Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP examines goods at a supermarket, in a pre-COVID-19 photo. (Image courtesy Kamla Persad-Bissessar Facebook)

“The government must take steps in the upcoming budget to lower food prices,” states Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP.

According to the Opposition Leader, the Government must to enact measures to reduce the cost of food, given the current hardship many in the country are facing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I call on the Government, in a year when many have been financially weakened, to even consider the removal of VAT on a wider variety of food items so we can ensure that our citizens do not go hungry,” she says.

The former Prime Minister made her appeal in a statement on her social media pages, observing that “thousands of citizens” across Trinidad and Tobago “won’t be able to put a meal on the table for their families”.

“We cannot allow some of our citizens to go hungry,” argues Mrs Persad-Bissessar.  “We cannot allow children to be unable to enjoy the necessity of a warm meal.”

The Opposition Leader points to when she led the Government under the People’s Partnership Administration, noting that they had made the issues of food security and low cost food top priorities. 

She is advising the Rowley Administration to do the same.

“The Government I led fought hard to ensure every table had a meal and every family had nourishment, due to projects such as our removal of VAT on over 7,000 food items and the introduction of the baby grant,” she recalls.

Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert MP.

Mrs Persad-Bissessar says while the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll this year, extreme poverty has been increasing in the last months also because of “the economic hardship, joblessness, and increasing cost of food that have plagued our nation in the last five years”.

Only recently, the Opposition Leader urged Government to avoid adding any additional tax burden on an already struggling population and business community.

The Budget Statement for 2021 will be presented to the Parliament on Monday 5 October 2020, by Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert MP.