Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 10th 2014 Contents GAIL ALEXANDER
Maxi taxi operators who purchased 25-
seater vehicles in previous years will be
getting $35 million in rebates from the
2015 budget, as the People s Partnership
(PP) Government seeks to honour a tax-
waiver commitment made by the former
People s National Movement (PNM)
administration but which was outstanding
for the last nine years.
Trade, Industry and Investment Minister,
and Minister in the Ministry of Finance
Vasant Bharath confirmed the situation yes-
terday, after Finance Minister Larry Howai
announced the concession for such maxi
operators in Monday s budget speech. Howai
had said the outstanding payment was owed
to drivers since 2005 and would be made.
Allocation by the Finance Ministry of $35
million to make the payment is contained
in the draft estimates of recurrent expen-
diture, one of several budget documents.
The document states the payment is in lieu
of remission of taxes.
Bharath told T&T Guardian that a com-
mitment had been made by the PNM gov-
ernment in 2005 to waive taxes and VAT
on purchase of 25-seater maxi taxis.
However, Bharath said the Finance Min-
istry s information was that the refunds
owed to the operators of such vehicles had
never been paid. He said the move to deal
with the outstanding issue was made in
response to representations by six maxi taxi
Yesterday, the Finance Ministry received
from Eon Hewitt, representing executive
members of the Association of Maxi Taxi
operators of all the routes, thanking Gov-
ernment for the rebate and seeking a meet-
ing to work out the logistics of the pay-
In the e-mail Hewitt stated: "The last
48 hours has been a wonderful experience
for us as executive members of the Asso-
ciation of Maxi Taxis in this bless (sic) twin
island. The journey was long and bitter but
as we come to the end, the roses start to
bloom, hearts racing and wives counting.
"Gentlemen, can we look forward to sit-
ting down and working out the matrix to
bring this issue to a satisfactory conclusion
in the near future? On behalf of all six routes
and the association executives, we wish to
thank you all for bringing nine years of
uncertainty to this point of success. All the
best for your future endeavors. Much
Contacted yesterday on why the PNM,
during its tenure, had not met the com-
mitment to the maxi operators in 2005, for-
mer PNM Works Minister Colm Imbert said
"a lot of things."
PNM deputy leader Marlene McDonald
said she didn t know anything about the
arrangement the PNM had with the maxi
owners in 2005 since she had entered the
government in 2007.
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Approximately 400 maxi taxi owners will
benefit from the VAT and Motor Vehicle Tax
rebate announced by the Minister of Finance
Larry Howai during Monday s budget.
The rebate was promised to the Route Two
Maxi Taxi Association since 2005 and was given
as an incentive for maxi taxi owners to purchase
25-seater maxis instead of 18-seaters, in an
attempt to ease congestion on the nation s roads.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday,
the association s president Linus Phillip welcomed
the rebate initiative, saying it was long overdue.
"This is something for which we have been
fighting for the past eight years and to see this
Government finally concede and give it to us, it
is welcoming news."
Maxi taxi owners are expected to get a rebate
between $85,000 and $113,000, he said.
But Phillip said people who bought maxis from
2005 to 2014 and subsequently sold those vehicles
would not qualify for the rebate as they would
have sold their maxis at the market value. Maxis
under the brand names Mitsubishi Rosa and
Toyota, he said, were usually purchased at
$625,000 showroom price.
Phillip said the association was not sure if VAT
and the Motor Vehicle Tax would be exempted
for those purchasing now.
"We are still in a grey area with respect to
that and this is where we will have to meet with
the Ministry of Finance to discuss further and
iron out the details."
Maxi taxi driver and owner Linton Robinson
expressed happiness on hearing the news of the
rebate yesterday. He said he bought two maxis
within the past four years.
"This is very good because the price of main-
tenance for these vehicles is very high. The rebate
will help me pay the installment."
400 owners in
line to collect
President of the Route Two Maxi Taxi Association
Maxi owners on $35m tax rebate:
Meanwhile, budget documents also lists
transfers from the Finance Ministry for
Caribbean Airlines to the tune of $718 million,
a $465.2 million increase over the transfer
level for 2014.
Funds include $11.3 million for CAL's debt
servicing in 2015.
Documents on draft estimates of
development programmes list an allocation of
$75.3 million for the Police Service, which has
its own funding.
Recurrent expenditure for the National
Operations Centre, which co-ordinates security
operations, has also been placed under the
Prime Minister's Office. Its 2015 level is $355.6
Recurrent expenditure is also listed under
National Security for the Implementation
Agency for Crime and Security to the tune of
$13 million and $135 million for the Strategic
A new item, the Cyber Security Programme,
is also being introduced in National Security
with a $3.8 million injection.
New bodies being established in the budget
for 2015 include the Finance Ministry's
supervisor of insolvency, with $669,000 for
recurrent expenditure. A further $1.8 million
and $1.5 million are listed for the office of the
supervisor and equipment.
Another being established in the Energy
Ministry is a quarry authority to oversee
activities on quarrying. Some $1.7 million is
allocated as start-up funding. There are
decreases in recurrent expenditure for all
regional corporations. (GA)
Maxi taxi driver Linton Robinson welcomed the good news of a rebate announced in
Monday's budget during an interview with the T&T Guardian at City Gate, Port-of-Spain,
yesterday. PHOTOS: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
CARIBBEAN AIRLINES GETS $718M
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