As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to tighten its lasso around the economy, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan said it is no surprise that requests would be flowing in from businesses for tax waivers.
The Minister noted however that what seems to be lacking from the requests for “outlandish waivers” which could virtually degut government’s ability to finance itself and services provided to the people, is a simple analysis.
The economist said, “Every single request is just pages upon pages (but) there is no analysis…Every waiver we give we have to carefully consider the taxes forgone and how we can still maintain services at that level or with minimal disturbance. If someone submits a request and they didn’t hear from us, that is because they didn’t do the analysis and merely submitted a letter with a 100 different items for tax removal.”
Minister Jordan also lamented that even when tax breaks are given, the consumers are not benefitting from same. In this regard, he was referring to the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on soaps, disinfectants, masks, hand sanitizers and other medical supplies that would be needed to fight the coronavirus. The Minister said that even though this measure was implemented, the government is still receiving complaints from citizens that the prices are still the same and in some cases, they have increased.
He added, “We removed tax for domestic travel. I would love to hear from passengers if they have seen a reduction in ticket prices. There are too many examples where businesses are taking advantage of consumers and the people are just feeling helpless, like we aren’t doing anything…Too many people in this crisis are taking advantage and price gouging seems to be the order of the day.”
Considering the fact that the ordinary man does not seem to be benefitting from the trickledown effect of the current tax measures as well as the failure of companies to provide an analysis of why they want tax waivers on several items, Minister Jordan said that the government would have to be prudent and not grant such requests in a hasty fashion.