Corporate welfare and the PNM oligarchy

Finance Minister Colm Imbert - ANGELO MARCELLE
Finance Minister Colm Imbert - ANGELO MARCELLE

THE EDITOR: If taxation without representation is unfair and unjust, why are so many people paying taxes and finding it increasingly difficult to access services?

The police either have no one to send when we ask for assistance; no cars are available, or they ignore us. Furthermore, there are no fire trucks when your home or business is on fire or there is insufficient water available.

The roads are in dismal shape and cause havoc as vehicles careen across the landscape trying to avoid potholes, creating dangerous situations. Our healthcare is ineffective, with inadequate staffing, defective equipment, and supplies.

The list of government failures goes on and on. But the Government keeps increasing taxes to pay its debts and fund failing institutions.

Now it has changed the name of our tax collectors from Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise to TT Revenue Authority in a transparent scheme to increase taxes again, utilising a system of confusion to cover up the need for funds to prop up the ailing economy.

Why does everything cost more during these troubled times? It's worldwide inflation, the leaders claim. Increased food prices and more money for water and electricity have already been authorised, and the Government tries to hide behind these taxes by saying that we need to stop enjoying the lowest-priced utilities in the world and pay up like other countries.

Is it any wonder that our Finance Minister blames the people when things go awry, as in the recent case of a broken Heritage pipeline?

But what will we get for higher taxes? Less crime? Lower-priced groceries? Better water supply? Better roads? What we will get is just more broken promises. Moreover, if price increases have been ongoing for years and services have declined, it is doubtful to improve when taxes are increased.

The regional corporations will allegedly use the proposed real estate taxes to improve services in their local areas. But wasn't that the reason they were established in 1990? And yet when we call on them for help they either ignore our pleas or find some inane excuse why they cannot help.

It is because the corporations are run by the party in power. Even in opposition-led areas, they still must beg the central government to release the funds already budgeted.

The chain of command begins with the councillors, the Members of Parliament and the central government and ends with the Cabinet, whose members always claim that there are no funds to do what they were mandated to do. And who do you think controls the Cabinet? Why, it is the Prime Minister, of course.

The regional corporations under PNM and UNC control should be disbanded and charged with dereliction of duty. They have failed miserably to serve the people of their districts.

Tobago does not have a regional corporation; an assemblyman performs locally in each of the 15 electoral districts. In Trinidad, however, we have 14 municipal corporations billed to taxpayers, each with the associated corporate baggage, such as a chairman, CEO, office staff and security personnel.

Trinidad could take a page from Tobago and replace the entire lot with one assemblyman instead of ineffective corporations in each district. The millions saved could be used to benefit the burgesses.

Moreover, since the Government claims there are not enough funds in the Treasury to run the people's business, instead of taxing the many millionaires, the corporations, the lawyers, the doctors, et al that exist in TT, they pounce upon ordinary citizens to pay for the wealthy who escape taxes utilising accountants who use every trick possible to minimise the rich's tax liabilities.

Imagine a great divide with the rich on one side of the equation and ordinary people, the indigent, on the other. We, the wretched poor who scrounge for our daily existence to pay for our food and other essentials, clearly outnumber the rich, the politicians and the elitist few, so why do we let them control our lives? Because politicians protect the rich and, in return, they are given priority treatment.

Politicians think that the oligarchs who put them in power can keep them there. The loss of all but one THA seat by the mighty PNM gave the lie to that fallacy.



"Corporate welfare and the PNM oligarchy"

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