Some members of the public feel the 2022 budget does not benefit poor people.
Newsday took to the streets of Port of Spain to ask the public’s thoughts on the budget read in Parliament by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Monday.
A shop owner, Richard Blades, said it was no different from past budgets, since it did not help poor people.
“All the money the Government allocated for different areas does not benefit the poor, Whether you apply and do the right thing or try to qualify for grants, you don’t get through,” he said.
He said the downside of removing VAT on items was that conglomerates would raise the prices on other items to accommodate that loss.
He felt the $50 million allocated to Tobago was not enough for the hotel and tourism sector.
“It only sounds plenty but that is not enough money for a fiscal year,” he said.
He said covid19 has disrupted the lives of many and money should have been injected into small businesses to help them develop.
“The Government has not put anything in place to benefit the poor man. Is either higher tax, taxi-fare raise, food prices out of control. You not getting pay raise but everything raising,” he said.
He said there is no balance.
A shop owner who requested anonymity said millions of dollars are going to different sectors and poor people are suffering.
“Some people don’t have books to go to school and computers home for their children to learn," he said.
He expressed relief that education and training received the largest allocation.
“Children are the future,” he said.
Phone shop owner Oshana Campbell expressed her concern over the rising cost of living during the pandemic.
She said removing VAT from some basic items in her opinion is a half-effort by the Government because VAT still remains on more important items such as flour, rice and sugar.
She said as a Tobagonian, she feels Tobago always gets the short end of the stick.
“Whatever crumbs are left after budgeting and allocating funds to everywhere else, $50 million for tourism and hotel in Tobago is not enough, “she said.
She agrees the online local marketplace is a good initiative by the Government to help people.
“During the pandemic we learned that having a store online was a plus, whereas it made everything easy,” she said.
She is sceptical about the plan for digital IDs that will be launched in 2022, since she sees it as a way for the Government to keep track of citizens.
Newsday also spoke to Annie Mohan, who said the removal of VAT from basic items does not make sense to her.
“Those items like sausages, canned items and pigtail are not good for your health but at the end of the day it is still food,” she said.
She said she is happy about the allocation for tourism in Tobago since she owns a tourism shop in Port of Spain.
“From Tobago, tourists come to Trinidad for Carnival and that is a means of income,” she said.
She said small enterprises are suffering and people are reshuffling their business to make ends meet.
“I have to start selling masks and other items now other than souvenirs,” she said.