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Thursday 20 June 2019
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Long lines to drop off documents

WITH only one location to drop off their documents from the Board of Inland Revenue as proof of their 2017 income tax returns, former Petrotrin workers were fuming about the process yesterday.

From about 8 am they gathered and formed long lines at the Guaracara Sports Club at Pointe-a-Pierre as part of the termination payment process. Once the documents show that the recently terminated workers’ tax statuses are in good standing, they will get tax exemptions on their severance payments.

"There should have been other drop-off points. We had to leave Point Fortin very early this morning to come here and lined up just to sign a piece of paper and drop off our documents. Everyone has to come to this one location. It is unfair," said Harvey Richards.

Himraj Basdeo, who lives at Fyzabad, expressed disappointment, saying at least staff from the now-defunct Petrotrin or its newly replaced companies — Heritage Petroleum and Paria Fuel Trading — should have been present, to oversee the process.

"Someone in authority should come down here and say something. You cannot treat people like that. It is human beings you are dealing with," Basdeo said.

There was a heavy traffic pile-up in the nearby communities like Marabella and Vistabella and the workers complained that it added to the already chaotic process in which they had to line up in unsheltered areas.

"Big people are lining up as if we are going for food. We built this place and people are frustrated here. The card box we are putting the envelopes in is like a garbage box. These are personal documents we have to throw in this box. Where it is going from there, no one knows. That is total stupidness," Basdeo said.

The media were not allowed inside the club but saw the box on the ground with a security officer nearby.

Some of the people in the lines were unwell, but there was no alternative arrangement, so they too remained standing in the sun until they reached inside.

Like other former Petrotrin workers, Basdeo accused the Government of using "delaying tactics" in the payment process.

Many workers accused the Government of treating them like dogs, saying last Friday’s closure of Petrotrin will negatively affect "every citizen."

"They are sending home skilled workers. Look how many skilled people you are putting on the breadline," a visibly angry man said.

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