’s reading of the 2013/2014 fiscal package, as Finance Minister Larry Howai announced yesterday that the price of fuel will remain the same. However, homeowners may have to dig deeper into their pockets, as Howai plans to re-introduce the much dreaded land and building tax. He said while he did not expect everyone to be pleased with the budget, it was in keeping with the People’s Partnership long-term objectives.
Speaking at a National Gas Company press conference held at NGC’s head office at Point Lisas, Howai said Cabinet had approved $500 million to implement a programme to convert 17,528 vehicles to use compressed natural gas (CNG). Out of this figure, $125 million will be used to build 22 CNG station modules, while $320 million will finance the conversion of the vehicles. The programme will be done in a five-year phase, which Howai said has to be fully operational before removing the gas subsidy.
“Cabinet has agreed that the money would be injected to get the CNG stations up and running, so we have been able to get everything going now the way that I wanted to see it happen. “I expect it will take about two years to get the basic structure that I want to see in place. Once that happens, we are going to start to see the movements in the subsidy, together with the continuing build-up of the stations and the other capabilities to ensure that everybody has access to a CNG vehicle.”
One of the good news for the already cost-effective CNG is the reduction in the price from $1.07 per litre to $1. Howai said yesterday the PP’s land and building tax would not be much different from the People’s National Movement’s 2009 property tax proposal. However, he said it will be introduced in a way that would not adversely affect businesses and homeowners.
“It is the same valuation. The issue with what was proposed initially by the PNM was the concern that individuals had about the rate and the whole process of consultation and so on. We will do it in a way that there is appropriate consultation in terms of the rate, that is it something not inimical to the growth of business and that it is something that can be supported by homeowners generally without any significant dislocation,” Howai said.
He added that the budget would also place some emphasis on tax reform as there is a need to tighten tax systems in T&T. He said international tax consultants will be contracted to assist with the reform. “We need to definitely tighten up the tax system and I will speak to that in the budget. Yes there are some initiatives that we will be taking and have started to take.”
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