E-shopping levy not a right click

Newsday Editorial
April 13, 2016 – newsday.co.tt

Online ShoppingTHE GOVERNMENT is proposing a seven percent levy on online purchases. Shoppers have described the move as unfair, but Minister of Finance Colm Imbert has defended it, saying it would ease foreign exchange pressures, reduce revenue leakage, and divert buyers to local products. But not so. The levy is one tax too many.

E-shopping does place immediate pressure on the foreign exchange market. According to Imbert, it totals US$900 million out of the US$7.3 billion in foreign exchange transactions annually.

That’s about 12 per cent, a figure not to be sneezed at. But there is no evidence to suggest imposing the levy will ease the problem.

In the first place, it is unclear what impact an additional seven percent charge will have on consumer habits. Some shoppers have already stated they will continue to shop. Who would not? Online merchants offer a better and wider quality of products and at better prices. How was the seven percent quantum determined? Even if some shopping is discouraged, in the long run this may have little impact on foreign exchange pressures. That is because the largest consumers of foreign currency are retailers who import. The biggest users of foreign currency are: PriceSmart, Courts, Smith Robertson and Company, AS Bryden, and Massy Distribution. Cutting off the purchase of commodities on the net will divert shoppers to these retailers. In the process, the small man loses value for money, the big fish gets more profit.

While the State argues the levy could assist local manufacturers and service companies to compete with overseas retailers, this is based on wrong assumptions. Firstly, the quality of local commodities are not comparable. Secondly, the manufacturing sector is not yet developed to sustain such demand.

Thirdly, service standards in local shops remain poor.

Still, we welcome Minister Imbert’s setting of a clear timeline of implemention for the proposal.

The five months until September will be used to iron out details of the levy – such as the threshold to be used to attract a charge, whether intangibles such as services sold by Netflix and iTunes will be included and whether items such as critical medical supplies should be exempted. However, the whole point of serving notice five months in advance is to warn consumers as to what is coming. If we are unclear about the fundamental details of the levy now, a five-month notice, while better than nothing, is ultimately rendered nugatory.

The levy is one tax too many not only because it is ill-suited to the policy aims outlined by the State.

It also results in a bizarre situation where a seven per cent charge is to be imposed on items for which buyers already pay 20 per cent duty and Value Added Tax (VAT). We agree that the country needs some bitter medicine. But with workers on the breadline, land and building taxes coming back, the fuel subsidy stripped down, more taxes on alcohol, tobacco and gaming, the expansion of the VAT regime, freezes on salaries, and backpay deferred, the burden is weighing too heavily on the ordinary man. This levy is gratuitous: it is not a right click.

Instead, the State should focus on combatting the leak of foreign currency via Chinese businesses that have recently set up shop and that are remitting US dollars to mainland China. Also, better revenue collection can be achieved by bolstering agencies such as the Board of Inland Revenue. In a global world, local firms must up their game. Competition from online shopping might be more beneficial than protectionism.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Friday called on citizens to tolerate “small pains” as an alternative to big pains down the road.

But with a $15 billion deficit, will taxing e-shoppers stave off the International Monetary Fund?

Source: www.newsday.co.tt/editorial/0,226448.html

16 Responses to “E-shopping levy not a right click”


  • Well said.

    This about demolishes the case for the 7% levy.

  • WE MUST UNDERSTAND VERY CLEARLY WHO OUR GOVERNMENT SERVES, CERTAINLY NOT THE MAIN TAXPAYING PUBLIC. THEREFORE WE NEED TO SEND A MESSAGE THAT OUR UNCLE TOM LEADERS WHO SUCK UP TO THE MANY RIP OFF OUTSIDE BUSINESS PERSONS WILL NO LONGER BE IN CHARGE; WE ARE IN CHARGE AND WHAT WE WANT WILL BE ENTERTAINED. WE NEED TO GET IT RIGHT THIS TIME AROUND. CERTAINLY KAMLA AND HER GROUPEES WERE NOTHING BUT COMMON THIEVES WHO OUGHT TO BE DOING SERIOUS JAIL TIME FOR THEIR CRIMES OF TREASON AND MONEY LAUNDERING. OUR TAX DOLLARS WERE STOLEN FROM US UNDER THEIR LEADERSHIP. HOWEVER THIS PNM SET OF GROUPEES HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO HISTORY OF TURNING AROUND A FAILING ECONOMY. THEY ARE SIMPLY GRASPING ON STRAWS; NEVER HAD ANY COMMENDABLE SOLUTIONS FOR US AND ARE ONLY SUCKING UP TO THE G8s. WE NEED TO ACT NOW OR SUFFER UNDER THEM BOYS RUM AND ROTI POLITICAL SHIT. AS A NATION WE MUST NO LONGER BE AFRAID TO ACT IN OUR OWN INTERESTS NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES.

