George: Make Tobago VAT free

The To­ba­go Busi­ness Cham­ber is call­ing for the re­moval of Val­ue Added Tax (VAT) from goods on the is­land.

“If the 12.5 per cent VAT is re­moved it will en­cour­age greater in­vest­ment in To­ba­go. Per­sons will come and set up busi­ness­es or come to re­tire,” Cham­ber head Mar­tin George said in an au­dio re­sponse to the 2019/2020 Bud­get.

George, who had mixed re­views to the bud­getary mea­sures an­nounced by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert on Mon­day, ap­plaud­ed the in­crease in wages for CEPEP and URP work­ers but crit­i­cised the lack of ac­tion on the For­eign In­vest­ment Act which re­stricts the acreages of land, num­ber of shares, deben­tures and di­rec­tor­ships non-na­tion­als can hold.

He said he was “dis­ap­point­ed to see the bulk of To­ba­go’s al­lo­ca­tion go to­wards gra­tu­itous spend­ing” as “90 per cent” went to re­cur­rent ex­pen­di­ture.

‘(This) leaves very lit­tle left for cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture, in­fra­struc­tur­al de­vel­op­ment and in­vest­ment in build­ing up the busi­ness­es which will build the ca­pac­i­ty of To­ba­go,” George said.

He said Gov­ern­ment should place greater em­pha­sis on cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture, there­by al­low­ing the pri­vate sec­tor to grow and cre­ate more jobs.

George was hap­py to see an in­crease in the min­i­mum wage and salaries for CEPEP and URP work­ers and ini­tia­tives such as day­care fa­cil­i­ties for sin­gle moth­ers and the con­struc­tion of 6,000 new homes. He said he hoped To­bag­o­ni­ans are part of the hous­ing ini­tia­tive.

While he was pleased about plans to build a new hos­pi­tal at Rox­bor­ough, George called on Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment to ad­dress the chal­lenges at the Scar­bor­ough Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal.

“We are call­ing up­on the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, we are call­ing up­on the THA, to lob­by the Gov­ern­ment to have that Act re­pealed. With that Act re­pealed you will have an in­flow of in­vest­ment in­to the is­land. It’s al­so go­ing to as­sist with the for­eign in­vest­ment prob­lem,” he said.

As it re­lates to in­ter­is­land trav­el, George called for bet­ter man­age­ment of the air and sea bridge.

“Make that tourism ex­pe­ri­ence be­gin from the time you en­ter the port. They need to pro­vide prop­er wifi. They need to pro­vide prop­er restau­rants, prop­er fa­cil­i­ties so that peo­ple can re­lax while they are await­ing their fer­ries,” he said.

 

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