'Buy million-dollar cars at your own expense'

Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis. PHOTO COURTESY THA -
Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis. PHOTO COURTESY THA -

Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis and Minority leader Watson Duke are in agreement with a suggestion to limit tax exemptions on luxury vehicles for MPs and other public officers.

Last week the Prime Minister, during the budget debate in Parliament, said the Cabinet will consider a $350,000 cap on vehicle-tax exemptions for all public office holders – except judges. Dr Rowley said he is concerned that the exemptions were being abused to regularly buy vehicles costing millions of dollars.

Directing his comments to the Opposition Rowley said, "When your colleagues buy a vehicle for $2 million and enjoy a million in tax exemption and the vehicle is for the use of someone else, then we need to look at exemptions."

There was an outcry from the public, calling on the Government to make sacrifices too, after Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced the removal of tax concessions on most private vehicles, in an effort to reduce the leakage of foreign exchange as well as the number of vehicles on the road.

UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on October 9 called on the Government to work with the Opposition to find a remedy.

Speaking to Newsday on Tuesday, Dennis said, "The exemptions are part of the remuneration package of office holders, but it is currently open to abuse. I’m in agreement with a limit to the exemptions offered so that those who wish to buy million-dollar vehicles must do so at their own expense."

Asked if he ever used the tax exemptions, Dennis said in 2013 he bought a Hyundai Santa Fe, and a Porsche Macan two years later.

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke is against the tax exemptions, given the current economic state of the country.

Duke said on Tuesday, "I think the ministers are protecting their own interest and it is contrary to the Constitution of TT, that speaks about amassing wealth generated by a country and using that to practise social justice.

"There is no social justice in the Cabinet ministers giving themselves vulgar tax breaks while the man on the street is made to pay more for buying an economically feasible vehicle called a hybrid. It is wrong and it resembles the kind of thing the devil will do to people to provoke them to riot."

Duke said he has never used the perk.

"I have never accessed nor attempted to access the exemptions, and I would not. I believe in relieving the poor from from its financial burdens, and one way to do that is to have more money in the kitty to go around for all of us, (rather) than for me to reduce the money in the kitty by using vulgar amounts to spend on my vanity projects or vanity pursuits."


"'Buy million-dollar cars at your own expense'"

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