MINISTER in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West says legislation will be coming soon for the Revenue Authority (TTRA), “which is absolutely essential to stop the billion-dollar leakage of tax revenue and tax avoidance that is prevalent in TT today.”
In piloting debate in the Senate yesterday on the Variation of Appropriation Bill, which included the TTRA, West said as with the property tax regime, progress has been made in finalising the structure of the TTRA. She reported that after seeking advice from “eminent senior counsel,” it was decided the legislation is best passed with a special majority.
She further reported it would be sent to a joint select committee and looked forward to comments, contributions and recommendations from the Independent and Opposition benches. “This major institutional reform would underpin our efforts to stem the revenue collection leakages now inherent at the levels of the Board of Inland Revenue and the Customs and Excise Division and also to strengthen our compliance-risk-management methodologies.”
She said the full benefits of the reform with the TTRA would be seen in the next fiscal year. West also commented on the property tax, on which the two amendment bills were recently passed in the Senate, reiterating the moratorium on payment had been extended to September 2017 and property taxes would become due and payable on September of each year.
“There will be no retroactive application of the property tax,” she said. She said it was this administration’s prudent and diligent management of the fiscal deficits, foreign exchange, inflation and interest rates “which bear testimony in maintaining economic stability in these very challenging times.” She added these conditions were necessary to ensure unemployment remained at reasonable levels, saying the third quarter of 2017 recorded an unemployment level of 5.3 per cent.
“This is no small feat, given the situation we inherited in 2015.” She said between 2013 and 2016 economic growth was less than desirable and wavered between one per cent and minus six per cent. She reported because of the better-than-expected increases in national gas production in the second half of 2017, the GDP figures for 2017 were being revised upwards.