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'Imbert Failed to Deal with Crime' - Greater Tunapuna Chamber
Amidst assertions by Finance Minister Colm Imbert that economic instability is over, the Greater Tunapuna Chamber of Commerce believes the worst is yet to come because of the spiralling crime rate and foreign exchange shortfalls.
In a statement, President Surindra Maharaj said Imbert failed to address three of the major issues plaguing the business community and the society when he presented the mid-year budget review in Parliament on Thursday.
These include the "out of control crime situation, ease of doing business, locally, regionally and internationally and the lack of foreign exchange."
Speaking about the crime spike, Maharaj said, "Despite an allocation of over $200 million dollars to various Ministries, none was set aside for the National Security Ministry. In fact, the Finance Minister made no mention of the crime situation and the domino effect it continues to have on the citizenry of this nation, and how it plagues overall economic growth.:
He said it is not easy doing business.
"The backbone of any country’s economy remains the enterprises that fuel spending. The Finance Minister boasted of a $1.3 billion improvement in net collections of corporate tax. While the GTCIC applauds improvements to the present tax collection system, we also query the lack of incentives for small entrepreneurs and businesses to assist in their daily operations," Maharaj added.
He also said Imbert spoke for almost an hour "yet he failed to mention the shortage of US currency within the financial institutions across the country."
"The GTCIC is calling on Government to address the forex issue with all due haste. In addition to this, we are also proposing a sanctioned initiative allocating special tax deductions for manufacturers who earn this country valuable foreign exchange," Maharaj said.
He also questioned the veracity of the statistics and figures given by Imbert.
"The reality on the ground level for the GTCIC, the national business community and the citizens of our country remains dark, made bleaker by the Finance Minister’s inflated optimism," Maharaj added.
He also said while the GTCIC wanted to share in the Finance Minister’s optimism, "the fact remains this country’s economic stability is solely based on growth in the energy sector."
" That growth, again, is purely minimal, at 2.2 percent in 2019 and 2.5 in 2020," Maharaj noted. He said the Chamber had noted government's actions to limit public expenditure,but added, " By the end of March 2018 the expected figure stood at $21.65 billion, 15 percent lower than initially projected. Overall projected deficit for 2018 is $4.2 billion, over $500 million lower than budgeted."
He also said government on waivers of the property tax and its retroactive application was a positive step.
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