OROPOUCHE WEST MP Davendranath Tancoo alleged that the Government was doing a very poor job in running the economy as both businesses and citizens had suffered, speaking on Friday on the Finance Bill in the House of Representatives. He said that instead of aiding new business activity to earn revenues, the Government was seeking to get income by way of taxes, fines and borrowings.
Tancoo said under Finance Minister Colm Imbert the small and micro enterprise sector has collapsed, even as private citizens have suffered severe personal distress and economic trauma.
"The Minister of Finance should have come here with a plan to help people in this country but he has failed so to do." He accused Imbert of six years of financial mismanagement.
Tancoo said Imbert was only offering, "tax, fine and borrowing" as the only way to fund his "profligate spending."
He said the Government was bankrupt of ideas. "They are unable to find new ways of generating employment, new ways of creating investment, new ways of generating revenue streams so they can pay back the money they have been borrowing so glibly."
Tancoo said the Government had not created a nurturing environment for existing businesses, far less for potential new businesses. He said a World Bank report listed TT as now being at its lowest ever rank for the ease of doing businesses. He called for a re-start of the full construction sector (not just government construction), so people could fix their homes for the rainy season.
"Instead in everything this minister has done he has created a sort of dependency. He has created a situation where they want people to be in disadvantageous positions. They want citizens to line up.
"When it is not lining up for pensions, it is lining up for vaccines, it is lining up to change money, it is lining up to get food, Madam Speaker.
"They have forced us to become dependent on the State."
Tancoo urged more support for agriculture which he said was a very viable sector.
He sought details on how much money Imbert was seeking in the tax amnesty and what did he plan to use it for.
"This Government has so mismanaged the economy that we are now in a position where the Government is desperate for money, seeking to pick up money, absorb money, to mop up money, wherever it can, however it can.
"That is a dangerous and desperate state to be in."
Tancoo accused the Government of having maxed out its funds, as he noted the rise in its borrowing limit under the Development Loans Act from $55 billion to $65 billion now, came after a rise in 2019 from $45 billion to $55 billion, and a rise in 2016 from $30 billion to $45 billion.
He asked why the Government was not taking a hard approach to tackle illegal quarrying which he said was a low-hanging fruit.
Of the liberalisation of the retailing of gasoline, he warned that the new policy could create a monopoly at the pump which could lead to very high prices for drivers.