Come November 15, Value Added Tax (VAT) on all food items, except luxury items such as champagne and caviar, will be removed.
This is one of the goodies that Finance Minister Larry Howai will announce when he presents the 2012/2013 national budget tomorrow.
In outlining her Government's philosophy on which the budget is themed, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday it was an initiative designed to stem rising food prices and reduce the country's food import bill.
She pointed out that consumers will have to pay 15 per cent less for pigtails, 15 per cent less for local fruit juices such as pineapple and mango and shell out less money to purchase tinned pigeon peas, red beans and black-eyed peas.
She's hoping this makes a dent on the high food bills families are being forced to pay.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a pre-budget rally which was organised by the United National Congress (UNC) at Mid Centre Mall, Chaguanas, car park yesterday.
Despite the Prime Minister's announcement, there are already 49 food items listed as zero-rated which include rice, flour, milk in any form, bread, margarine, corned beef, tinned sardines and smoked herrings. (See box).
It was all she would offer up on tomorrow's budget besides the theme the "People's Budget", the promise of increases in local food production, increased construction jobs and the promise of improved health care.
She called on the population to "get in your section" and support the Government.
She said despite her coalition Government inheriting a depleted Treasury in May 2010, the economic prospects for the country had never been better.
She credited former finance minister Winston Dookeran with turning the economy around but now "the ship is in calmer waters. We are moving to grow more quickly than many other countries. We are on the road to economic prosperity."
But the Prime Minister's limited budget statements came after an hour-long defence of her Government and attacks on the Opposition.
Despite calls by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, she cheekily pointed out that there would be no elections "Manning-style".
"And as we know (Orville) London's bridge will come falling down and Tobago will rise to the TOP," she said.
"If the PNM lose Tobago, they lose all. Rowley's leadership is under threat," she said.
She said there were battle lines now drawn between her Government and special interest groups as "the mounting opposition is simply not about Section 34".
In her view, the Tobago House of Assembly remained the last jewel of the People's National Movement (PNM) crown and determined that it was the fight for the THA which has the PNM on the offence.
The Prime Minister said there was a series of coincidences with certain members of labour unions joining forces with the Opposition.
She lashed out at Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah, a former senator in her Government who resigned after being disillusioned with governance issues, who was on a "naked quest for power" by any means necessary.
For his part, Abdulah would only say yesterday "anyone who knows me knows that's not true" and said he'd make a further statement today.
Persad-Bissessar pointed out that even former PNM political leader Patrick Manning had issued a statement on the Section 34 matter which was not in favour of Dr Rowley.
The PNM, she said, took out 180 radio spots on the day of its march which is the amount usually taken out at peak election time.
"There's no coincidence that they are coming together," she remarked.
Elections, she said, is in the air but it is at the THA level.
She said her Government had enemies and sought to identify them as special interest groups and political stockbrokers who would use whatever was at their disposal to destablise her Government with lies and innuendoes and had no interest in seeing T&T develop.
On the offensive, Persad-Bissessar said at no time during the May 2010 elections was any $2 million cheque made out to her, or the UNC or the People's Partnership as alleged by Dr Rowley.
But she asked him to account for a $5 million cheque made out by former CL Financial chairman Lawrence Duprey for the 2007 elections to the PNM.
She said CLF was the largest financier of the PNM during that elections and questioned whether the PNM's decision to bail out the cash-strapped insurance company was linked to its campaign financing by Duprey's conglomerate.
"Was it payback?" she asked.
In turn, she said, the Government has pumped $19 billion to prop up the company when it went belly up in 2009.
She said Rowley's "huffing and puffing" on integrity and accountability was lost as he only found his voice after he was fired as a cabinet minister from the Patrick Manning government.
On the defensive, she said that more was expected of her Government as it was the people's victory which marshalled in her Government.
"We must never lose sight of the nature of those which we replaced in Government," she said.
On the defensive front, she said while her Government did not build the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) and the Hyatt hotel, it had built roads and bridges for people and has made water available in places where it had not received water before.
She said there had been no murders in Laventille for the last 20 days.
She listed some of her Government's achievements which included grants to 7,900 senior citizens, 24,000 public assistance grants and 18,000 general assistance grants.
She said the economy is expected to move from a negative 4.6 per cent decline in 2009 to a 1.2 per cent growth in 2012.
She said the people's budget was a "visionary and inspired budget which she expects would change the course of the country's history in the shortest possible time".
CONSUMER ITEMS THAT
CARRY NO VAT
• unprocessed food of a kind used for human consumption;
• milk in any form, including processed and tinned milk;
• baby formulas and baby milk substitutes.
• cheese and curd;
• corned beef;
• fresh butter;
• peanut butter;
• table salt;
• salted butter;
• tinned sardines;
• smoked herring;
• toilet paper;
• baking powder;
• pasta, whether or not cooked or stuffed (with meat or other
substances) or otherwise prepared, such as spaghetti,
macaroni, noodles, lasagna, gnocchi, ravioli and cannelloni;
• cane sugar;
• cocoa powder, whether or not containing added sugar or
other sweetening matter;
• orange juice;
• soya-bean oil;
•) maize (corn) oil and its fractions;
• sesame oil and its fractions;
• chicken sausage, canned;
• salami sausages;
• icing sugar;
• preparations of malt extract;
• corn flakes;
• biscuits, unsweetened;
• grapefruit juice;
• vanilla essence;
• soy sauce;
• tomato ketchup;
• prepared mustard;
• mineral water;
• ordinary natural water;
• aerated beverages;
• orange drink;
• grapefruit drink; and