Former Government Senator and UNC activist Devant Maharaj says the continued application of the vehicle tax exemption during the covid crisis by all members of Parliament is unconscionable.
He says while citizens struggle for economic survival daily as the impact of COVID 19 ravages the national and global economy, Parliamentarians continue with life as usual and unphased.
“The vulgar and obscene statement by ‘Opportunity’ MP Dr.Roodal Moonilal that he will give up his if the government gives up their exemption, only underscores that Parliamentarians are not prepared to make an unqualified personal sacrifice as is being asked of the citizens of the country.”
Maharaj believes that if the Opposition were serious in its commitment, it would mandate all members to cease applying for the tax exemption regardless of the government action.
“Unfortunately driving a brand Range Rover, or Prado is more important to all Parliamentarians,” says Maharaj.
He added, “As the budget debate begins in earnest this week, Parliamentarians will haggle over much much more the average citizen will suffer from the economic impact of COVID in an equation where they are essentially disconnected via their perks and privileges.”
Parliamentarians, Maharaj said, should not only be giving up their vehicle tax exemption but also be considering a temporary salary cut during the COVID crisis.
“It is so easy for MPs to speak of hiring freeze, pay cuts, layoffs, and job loss while they are far removed from the harshest impact on the COVID 19.”
He compared the situation to New Zealand where there country’s Prime Minister and its MPs took a 20% pay cut earlier this year to show solidarity with the citizens and show leadership at the highest level.
Additionally, members of India’s Parliament have passed a bill which, for one year, will reduce the salaries of MPs by 30% “to meet the exigencies arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Maharaj said, “In Trinidad and Tobago, however, Parliamentarians cling on perks of office with tenacious resolve.”