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No need to panic

Ramlogan on VAT removal deadline:

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

There is no need to panic.

The People's Partnership promise to remove the 15 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) from some 7,000 food items will be met in time, says Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

In a telephone interview with the Express yesterday, Ramlogan said the legal process to meeting this measure will be finalised in time and assured that come next Thursday thousands of food items will be zero rated.

"The measure was announced to take effect from November 15 and that deadline will in fact be met so there is no cause for alarm or concern," said Ramlogan.

He said a simple Legal Order must be signed by Finance Minister Larry Howai and published in the Gazette.

The removal of VAT from food items, he said, will take effect on November 15 and the Order will therefore be published before that date.

Government, he said, has 40 days within which the resolution must be laid in the Parliament.

"It is subject to negative resolution which means that the Opposition if they so desire can raise a motion to nullify the VAT exemption," he said.

"The law which provides for the VAT exemption or zero rating takes effect the minute it is gazetted, in other words the exemption occurs without any debate in or approval from the Parliament," said Ramlogan.

"The unnecessary and avoidable confusion which has occurred is most unfortunate because this simple procedure has been used fairly often," he added.

The Chief Parliamentary Counsel, said Ramlogan, has been liaising with the Trade Ministry and the Finance Ministry "in dotting the i's and crossing the t's to ensure that the list is accurate".

"Contrary to what the Opposition has said the list exempts thousands of food items and the process is fairly complex and complicated," he said.

Ramlogan said the Prime Minister has instructed him to ensure that the list comprises the maximum number of food items.

"The list therefore is an expansive one with great scope and breadth," he said.

Ramlogan said that the list will be published and made available to the public so the people can judge for themselves.

"Administrative measures which are necessary to give effect to this revolutionary and important social measure are also being put into place through the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Prices Council to ensure there is monitoring and supervision so that the savings benefit is passed on to the consumer," said Ramlogan.

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