THA not supporting TT Revenue Authority; Chief Sec. seeks urgent meeting with PM

Home*Cover Story*News

THA not supporting TT Revenue Authority; Chief Sec. seeks urgent meeting with PM

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said the THA cannot support the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority (TTRA) because it is not in the island’s best interest.

During his budget presentation yesterday before the Assembly, Augustine said:“The legislation reveals a curious but not surprising insensitivity to the expressed aspiration of Tobagonians for self-determination. And it can be justifiably classified as a piece of colonial legislation. In this regard, I have formally written to the prime minister requesting an urgent meeting to discuss this very important issue.”

Augustine explained that for fiscal 2025, tax revenue is estimated as follows:

Income and profits $133.9M
Property $3.9M
Goods and services $70M
International trade $2.6M
Total tax revenue estimated: $214.5M

Property income tax is believed to be $.03 million, while other non-tax revenue is estimated at $1.31 million for a total of $1.43 million. Total revenue is projected to be $215.9 million but Augustine said this is not an accurate picture of revenues generated in Tobago.

“As it is well known, there are significant revenue streams generated in Tobago that are collected in Trinidad and not remitted to Tobago,” he said.

Augustine found it passing strange that Act No. 17 of 2021, which provides for the establishment of the TTRA, was passed and assented to on December 23, 2021, days after the new assembly executive assumed office and 48 hours before Christmas.

“I am not sure as to whether this development was coincidental or calculated, but given their nature, I feel it’s more calculated,” he said.

Augustine said there are several defects in the act which he believes place the THA at a disadvantage, revealing a “curious but not surprising” insensitivity to Tobago’s desire for self-determination which he justified as “colonial legislation”.

Among his concerns, Augustine said the act does not allow the THA to have any legal or formal remit over the establishment of the TTRA, or how it will be established. He said this has created confusion and anxiety among staff. The functional and reported relationship between the THA and the TTRA, as well as the assembly’s legal authority over the revenue collected in Tobago, is also brought into question.

“The authority is, by nature, a legislative creature and as such the defects identified must be comprehensively received before the THA can support the operationalising of the authority in Tobago,” he said.

Regarding the property tax, he said they cannot support it until all Tobagonians can get their lands on their names, as some properties are still in the name of their “colonial masters”.

The THA, he said, will establish a Legal Property Desk to assist people with the burden of administrating their property as a result.

He added that he received “political intelligence” that property tax will be implemented after general elections. However, he said that too will be rejected.