Imbert baffled by UNC stance on finance bill

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Colm Imbert –

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert wondered how the UNC could object to a measure in a bill that would allow the private sector to provide financial assistance to public and private schools.

He made the comment in the House of Representatives on Wednesday before it passed the Finance Bill 2023. The bill will be debated in the Senate on Tuesday.

Imbert said opposition MPs were aware that in the US, many public and private schools survived on financial endowments from private-sector companies exercising their corporate social responsibility.

He was baffled as to why the UNC would object to a tax regime being allowed for that to happen here.

“On one side of their mouth, we must give no incentives, we must not tax anybody. With the other side of their mouth, we must penalise everybody.”

He said many UNC MPs either sometimes live in the US or have relatives living there permanently.

“All of them wish they were living in the US. All of them have house in the US and paying property tax too.”

As he concluded debate, Imbert declared there was nothing the Opposition had said during the debate that warranted a response from him.

“This contribution from the other side was just absolute nonsense!”

Government MPs thumped their desks as Imbert said UNC MPs were confused about what they were saying.

“The first wave (of UNC speakers) oppose everything, and then the second wave support everything.”

Government MPs thumped their desks again when Imbert said, “How can one respond to this? It is impossible!”

He added that when the Opposition was not being confused, they were embroiling themselves in irrevelance.

Imbert suggested that all UNC MPs speak to Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly about remedial education after the sitting.

“They need to go to vacation classes and improve their comprehension.”

As UNC MPs made inaudible responses, Imbert said, “I would be happy to propose 150 per cent uplift for companies that engage in remedial education for all members of the Opposition.”

He wondered how the UNC could continue to oppose the property tax, which would provide local government corporations with a steady stream of revenue to provide goods and services to their constituents.

He reminded the Opposition that half the 14 local government corporations in Trinidad “reside in UNC constituencies.”