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Dookeran sees political cost to property tax
While there is a “political cost” to the 2014 budget’s property tax, it was meant to create sustainability for the future, former Congress of the People (COP) leader Winston Dookeran said yesterday. Dookeran, Foreign Affairs Minister and former finance minister, was speaking in yesterday’s budget debate in Parliament, Tower D, Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
He said the Government had the courage now to take the tax on board and build sustainable tax revenue. The COP had pioneered the “Axe the Tax” campaign in 2010 against the PNM’s proposed property tax hikes.
After a moratorium since 2010, the 2014 budget reinstituted the land and building tax to be introduced in a phased basis between 2014-2017. Dookeran also hit PNM leader Keith Rowley’s budget statements, saying in the current global turbulence T&T cannot afford to look back and return to failed PNM policies, such as the Vision 2020/2030 plan Rowley had articulated. Saying while one can look backwards to try to build for the future, one should not turn back to things done in the past, Dookeran added: “If you are trying to build the future by going backwards, you are saying when you are returned to office whenever that will be, you will turn the clock back and return to those failed policies that brought T&T to where it was. It’s frightening to see that line of thought.”
“Markets are unstable, investments are skimpy. We can’t go back to take up from where we left off.” Referring to the PNM’s rapid rail project, Dookeran said while he agreed “there is need for something,” the project could not have worked as the infrastructure cost was 50 per cent of T&T’s revenue. Dookeran said when Rowley predicated his entire budget reply on the wrong assumption about Government, Rowley was therefore wrong. He dismissed Rowley’s bid to claim PNM ownership of T&T’s development, saying everyone in T&T contributed to it. On the present Government’s management, Dookeran said T&T started from below zero, regarding the financial situation and was today where “we can claim we can sustain growth in four years.”
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