Chamber heads on call for higher tax: Abdulah has it all wrong

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Kiran Singh, president of the Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce. FILE PHOTO –

MOVEMENT for Social Justice (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah’s call for more taxes on the wealthy and big businesses has not found support from Vivek Charran. head of the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers.

Contacted for comment on Monday, Charran said finding new and sustainable fuel solutions is what is needed going forward, describing Abdulah’s call as a socialist agenda.

“He is getting into the socialist experiment, and the reality is, however good it sounds on paper, when we look globally at countries that have dabbled in the socialist experiment, there were dire consequences for those citizens and countries.”

Abdulah led MSJ supporters on a march in Port of Spain on Sunday calling on Government to reverse the rise in fuel prices and find other ways to subsidise the cost, as well as ways to mitigate the rising cost of food.

Abdulah suggested raising the taxes for profitable companies such as Ansa McAl, Angostura, Agostini, Massy, Republic Bank and Scotiabank and to raise taxes for people in higher salary brackets, such as executives and leaders of industry. He said the earnings from these higher taxes could be used to subsidise the rising global cost of fuel.

Charran said the idea of fuel subsidies being maintained by governments will become a thing of the past and more efficient and economical sources of fuel need to be looked at.

“The better move forward is to embrace the concept that economies are moving away from fossil fuels into more sustainable fuel types. When he defines ‘rich people’ or ‘wealthy companies,’ it is not that easy, because given the state of the economy, and the inflationary pressures, how rich are people actually going to be?”

Charran said Abdulah’s call appeared misguided and put responsibility on the so-called wealthy that was not directly theirs. He said a more sustainable energy or fuel source that could benefit all of society should be the focus, rather than finding ways to hold on to an expensive and environmentally damaging fuel source.

Vivek Charran, head of the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers. FILE PHOTOS – File Photo

Contacted for comment, Kiran Singh, president of the Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce said the economy had been experiencing consecutive negative growth before the pandemic ,and not all large companies had successfully navigated the financial storms.

“We have witnessed the exit of several major players in recent times,” Singh said. “This of course has led to increased unemployment, reduced revenues and the lost opportunity to collect more taxes. It is no secret that the country is in desperate need of foreign direct investment, import substitution and economic diversification.

“A delicate balancing act of monetising available resources versus an increased revenue collection system through the taxation system must be well thought out.”

Singh said higher tax rates will only deter business growth and turn away potential investments from the country.