'This is a disaster waiting to happen'


'This is a disaster waiting to happen'

T&T Opposition fears possible food crisis

Monday, January 18, 2021

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Leader of the main Opposition United National Congress (UNC), Kamla Persad-Bissessar has called on the Administration of Dr Keith Rowley to expand the list of basket items that are exempted from Value Added Tax (VAT) in an effort to prevent a “possible food crisis”.

In a message posted on social media on Saturday, the Opposition leader said there could be a price hike of 35 per cent on all foods in the near future due to issues related to the overvalued currency if these are not addressed.

“This is a disaster waiting to happen and the longer the Government sits on its hands and ignore [is] this looming crisis, the deeper the hole becomes. With this imminent food crisis, the Government has yet to state any new measures that aim to directly address this problem. Everyday citizens continue to complain about the increased prices of basic food items at the supermarket while the Government sits on their hands and does nothing about it.”

“This PNM Administration reduced the VAT from 15 per cent to 12.5 per cent but at the same time, they reduced the number of items that were once exempted from the tax. Their tactic was one of “giving with one hand and taking away with the other”. That will not work as citizens are dealing with numerous challenges, she said.

Persad-Bissessar, a former prime minister, said that the current Administration had promised a stimulus investment of TT$500 million into agriculture in the last budget. “But we are yet to see anything concrete from that allocation.”

Persad-Bissessar said in the long term the Government must place more investment “beyond the regular lip service in its domestic food production capacity to prevent a possible food crisis”.

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