Sadly, though hardly unsurprisingly, the 8th Summit of the Americas hosted in Peru last week came and went with precious little fanfare out of Port-of-Spain.
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Parliament 2017 ends with appeal for the poor
Help poor parents! The 2017 year of Parliament ended last Friday with an appeal from UNC MP Ramona Ramdial for Government to ease the burden on poor parents by exempting baby and child care products from Customs duties.
The message of seasonal spirit—also in sync with the economic climate—came during Ramdial's contribution to debate on a motion. This sought to exempt from Customs duty items ranging from industry to tourism and agricultural products.
That debate took place during the last sitting of Parliament for 2017. The Upper House ended the year last Tuesday when it was adjourned to a date to be fixed. Last Friday's Lower House session was also the last for 2017. Parliament resumes early January 2018.
During the debate on the motion, Ramdial noted that only baby milk is exempted from Customs duties.
She, however, cited recent reports of thieves stealing baby milk from a grocery, but not money or alcohol.
Ramdial added, "It's disheartening to see that baby milk was the targeted item. It shows a changing trend—including how criminals operate.
"We've seen increases in single mothers. Government should exempt from Customs duty all products concerning child rearing and baby care.
"It'll at least help your campaign," she urged Government.
"When we (PP administration) were in office, we had the Baby Grant. Every single mother could afford to buy baby milk."
Ramdial said the PNM administration after two years in office couldn't continue blaming the past Government for problems.
"Up to recently, I saw the Prime Minister playing 'victim' saying his character was attacked during the anti-gang debate. But Government has a duty to citizens to deal with what's necessary. However, we're not seeing improvements."
She called for Government to say if the planned Sandals resort will be a 2018 plan since the Prime Minister has said T&T is now lower down Sandals' priorities. "I hoped Sandals backed down because the Prime Minister drove a hard bargain in T&T's best interests at the negotiation table."
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