Rowley: Govt dishonest
By Clint Chan Tack Tuesday, October 2 2012
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On time: Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley arrives for the reading of the 2013 Budget at Parliament yesterday. ...
OPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday declared he was unimpressed with the 2013 Budget which Finance and Economy Minister Larry Howai read.
Speaking with reporters after Howai’s Budget presentation in the House of Representatives, Rowley criticised Government for increasing the price of premium gasoline from today, being dishonest about the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) from food items, being hypocritical about increasing taxes on the gaming industry and for not telling the whole story about Clico.
On the increase in premium gasoline prices from today, Rowley said this meant “private transportation has been hit.”
However he explained this should not see an increase in the cost of goods and services or public transportation as the vehicles used for these purposes run on diesel fuel.
“So until the diesel fuel is affected we will not see the major effect but this certainly will affect persons who are using their own private transportation or vehicles which are using premium which are mostly private vehicles now,”
He said Government was being contradictory when it said it was removing VAT on foods “in order to stimulate agricultural production and to reduce the food import bill.” Rowley argued that the food items on which VAT will be removed are imported items and this would make those foods more affordable.
“That should have the effect of increasing the consumption of imported items. That should not in any way see a reduction in the food import bill,” he said.
On the plans to increase taxes on the gaming industry, Rowley declared, “That is part of the national hypocrisy where we are pretending that we are against casino gambling, when in fact we have a roaring casino gambling industry in this country which does not have legislation covering it or controls.”
Saying this industry poses a big problem “because it can be the source of some very serious underhand activity,” Rowley said the State is continuing to tax it on an ongoing basis “while not admitting there is a casino industry.”
Rowley did not see the proposed tax increases affecting the gaming industry because “these industries pay for themselves.” On Howai’s promise to bring the Clico saga to an end this year, Rowley said former finance minister Winston Dookeran gave the impression this tale had already ended.
“The Government has been dishonest in treating with our circumstance.”
He said while Howai spoke about $19 billion being spent by Government to deal with Clico, it was done “without a single comment that this bailout had another side to the equation which is the Government taking control of billions of dollars in Clico assets.”
“Without saying that, you make it sound like the Clico bailout was a burden that we cannot bear and that is the kind of thing that damages confidence,” Rowley said.
He also said Howai gave no explanation about the cause of the economy’s stagnation or the lack of confidence in the economy over the last two years.
“He spoke about the banks being awash with cash. The reason why the banks are awash with cash is because there is no confidence in an investment climate,” Rowley said.
Stating he will respond to Howai in the House on Friday at 10 am, Rowley concluded that, “There are a lot of contradictions in the Budget.”