THE EDITOR: How some people stop so? The minute the Minister of Finance announces in the Mid-Year Budget Review that TT made a surplus instead of a deficit, the Tobago Business Chamber begins salivating. I am no fancy economist but I would not call a surplus of $1.98 billion instead of a deficit of $5.7 billion an occasion to get unduly excited.
We are in a global Russian invasion of Ukraine, a financial straitjacket, in the middle of a pandemic, and chamber president and attorney Martin George starts giving out financial advice.
How was Imbert able to predict that TT is rolling in extra money? Could Colm Imbert be wrong? Any number of economists could say that the minister is playing dolly-house financing. He is used to people casting aspersions. Why start on the Finance Minister? Why the old talk about Imbert should not have increased fuel prices? Why make suggestions about a VAT-free zone for Tobago people?
How many citizens apart from George actually comprise the Tobago Business Chamber?
George thinks a VAT-free zone will encourage Trinidadians to choose Tobago as the island in which to retire. How many retirees did he have in mind? Two thousand, 5,000, 10,000, or more? Where could you put so many extra families to live in Tobago? In high-rise apartments? Many retirees living comfortably in Trinidad in their oversized luxury homes may decide that Tobago is only for short-stay holidays. As fantastically beautiful as Tobago might be, nothing happens over there. Well, practically nothing. Goat racing is not carded for every week.
So, where will the acres of space be found to build thousands of holiday homes? Where would the staff be found to care for these new homes? Would Trinidadian retirees have to walk with their own daily helpers? How many Tobagonians will be free to cook, house and clean swimming pools?
And, importantly, what about the bacchanal with Trinidad business people also wanting to discuss a VAT-free zone?
Is fiscal Santa Clause planning to leave Trinidad and retire to VAT-free-zone Tobago?