Taxes can’t be relaxed at the time of COVID-19 pandemic: Imbert

Trinidad and Tobago's Finance Ministry held a virtual press conference on COVID-19 relief measures on Monday, 10 May 2021.

Trinidad and Tobago: Trinidad and Tobago’s Finance Ministry held a virtual press conference on COVID-19 relief measures on Monday, 10 May 2021.

In the press conference Colm Imbert- Minister of Finance, cited that ” Last year almost – $5 billion in relief was provided to the citizens due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the government cannot provide this kind of relief this year.”

Minister Imbert asserted that taxes could not be relaxed at this time. And it’s unreasonable for people to ask for tax relief and COVID-19 relief at the same time.

Though Income support grants for the sum of – $1,500 would be distributed to the people who temporarily lost their jobs at the beginning of the month, and salary relief grants for the sum of -$1,000 would be given to those people who lost their jobs aloft the last few days as a result of the recently introduced COVID-19 restrictions.

The Ministry further anticipated that – almost 20,000 people are eligible for this type of compensation, and the budgeted amount is between – $25 million and $30 million.

The Minister also confirmed that the – Ministry of Agriculture has committed to provide – 25,000 food baskets to be filled with local vegetables and two chickens. These food baskets would be distributed to needy families in all the – 41 constituencies. The Food Basket initiative would be funded for the next 3 months and up to a month of September if needed.

Citizens who do not have valid bank accounts would be distributed food cards. The minister added that there were some examples of double-dipping during last year’s distribution of grants and therefore, the Ministry is taking its time to guarantee a full-proof system is in place this time by implementing a fully online application system for the grants.

This system is expected to become operational by Friday at the earliest or from next Monday for the latest. The Ministry would also be working with the banks and credit unions to make loans more convenient to small and medium enterprises.

The finance ministry would also be working with the – NEDCO to encourage micro-entrepreneurs to obtain special grants. The Minister further also gave confirmation that the government aims to order – 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines from numerous suppliers.

He concluded, “There is no cost yet since each supplier sells at a different cost. Whatever money is needed for the Ministry of Health, we will find it.”