'ambitious move': Balliram Maharaj speaks during a news conference yesterday at his Arima office. —Photo: MICHEAL BRUCE

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'Removal of VAT might take days'

By Renuka Singh

Former head of the Supermarkets Association of Trinidad and Tobago Balliram Maharaj yesterday said more than 60 items listed for the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) today are already zero-rated items.

Maharaj said he went through the Government list that was made available over the weekend and saw two pages of basic food items scheduled to have the 15 per cent VAT removed, but recognised some were already non-VAT items.

"Two pages towards the end of the list included cheese, mackerel, onions, potatoes, onions, magarines, corn flakes, corned beef," he said.

He said the short notice to remove VAT from selected food prices may have been too "ambitious".

"The Government, to the best of their ability, tried to reduce VAT. It was a giant step. We know there will be some teething problems, but we have to give it a try.

"If I was there, I would have said it have to be done in phases of about three years," he said.

He said he does not see the removal of VAT happening by today and may take another five days to be complete.

"It ain't going to finish tomorrow (today). Definitely it can't finish by tomorrow (today)," he said.

He said the lack of communication from the Government to the public has raised some concern among supermarket workers and owners.

"We asking John Public when the prices on these items are not carried down, it's because VAT has already been removed," he said.

"I really hope that people don't get abusive to the workers," he added.

He called for more information from the Government to clarify some questions on items.

"When leaders fail to be leaders, let us as a people be leaders; and I am asking people to come out there and don't blame nobody," he said.

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