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Devant Maharaj

The United National Congress’ (UNC’s) Devant Maharaj has slammed Finance Minister Colm Imbert for clamping down vehicle importation and removing tax breaks to obtain vehicles, while Parliamentarians continue to receive tax concessions on motor vehicles.

A November 2019 letter from the ministry to the Customs and Excise Division stated Imbert, like all other Parliamentarians, was exempted from Value Added Tax (VAT), and motor vehicle and customs duty fees totalling $454,833.27 on a Mercedes Benz GLE 450.

The letter stated the car cost $819,570.92.

Minister Imbert didn’t respond to queries yesterday.

Maharaj said other ministers also had similar purchases.

He added, “It’s unfortunate while they were able to use their tax breaks to buy luxury vehicles, they’ve now preventing people to even enjoy a vehicle or get tax breaks as before. Maybe they can give up their luxury vehicles to show solidarity with the people who now can’t get a vehicle.”

Meanwhile, the UNC’s Couva South MP, Rudranath Indarsingh said the budget would bring further hardship and unemployment to people.

“Labour would face the hardest battle in the coming year. The Budget is deceptive in its content as many would be sent home because of its measures.”

“The savings that would accrue from the increased tax exemption limit to $84,000 would only bring temporary relief as Government stands to take more from citizens than it actually gives. This will be evidenced when the property taxation comes into effect. The trade union movement would suffer when gas stations close, putting a further dent in the OWTU (Oilfield Workers Trade Union).”

Also speaking yesterday, UNC St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen, described the 2021 Budget as “a sad rehash of five years of broken PNM promises”.

“Not one word on Local Government and Local Government reform or initiatives to bring relief to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Local Government agencies, as the ones closest to citizens, can play a significant role in bringing relief during the pandemic by regular sanitization of public places, identifying social needs and ensuring resources reach the most vulnerable,” she said.

She added, “A main concern by many especially university graduates, was that there was no form of job creation initiatives whatsoever. Constituents are hard hit due to loss of jobs and slow pace of business. They’re being evicted because they can no longer afford rent nor gain access to rental assistance grants.

“Small businesses are folding, families struggling to put food on the table and parents struggling to purchase devices so children can access education.”