Many businessmen are afraid of the Government while energy companies resent the public tongue-lashing they have received from the administration, Caroni Central MP Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie says.
He spoke last Friday in the House of Representatives during debate on the Finance Bill 2019, to award tax-breaks mooted in the 2019-2020 budget.
“Small and medium businesses are in survival mode, seeing the only hope in the rising sun (symbol of the opposition UNC),” he said. Tewarie lamented that previously, the Government failed to first give incentives to hike productivity and then seek to raise taxes, but had done the opposite.
He claimed the energy sector is now in relative disarray. “A lot of people in the energy sector are very frightened right now.” Tewarie said the bill’s proposals were simply “too little, too late, with the damage already done.” He claimed Government’s past chiding of energy companies plus past tax-hikes had reduced that sector’s confidence.
He said the only good thing under this Government, regarding energy, was an increase in natural gas extraction but this was actually due to the former Kamla Persad-Bissessar government opening up successful bid bounds for new exploration.
Tewarie said Finance Minister Colm Imbert sometimes showed arrogance. “The abusive tone of the Government has elicited a retreat for survival by the business community. Everybody is afraid of the Government. If the Opposition was not fearless, the Rowley Government would have ran riot.”
He said the Government’s past four years in office has now seen thousands of youths unemployed. “Everybody is worried about their job” and, the rich now fear social unrest. He lamented redundancies at companies such as Petrotrin, Yara and Unilever.
Tewarie said the bill’s incentives to the energy sector would no impact. He also said the current world prices for oil and gas were below those on which the Government based recent budget, of US$60 per barrel and US$3 per MMBTU respectively.
Tewarie said the recent Central Bank Monetary Policy Review said TT is in a lot of economic and financial trouble. Referring to recent local elections and the pending 2020 general elections, he said to the public, “You made a choice a few days ago; thank you very much. You will have another choice (to make) again.”