MANAGER of Persad’s Doubles in Princes Town Priya Lutchman says doubles vendors plan to unite to fight being taxed by the government. Vendors are now hosting talks on forming a Doubles Vendors Association to deal with major issues affecting the business. “Taxing vendors will result in cutting the amount of vendors on the streets and this will lead to job loss,” Lutchman said.
She told Newsday that in the past, doubles vendors were few and as a result they made a lot of money. “Today vendors have multiplied tenfold and the income on doubles has dwindled,” Latchman said. She said in recent years, a lot of people who have been laid off from work chose doubles-vending to make a living. In Princes Town in particular there are over 50 doubles vendors in the town and on the outskirts. Persad’s, she says, ventured into doing breakfast and lunch as well as doubles in order to make a profit and keep 25 workers employed. Doubles vendor Rawl Beharry from Couva said the PNM government keeps finding ways to tax people.”
“We have property tax, tax on essential food items and now tax on doubles vendors,” Beharry said. Amin Abdullah of Craignash Village Princes Town, has been selling doubles for the past 30 years. He said it is not fair to tax doubles vendors, as sales have declined in recent years. “If we are made to pay tax, then we will have to cut down on workforce,” Abdullah said.
Abdullah said Ali’s doubles was producing 50 per cent less than five years ago. He said the profit on a doubles is just $1, as it cost $4 to produce a doubles owing to the cost of channa, oil and flour and sauce or chutney. Three years ago doubles was sold for $2 and today it cost $4 and $5, he said, and today doubles vendors sell just enough to survive, with few becoming rich.
Pundit Satyanand Maharaj of Tunapuna, who commented on the issue on social media, said Angelique Bart’s claim that the doubles vendor earns tens of thousands of dollars a month but does not pay taxes, is yet another attempt by the one per cent to burden the working man with taxation, while they remain untouched.
Satyanand says the life of a doubles vendor is very difficult. “The doubles vendor’s day begins at 2 am with making of channa and bara, and continues later into the night with members of the family taking shifts.” Maharaj said doubles vendors are regularly robbed or in extreme cases, are killed. The doubles vendor, he says, is on the street under blazing sun and driving rain.