Mayaro MP, Rushton Paray, has accused government of trying to milk more money out of smokers with their increase in the tobacco tax, despite government’s claim that it was being done for the sake of the health of the nation.
Speaking in the House on Monday, Paray said the PNM has a history of taxation of alcohol and tobacco, deemed the “sin tax”. However, the UNC member said “It is our view on this side that the measure we are considering today (Monday) is purely a revenue generating measure. It is cloaked under the guise of health but it is purely for revenue generation.”
Paray said if government was truly interested in the health of citizens, they should have proposed a public education campaign to dissuade smoking.
He said there is no preventative or rehabilitative measures to help the people and he also slammed this administration for ending the Oncology Centre despite 3,000 cancer cases and 1,200 deaths each year from cancer.
Paray believes that raising taxes on tobacco could lead to heightened smuggling of imported illegal cigarettes, which will undermine the collection of corporation tax and VAT.