Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 24th 2015 Contents Miguel Moses
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Monday, August 24, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
SANTA ROSA PROCESSION
With oil prices now under $40
dollars barrel, political parties
must be realistic about how they
prepare for the post-election
budget, former president of the
Supermarkets Association Bal-
liram Maharaj said yesterday.
"We are now hearing political
proposals by the political parties.
When one hears about the proposal
of $45 a barrel on which to base
the budget, it shows a lot of home-
work has to be done on that.
"They cannot at this stage give
a number as it is so unpredictable.
I would prefer to see an average
of $35 a barrel," Maharaj said yes-
terday after attending the cere-
mony and street procession on the
229th anniversary of the Feast of
Santa Rosa at the Arima Roman
Catholic Church, Arima.
On Friday, oil prices fell below
US$40 a barrel, the lowest since
the global economic crisis in 2009.
Making a note of this, Maharaj,
who is also CEO of ADM Distrib-
utors, said a lot of the issues that
are important to citizens are not
being discussed on the political
platform during election cam-
"I want to see, over the next two
weeks, issues that affect the coun-
try and the world come out. I am
not hearing the issues," he said.
Maharaj s son, Ishwar Maharaj,
is the owner of Hearty Foods
Supermarket, which was destroyed
by fire last week, leaving 200
workers on the breadline.
Maharaj said his son s business
could have been saved if there was
water in the hydrants and it was
issues like these that politicians
should be discussing.
"Could you imagine if we had
water we could have saved a $100
million property there? If we had
water there we would have saved
that building," he said.
"Unfortunately, these are the
serious issues at hand. We do not
know what caused the fire and
investigations are going on."
Parties must be realistic
in planning budget
Former Supermarkets' Association president:
A member of the Santa Rosa First People's Community walks along Queen
Street, Arima, during a procession at the Santa Rosa Roman Catholic
Community's 229th anniversary celebration of the Feast of Santa Rosa,
yesterday. PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
The People s National Movement (PNM) has
rejected the views of University of the West Indies
(UWI) lecturer, Dr Roger Hosein, that their pledge
to reduce VAT by 2.5 per cent, from 15 per cent to
12.5, within their first year in office will result in
loss of revenue for the country.
The party made the comment via a media release
yesterday in response to a Sunday Guardian story,
in which Hosein said the proposed reduction in VAT
was a bad idea since it will result in the loss of over
$5 billion in revenue over a five-year period.
The PNM called Hosein s opinion "unempirical
"His statements about VAT fly in the face of reality
and are merely a word-for-word regurgitation of state-
ments made on UNC platforms by UNC spokesmen,
who are clearly terrified at the political goodwill that
has resulted from the forward-looking and progressive
measures in the PNM s comprehensive manifesto.
"Clearly, the UNC and its friends have no interest
in lowering the cost of living in T&T. In desperation,
as their imminent defeat looms, they are grasping
at any straw in an attempt to boost their dwindling
stocks," the PNM said.
The party also called Hosein s statements "politically
charged," noting Hosein has done no analysis or
examination of the history of tax reform in T&T.
"He has ignored the fact that after the PNM adjust-
ed the income tax regime in 2006, by increasing the
personal allowance from $24,000 per year to $60,000
per year and reducing the overall tax rate to 25 per
cent, the collection of personal income tax increased
by over 50 per cent, from $4 billion to over $6 billion,"
the PNM said.
"Further, it is an indisputable fact that the pro-
gressive lowering of tax rates in T&T over the last
30 years has resulted in a quantum leap in tax col-
lections and an exponential increase in revenue.
"Any economist worth his salt will know that, and
it is disappointing that a senior lecturer at UWI could
make the irresponsible statements."
The PNM also said it was the same Hosein, who,
towards the end of 2014, had praised Finance Minister
Larry Howai for basing the 2015 Budget on what he
described at the time as a "conservative" oil price
of $80 barrel.
He also said the tragedy had also
highlighted the shortage of labour in
the country, since other business
people have been calling him about
hiring the 200 workers who were
"For the 200 workers affected, we
have over 2000 people requesting
from different companies. Now we
do not have enough workers to
transfer to other companies.
"Our friends in the business
community are calling us for these
workers. It shows that we do not
have workers in this country," he
He also said half of the business
people in the country want guns but
there is no proper board or authority
to issue firearms.
"If the criminals have guns why
should the business people be
deprived? I am not hearing this.
"The process should be similar to
when you apply for a visa and there
is a proper formula. There should be
a committee or board and apply to
the board with a prescribed form
and if some one is entitled to a gun,
then give it to him."
On the topic of gay marriages, he
said more people should take a
stance on the issue.
"We need to have more
discussion on this. What are we
going to do? It will negatively impact
the next generation. However, it
should remain a personal issue
without being openly promoted," he
Last week, Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar said any changes
to the existing law on abortion, gay
rights and marijuana use will have to
be determined by the citizens after
She gave the response during the
question and answer session at
Friday's luncheon organised by the
Powerful Ladies of T&T (Plott) at
the T&T Chamber of Commerce in
OFFERS FOR HEARTY FOOD WORKERS
PNM slams UWI economist's claim on VAT plan
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