ASSERTING that Government has no recovery plan for the country post-covid19, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said her UNC party has one, and is ready to take over the management of Trinidad and Tobago
She said while people are jobless and families are going hungry, even as Finance Minister Colm Imbert says billions are being spent on covid19 relief, “the PNM has no recovery plan.
“All we had was fake road-map scam.”
For months, she said, businesses have remained stagnant without a single incentive or lifeline to survive.
“How are they expected to keep people employed? What is your plan to prevent the mass closure of businesses due to the lockdown?
"The PNM has created a second pandemic – an economic pandemic."
Fortunately, she said, “The UNC has a plan for recovery and growth post-covid and is ready to take over the management of TT.”
From the party's Virtual Report platform on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar presented what she termed the five “economic booster shots” for resilient recovery and growth.
The plan includes reducing the tax burden, jump-starting food security, restarting a reformed oil refinery to regain fuel security, investments in renewable energy, and creating three innovative funds to mobilise financial resources.
Pointing to Imbert’s position that the country cannot forego taxes, she recalled her People’s Partnership removed VAT on over 7,000 food items when it was in government, but the Treasury did not go bankrupt
“You cannot tax a country into prosperity – it is like standing in a bucket and trying to lift yourself up.”
She said there should be a plan to reduce the tax burden, placing special focus on restarting and supporting small and medium-sized businesses
“We believe reducing the heavy tax burden on our citizens and businesses most affected by the pandemic will help our citizens start to regain their footing.
“Our plan includes a reduction in personal tax and corporate income taxes, a simplified VAT regime, the removal of basic food items from the VAT net, and improved efficiency of the tax system by strengthening the Board of Inland Revenue, VAT office and Customs and Excise.
Booster shot number two was jump-starting food security, as a protracted pandemic will disrupt global food supply chains, making it very difficult to move food from the world’s breadbaskets to the places where it is to be consumed.
“We have placed agriculture and food security at the heart of our economic recovery plan.”
She spoke of leasing at least acres of former Caroni lands for conversion into agricultural parks, using at least ten per cent of the PSIP to develop access roads, irrigation and drainage for these parks, while incentivising the private sector to establish agro-processing plants.
Accusing the Prime Minister of "blowing out the torch" at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, Persad-Bissessar said TT has to get back to fuel security.
“It is important to a thriving economy, and we proposed to restart a reformed Pointe-a-Pierre oil refinery. By reopening Petrotrin, we will have greater fuel security, save foreign exchange, provide meaningful jobs and ensure the company continues to contribute to the Treasury.
“Our fourth economic booster is for the Government to invest in renewable energy. We have the ideal circumstances: wind, sea, water sunlight.
“The UNC proposed initiatives in renewable energy and recycling, such as the establishment of a solar energy park at Tamana and industrial recycling parks across the East-West Corridor.”
The fifth economic booster proposed involves creating three innovative funds to mobilise financial resources. They are a national food security fund, a national infrastructure fund, and a national climate trust fund.
“These are some of our plans that we have proposed," she said. "There are others, of course, but we do need an economic recovery plan to get our country working again, to get our citizens working again, for us to grow and prosper.”