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Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Vasant Bharath have warned Government against implementing the property tax in today’s 20201 Budget presentation. And former PNM Public Utilities minister Robert Le Hunte is also looking at what PNM colleaguue Colm Imbert will present in the Budget today to put more money into the hands of working people.

Finance Minister Imbert recently said the property tax won’t be postponed.

Persad-Bissessar, in a social media post last Friday, recalled that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, in 20o9 while in Opposition, had argued vehemently that people were not in a position to afford the property tax.

Persad-Bissessar asked, “Today, following five years of PNM mismanagement, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the people are at a much worse position than they were in 2009. As Rowley then said, ‘Stop taking your own advice that no one is annoyed with the tax!’ The Government has been irresponsible with the nation’s finances for the past five years and now expect the people to bail them out once again?!”

She again appealed, “Remember your words prime minister, remember people are struggling. Have a heart and hold on implementing the property tax on an already battered population!”

After Imbert speaks today, Persad-Bissessar will continue Budget debate on Friday.

Yesterday, Bharath estimated property tax revenue may be about $300 million and collection would further squeeze citizens and businesses who’ve already seen significant decline in revenue.

“This tax at this time won’t increase economic activity, which is what’s needed, it will slow it down. Government should be seeking ways to increase economic activity,” Bharath said.

He recommended Government halt collection of corporate tax, income tax and VAT for six months to give people and businesses a chance to recuperate, pay debts or hire people and this would generate economic activity. After this period, collection can restart.

Meanwhile, Le Hunte, who resigned as a minister in July, said people will want to see signals in the Budget that T&T was being put back together after the year’s problems. He said he was waiting to see how Imbert would dampen demand for luxury items, whether by tax or licensing mechanism.

“I also feel he needs mechanisms to put more money in the hands of working people,”

Le Hunte said.