Kamla Insists: PNM to Increase VAT, Others

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is attempting to prove that the government is indeed considering the increase of taxes including the Value Added Tax (VAT). 

On Monday evening, she produced a document – Cabinet Note No. 1032 dated May 21, 2024, to make her point.


Speaking at a United National Congress (UNC) Star team meeting at the Kanhai Presbyterian Primary School in Barrackpore, Persad-Bissessar asked if Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley does not read his Cabinet notes. 

Referring to the debate on the mid-year budget review that took place in Parliament on Friday, Persad-Bissessar said the treasury was bankrupt and that government was proposing to increase taxes in order to gain additional revenue. 

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However, Dr Rowley dismissed her statements saying she was attempting to mislead the public and that there was no discussion on the increase of VAT. 

Lifting a document in her hand at the meeting, Persad-Bissessar said, “Tonight I have the document that supposedly doesn’t exist. Here is the proof, Cabinet Note 1032, with appendices 1 to 4.” 

Based on information revealed in the document, the total estimated revenue would be $2.713 billion  if government implemented all the proposed measures. 


Reading extensively from the document entitled Supplementary Appropriation Act, 2024, Persad-Bissessar quoted, “Notwithstanding the need to increase FY24’s expenditure by TT$1,383.0 to ensure the delivery of the aforementioned essential services to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, government is mindful of the possible effect of such disbursement, and its impact on the economy.” 

“As a consequence, further revenue generating measures.. They want money like a piper… are under consideration and may be instituted at a later date. As such additional appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that there is no divergence from its existing prudent fiscal management.” 

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Moving along to Appendix IV of that Cabinet note Persad-Bissessar went on to list the revenue generating measures. 

These include:  

  • Expenditure earned on Exempt Income: $75 million 
  • New Tax Bracket for High Income Individuals: $90 million 
  • New Tax Brackets for Commercial Banks: $86 million 
  • Introduction of a Tier Taxation System 
  • Corporation Tax — Petrochemical Companies: $65 million 
  • Presumptive Taxation: $90 million  
  • Tax Amnesty: $800 million 
  • Revised Penalties to ensure Compliance with the Board of Inland Revenue: $20 million 
  • Tax Administration: Recruit 100 short-term officers. Conduct a series of compliance exercises to generate immediate tax revenue. $350 million. 

Persad-Bissessar emphasised, “VAT Rate Amendment: For every 1% increase in the VAT  $560 Million VAT revenue is estimated to be earned. An increase in the VAT rate to 15% can result in an additional revenue of $1.4 Billion earned annually once properly administered.” 

She said, “Mr Rowley I did not make that up. It is in your note that  that you will be considering instituting all these measures.” 

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Other measures include income tax and corporation tax, business levy, a new drug application fee and potential revenue from the adjustment of the electricity tariff rate.  

There were also two reductions proposals in expenditure measures relating to social programmes. 

Persad-Bissessar also read from an affidavit by Finance Minister Colm Imbert filed in the Court of Appeal that lists the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority (TTRA) as an interested party. 

She said Imbert admitted what she has been saying for some time that Trinidad and Tobago’s  credit rating was in crisis because of poor management and there was a desperate need to increase the tax take to prevent downgrading by international agencies. 

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She then proceeded to outline the UNC’s plans for a better economy, more specifically her STAR team’s plans for economic growth. 

Persad-Bissessar said the other team has brought no policy to the UNC membership and was only focused on themselves. 

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The UNC leader pointed out that during the debate, no UNC Member of Parliament on the other slate- the United Patriots contributed to the debate as they “hide behind my dress tail in Parliament,” she said. 

And she again encouraged supporters to vote for the UNC candidates in the upcoming bye-elections next week.


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