Much has been made of the “non tax” revenue raised in fiscal 2016. As always, one has to drill deep behind any data to get the true picture.
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Imbert: CAL ticket prices up
Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) ticket prices have already gone up as December flights to Toronto, Canada, are priced at $9,000 and those to Ft Lauderdale, Florida, and New York are $5,000 and $6,000 respectively, says PNM MP Colm Imbert. Imbert said so during his contribution to yesterday’s budget debate during the sitting of the Lower House, Tower D, Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain. He said those were the CAL prices if one bought the ticket now. Checks on the CAL Web site yesterday, however, show that the prices quoted by Imbert were for the business class for the first two weeks in December.
Prices for the economy class for the same period averaged: Toronto $4,500, Ft Lauderdale $3,500 and New York $5,400. Imbert also said Government had been “creative” with accounting.
“This whole budget is a farce... It’s all smoke and mirrors but that won’t work,” he added. He said while the budget removed CAL’s fuel subsidy for international flights, budget documents showed Government had still given CAL $400 million in transfers. Imbert said CAL had, therefore, received similar funding of $726 million in 2012 and $527 million in 2013. Altogether, he added, CAL had received almost $2 billion in backing from Government in recent years. “Yet the minister has the audacity to say they are removing the fuel subsidy and they have been assured ticket prices won’t change,” Imbert added.
Citing the prices of tickets to Canada and US cities which, he said, indicated prices had already increased, Imbert added: “Who you trying to fool?” Imbert also called on the Finance Minister as Corporation Sole to say which minister triggered Section 51 of the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) Act in relation to PTSC deputy general manager Ishwar Jadoonanan.
Noting the act states salaries over $9,600 must be approved by the minister, Imbert listed Jadoonanan’s remuneration as including almost $60,000 in salary, which, he said, the PTSC official received despite lacking a first degree. Reading from press reports, Imbert said Jadoonanan was fired from the Airport Authority in 2002 for failing to meet criteria, including lacking a degree.
Now, 11 years later, Imbert said, Jadoonanan, still without a degree, had nabbed a top PTSC package.
Reading from the Natural Gas Daily, Imbert also said Government’s agreement last week with Venezuela on the Loran Manatee gas field would see Venezuela benefiting, since the gas would be piped from T&T and sold in Venezuela. “Betrayal!” Imbert said. “Treason!” PNM leader Keith Rowley added. Imbert said the publication also reported Venezuela’s state-owned PDVSA and Chevron would begin work on the field and Venezuela planned to build a 276-km pipeline from the Loran-Manatee field to Guiria on that country’s east coast. Calling on the Government to say why it remained silent on the agreement, Imbert said while Venezuelans were celebrating the boon of the agreement where their country was concerned, he questioned T&T’s benefit, as it would have been cheaper to base the project in T&T. Imbert said despite Government’s claims about a drainage plan, “not an inch of drain was laid in Port-of-Spain.” Displaying photographs of last week’s Diego Martin floods, Imbert said drains were not cleaned and questioned the money paid out to contractors for that.