Howai urged to remove import duties
Trinidad and Tobago needs a plan to combat rising poverty levels and food inflation prices in the upcoming September 9 budget, according to businessman Balliram Maharaj.
Maharaj, chief executive of ADM Import and Export Distributors and former head of the Supermarkets’ Association, in a letter addressed to Finance Minister Larry Howai and copied to Trade Minister Vasant Bharath, called for the removal of import duties on dried fruits, ghee, rice and sugar.
He also advocated the adoption of biodegradable plastic bags, restricting the sale of non-biodegradable plastic bags, and removal of import duties on environmentally friendly alternatives, including cloth bags.
Maharaj suggested a “preventable liquor surcharge” he hoped can be levied on the purchase of alcoholic drinks in order to off-set the cost associated with educating on the dangers of alcohol abuse.
He advocated bars, clubs, restaurants and fetes be mandated with a 2 a.m. closing time, and that advertisements for liquor or other alcohol on various media be banned from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In his message to the minister last year, Maharaj had called for measures to deal with crime, including making CCTV cameras more accessible. In the last budget this wish was granted, and Howai allowed for no import duties on these items. Maharaj noted that while this was commendable, it had been stymied due to challenges in its implementation in Customs and Excise.
He added that in addition to finally implementing this promise, the government should grant a 200 per cent tax break on the cost of security equipment and expenses for both business and private citizens.
“This will result in a win-win for the entire population since cameras and other security equipment can assist the police in investigating criminal activities,” Maharaj said.