On the heels of the Finance Minister’s announcement earlier today that Budget Day will be October 2nd, Political Leader of the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP), Phillip Alexander, says before Imbert reads his new fiscal package, he should begin this time around with a detailed accounting for what was done with money allocated in the last Budget.
In a statement responding to the announcement of October 2nd as Budget Day, Alexander said:
“The taxpaying citizenry are against the wall and further taxes are being contemplated and piled on an already weary population. To whom do the public turn for facts to guide their opinion on what is being done with their money? Are our taxes fairly collected and expended? Are there ways to work with existing incomes or even less? The state spending essential funds on tiling sidewalks on Ariapita Avenue has to be a solid example of a fool’s errand. Where is the expected return on this investment?”
Alexander said the Budget should be focused almost solely on the social architecture and stewarding of the economy, safeguarding the society, and creating hope and opportunity for all.
“If the government has a plan for the people, then the budget is the tool by which that plan is executed,” the PEP leader argues.
“What exactly is the current government’s plan for the people? How is the budget going to support the development of small businesses or assist existing small businesses to grow into large ones, generating employment and contributing to the tax basket?” he asked. “What is the plan to get the mass of persons dependent on make work schemes and handouts redeveloped into functional, independent contributing citizens, thereby reducing one of the largest burdens on the taxpayers?”
He also questioned whether there was a plan to use taxation and legislation to wean the society away from the highly processed, sugar and fat heavy diet, “that has us as one of the leading countries for preventable lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke?”
“Wouldn’t such a plan save lives, save foreign exchange, keep citizens contributing longer, and remove a significant tax burden spent upkeeping the health sector to the tune of five billion a year?” he stated.
The PEP leader also said the billion dollars spent desalinating water ever year could be used to create multiples of reservoirs and water treatment facilities to capture, hold, treat and distribute “the bounty of rainwater we get for free each year, removing another burden from taxpayers”, and asked whether Government had a plan for such initiatives.
Alexander went on to state that T&T’s education system costs more per child per term than the two most successful private schools in the country, with far less results to show.
He also said the social impact of five to ten thousand unemployable or barely employable young men and women being added to the workforce every year results in billions being spent on crime management and handouts.
“Wouldn’t it be better to focus on fixing that,” he asked, “so that the taxpayers do not end up carrying the classroom to jail cell burden?”