Daily Brief - Thursday 11th May, 2023


TTMA calls for prompt VAT refunds

The T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) has welcomed last week’s announcement by Minister of Finance Colm Imbert regarding the issuance of value added tax (VAT) bonds. Last week, Minister Imbert said in the Senate, that the Government owed $7.8 billion in VAT refunds as at March 31, 2023. He said the Government intended to issue bonds worth $3 billion to defray some of the arrears owed to businesspeople. He also said the Government would issue cash refunds for VAT arrears of between $1 billion and $2 billion. The payments would be made between June and August, said Imbert. President of the TTMA Roger Roach said he hoped the payments would be prompt. Read more here

‘Gas production situation worrying’

While the decision by the Government to accelerate the much-needed Value Added Tax refunds is being seen as a step in the right direction by the business community, there are concerns about the non-disclosure of the oil and gas production for the last six months. Last week, Finance Minister Colm Imbert revealed that the Government owes $7.8 billion in VAT refunds and Cabinet recently agreed to the issuance of VAT bonds in the aggregate sum of $3 billion. He said the VAT bonds will be issued between June and August this year. Yesterday during his mid-year review budget presentation Imbert revealed that the acceleration of VAT refunds via payment of cash for the amount of $250,000 or less will be paid between this month and next month. Read more here



Police, Defence Force team up to combat gang-related crimes in Tobago

The Tobago police and TT Defence Force have rallied to fight against rising gang-related crime on the island, ACP Collis Hazel announced on Wednesday. He said the joint force is a measure ment to deal with gangs believed to be behind the spate of murders, of which six have been recorded for the year, so far. “Tough times call for tough actions and as the leader, I give you the assurances that life in Tobago... demands tough actions," Hazel said during joint press conference, at Shaw Park Cultural Complex on Wednesday. Read more here



Imbert: Govt moving to clear VAT debts

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said Government is moving aggressively over the next two months to clear Value Added Tax (VAT) debts owed to businesses. He also said that contrary to claims by the Opposition and other people, the economy is performing well despite challenges it is facing. He made these comments before the House of Representatives passed a motion to approve a report of its Standing Finance Committee on Wednesday. On May 5, the committee approved $3.8 billion in additional funding for 22 ministries to continue operations until the end of the fiscal year in September. Read more here



Shipping Association eyes legislative change

The recently elected president of the Shipping Association of T&T (SATT) is hoping to ensure proper legislation is developed to guide the industry going forward. Sonja Voisin, who was elected president on March 24 during the association’s annual meeting, has listed the development and implementation of the T&T Shipping Association Act as one of two key deliverables she has identified for her 2023/2024 term. In a release, SATT said, “This act aims to establish much-needed operational, commercial, and competitive standards within the industry, bringing great benefit to stakeholders and setting the stage for further development. The proposed act will promote effective competition and economic efficiency, protect the interests of consumers, protect the financial viability of efficient suppliers, promote the availability of regulated services to all consumers, including low-income, rural, and disadvantaged consumers, and enhance public knowledge, awareness, and understanding of the sector. The groundwork for the drafting of this legislation has been completed, and Ms Voisin will lead the stakeholder consultation process to ensure that all benefits are derived.” Read more here



Salary increases, housing plans for teachers

A comprehensive package inclusive of salary increases and housing benefits will soon be rolled out for educators across the country, President Dr. Irfaan Ali announced on Wednesday. The Head-of-State made the announcement during a visit to the Beterverwagting secondary school, where he engaged several teachers and students. “We are working towards a comprehensive package for the improvement of your lives. Your lives are not only worth salaries; it is a comprehensive package that must be able to give you good sustainable housing [and] allow you to provide for your children to have a great opportunity,” President Ali said. Acknowledging the hard work of teachers across the country, the president reiterated the government’s commitment to improving their lives. Read more here



Confusion and fear at US border as law change looms

As the hours count down to a dramatic shift in US immigration policy and an expected surge of migrants at the southern border, those already waiting to enter from Mexico are increasingly desperate. Beneath an unrelenting sun, hundreds of people are standing in a dry and dusty wasteland. Waiting. Hungry and thirsty, exhausted and frightened, they have all gathered right beside the huge steel border fence that separates them from the United States. They can see through it, to the place they have sacrificed so much to try to reach. But no one knows if they will be allowed across that border. Rosario Medina says that to find food for her grandchildren she has been sifting through dumpsters. Even gathering water for the babies bottles from the polluted Rio Grande river. No wonder tears roll down her face as she describes trying to survive here for the last eight days, as the children's lips blister in the sun. Read more here

11th May 2023


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