PRESIDENT of the TT Automotive Dealers Association (TTADA) Visham Babwah said he is not in favour of the proposed $350,000 cap on tax exemptions for new vehicles for office holders including the Prime Minister.
Babwah said if ordinary citizens now have to pay all taxes and duties that come with importing a new car, then Cabinet ministers, non-Cabinet ministers, the Opposition Leader and MPs should not get to keep their concessions.
“If the law is good for the ordinary citizens, then it should be good for these people who are now enjoying that privilege,” Babwah said in an interview with the Newsday.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert has proposed October 20 as the date for this new law to go into effect, but Babwah is appealing for the original date of December 31 to remain.
“Then we can have discussions as to the way forward from January 2021,” Babwah said.
He explained dealers already have shipment of vehicles on their way to TT which would reach after October 20 and they do not want to break any laws.
Imbert announced the removal of tax concessions for importing new private vehicles in his 2020/2021 budget presentation on October 5 as a means of conserving foreign exchange and reducing the number of cars on the road.
Mounting pressure from the public opposed to public officials keeping their concessions may have led Dr Keith Rowley during his contribution to the budget debate to propose capping tax exemptions for this special category of people at $350,000. He said the existing tax breaks for judges will remain untouched.
“We are saying this is a total disrespect to the citizens. The government said the US currency should be used for either cars or medicine. They tell ordinary citizens you now have to pay 50 per cent more taxes on vehicles, but you want to give exemptions to MPs and still using the same US dollars,” Babwah said.
“My association is saying if it is good for all citizens, then it should also be good for this category of people who enjoy this privilege at this time.”