PM: Stalled property tax, revenue authority can send Trinidad and Tobago to IMF

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks at Conversations with the Prime Minister, at Skiffle Bunch Pan Theatre, Coffee Street, San Fernando, on March 5. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

THE Prime Minister says the Government’s inability to implement the property tax and the establishment of the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority (TTRA) could deprive Trinidad and Tobago of much-needed revenue and cause it to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Dr Rowley made those statements at a Conversations with the Prime Minister forum at Skiffle Bunch Pan Yard, Coffee Street, San Fernando, on March 5.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the Opposition and other groups had been trying to stymie the establishment of the TTRA for the last 14 years through various types of legal action.

He added that similar moves had been taken with respect to stopping the implementation of property tax.

Imbert said Government had been successful in several of those matters.

He was hopeful all legal challenges to both initiatives would be overcome in the near future.

Rowley expressed concern about attempts to obstruct efforts by Government to bring additional revenue to the country.

After recalling other decisions taken by Government to strengthen the economy over the last eight years, Rowley said failure to implement initiatives such as property tax and the TTRA could lead to a situation where the country might not be able to meet its expenses,

He warned the actions of the Opposition and others to stymie efforts by Government to increase public revenue could create a situation where the “crapaud would have his pipe and the match would have been struck to light it.”

Rowley said in such a situation, “we would have been an IMF case.”

He reminded his audience this would have led to a reduction of several subsidies used to protect the most vulnerable in society and reduce the size of the public service.

Rowley reiterated that one of the commitments he made as Prime Minister was to keep Trinidad and Tobago away from the IMF.