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VAT refunds

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce is right to stand firm on the point of VAT refunds to businesses, as highlighted by the IMF.

The IMF report, published a few weeks ago, does cover the broader issue of tax due but not paid, and what that represents as a percentage of GDP, as highlighted by the government. But there’s no avoiding the other point they make.

To help refresh everyone’s memory, this is what the IMF report states regarding VAT refunds: “Delays in the payment of VAT refunds not only impact businesses’ cash flow, but may also affect compliance.” It goes on to state in a footnote: “Rather than remitting the net VAT, the government collects gross VAT and then requires a budgetary allocation to remit the refunds. This also suggests that total tax revenues may be overstated to the extent that refund arrears, which should properly be counted as a financing item, are growing.”

The point is simple: the tax model in the country allows the government to collect the full VAT amount and then refund the “overpayment” element of the tax back to businesses later on. As the IMF highlights, this is not only bad for business, but it can also mask the true tax income.

We notice and support the overtures by both the Chamber and the Ministry for dialogue on the matter. But one thing ought to be clear: the government cannot pick the “good bits” of the IMF report and ignore the rest as irrelevant.

And the issue over VAT is one of them. The VAT payment system is a real issue and ought to be dealt with by the government to avoid strangling businesses’ cashflow to benefit the government’s.

The road to nowhere

It may be a very small area and quite isolated from the rest of the island but the residents of Matelot deserve better.

The pictures published by the T&T Guardian yesterday, showing craters where passable roads should be and broken pipelines where normal pipes should run, are shameful and unacceptable.

This despite previous works done in the area to shore up the roads; and who knows why they all seemed to have failed.

Some of the challenges faced by the people of Matelot may be inevitable, as consequence of coastal erosion episodes that, slowly, go on reshaping our land. Most of them, though, are more likely to be the outcome of poor planning and execution. That’s no natural disaster. It’s a political one.

Get well soon

These are our wishes for little Candy Loubon, the two-year-old who had a lucky escape after being hit by shots fired at family members in Moruga on Saturday.

Candy’s pictures on the front pages of newspapers on Monday are also a sad reflection of how indiscriminate and senseless violence in this country has become.

If nothing is done, Candy will grow up facing more violence and crime, potentially seeing loved ones lost and a growing sense of crime.

We won’t solve the crime situation overnight but we owe Candy at least a beginning, so that her generation can pass on a much better, safer and peaceful country to the next one.


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