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Bridge the gap

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Now the Easter break is over, the tourism industry in Tobago will be counting the opportunities lost due to the collapse of the seabridge and the airbridge’s limitations.

Let’s not get too excited about calls for additional financial help for Tobago (an economy already very dependent on taxpayers dollars). But if Tobago’s tourism forms a big part of the Government’s plans to diversify the economy, our leaders have a funny way of demonstrating their commitment by mismanaging the transport links between the islands.

The rule is simple: tourists (domestic and international) will stay away if basic services like transport are not to be trusted, putting both Trinidad and Tobago at a considerable disadvantage in a ruthlessly competitive industry.

Fix the tax gap

A recent report on tax revenue in Latin American and the Caribbean by leading international organisations – including the OECD, the UN’s ECLAC and the IDB – has shown that, apart from Cuba, countries in the region collect less tax as a proportion of GDP than the rich world’s average. That’s where the good news (at least for the taxpayer) ends.

More relevant perhaps for us is that, between 2015 and 2016, T&T’s tax revenue as a proportion of GDP saw a drop of nearly 8 percentage points – the biggest fall in the region and no doubt a direct consequence of the collapse in energy-related tax receipts and the overall slowing down of the economy.

The statistics are a stark reminder of why diversification is so important to make the economy more stable. Time for the government to focus on this instead of seeking the easy but misguided path of further taxing the productive sector.

Autism Awareness

The marking of Autism Awareness Day may have been somewhat overshadowed by yesterday’s public holiday but the issue remains a big one, despite considerable progress already being made.

Access to modern and effective therapies can go a long way towards making the most of the talent of our autistic children, paving the way for them to live a happy and fulfilling life. Civil society is already doing a lot to address this but it’s time for the government to also do its part so that support isn’t left only for charities and NGOs.

In the words of the Autism Parents Association of T&T’s president, Maria Borde, ‘a society that cares and embraces differences is a society that will prosper’. This newspaper couldn’t express it any better.


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