The previous People's National Movement (PNM) removed Value Added Tax (VAT) from 54 items which could fit on one page.
By comparison, Trade Minister Vasant Bharath yesterday presented a long, winding roll of paper which he said listed the items from which VAT was to be removed by his Government.
On the proposed removal of VAT from 7,000 items announced in the budget, Bharath said he was "simply amazed" that those on the Opposition benches were taking "cheap shots" at the initiative. He stressed that the removal would benefit many people.
"These are real names unlike the list that was allegedly presented to the President," he quipped during his contribution to the budget debate in the Senate yesterday. He was referring to the list he was holding up and that of a petition on Section 34 presented to acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley calling for the removal of then Justice Minister Herbert Volney and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. Volney has since been fired by the Prime Minister.
He read a few of the items: pigeon peas, cornflakes, coconut milk, Quaker oats, cream of wheat, guava jam, mashed potatoes, apple juice, grapefruit juice, picnic hams, mayonnaise, Kool-Aid, baked beans, Smalta, soya, black eyed peas, kidney beans, macaroni, and pigtail.
On the Caribbean economy, Bharath noted that Caricom markets were suffering but the People's Partnership "has handled the economy well" and Trinidad and Tobago has "emerged in a far better position than other countries in the world".
He said the projected growth rate was 1.2 per cent while this administration inherited a growth rate of negative 0.35 per cent.
"In the last two and a half years, under the watch of the People's Partnership, the economy has grown by 4.7 per cent," he pointed out.