  • Is the express Ethno-politically Biased??

    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20160410/editorial/welcome-insight-into-scholarships

    Notice how out it congratulates authorities for going after aDr. Ryan Wellington for not coming back to T&T to work and is elated that the court ordered him to pay back $3.2 million. The name Ryan wellington is definitely not hindu, and more than likely and African Trinidadian. Out of Aĺĺllllllllllllllll the GATE scholarship winners in T&T that take the scholarship and do not retun,and the fact that the VAST MAJORITY of scholarship winners….especially 4he most costly OPEN scholarships are Hindu and other indians….isn’t it strange that he is the ONLY case prosecuted OR which express sought to highlightt??
    ALSO, further down this editorial by express it highlights the Hindu ‘victim’ a young hindu, who coincidentally during kamla’s reign in office passed 10000 subjects…..but not a SINGLE foreign language ! Noticeably, the first whiff of this hindu victim story, was during the shouter baptist holiday season, when the express shamelessly put “Why not Aarti?” ABOVE the front page shouter baptist celebratoon picture….would A Divali celebration front page spread be shared with a controversial article hinting at that sort of bias against an african??? It would NEVER be done…., THEN ii accuses the African minister of education, of making ‘Snide’ remarks…..Note that garcia is hin4ing at INDIAN run institutions being racist against Africans and the express seemintly attacks him for it!!

    ALSO,
    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20160405/editorial/conduct-unbecoming
    The express again shows bias and is attacking Dr. Rowley because he mentioned the multiple fluid stains (vomit etc) in PM1 as a contributing factor to selling the car…..this was a jab at kamla…everybody knows it……then WHY would express ‘jump in’ indirectly (sneakily) on behalf of Kamla?? ALLLLLLL of a sudden the express (ann or ralph?) Knows abiut how a PM should behave? Why didn’t express tel Kamla she was “unbecoming” when she kicked the then leader of the opposition (Dr. Rowley) ou4 of Parliament??? What about when Kamla endorsed Sat Maharaj on stage…in Public….kamla said sat should “keep talking” and the he “speaks for US”….why didn’t express tell Kamla that her ENTIRE time in office was “Unbecoming” of a REAL Prime Minister???the express is getting to the level of andre bagoo and the newsday….raymond ramcharitar and guardian….that means there are 3 of the mains ness outlets in T&T serving a Hindu/Indian agenda….or so it seems????

    • Thank you Alyssa, for elucidating this bias that is so obviously coming out of the Express newspapers, that not to notice it would be blind. It was the last of the Main Three to throw in its hand. And boy, did they do it without shame. They have become not just a politically aligned media but one that expresses racial bias as well.
      You may note, from time to time I have made mention of this bias in many of my blogs. I have no problem with media bias. My problem with them is that they should openly express their preferred choices. Fox in the United States is unceremoniously Republican. They make known their choices and preference for the Republican party and republican ideals. So, when one switch to Fox, you know you are watching biased reporting, in favor of the Republican ideals. No hypocrisy there. Our problem with the Express is that they profess fairness in reporting, while at the same time publishing biased articles. They need to be called out and I commend you for doing just that.
      We live in a small country. Truth is mostly always known but truth is seldom printed or made public. When major media use subliminal messages to enforce their biases and subvert truth, it hurts the seriousness of the messages they portray to be true.

    • When one person makes an accusation, check to be sure he himself is not the guilty one. Sometimes it is those whose case is weak who make the most clamour.

      • Sometimes it is those racist, deceitful dreggs of society (Tman) who cannot understand the difference between an individual having a clear and open bias (Alyssa), as opposed to an INSTITUTION that isn’t supposed to, and FEIGNS fairness (Newspaper). I AM biased against the UNCOPP! Is the Express Biased in favour OF the UNCOPP and against African Interests in T&T??? Is Tman UNbiased??? IS mamoo UNbiased??? Therein lies the difference…there are those who seek to use DECEPTION to further their agenda instead of earnestly arguing their ideas….!!!

        • Keith needs to learn not to put his foot in his mouth. All the article is saying is that there is the gutter and there is the entrance to go into it. But the so called wagan once again descended. I do not think too many of us bargained for this type of PM. He is no better than his predecessor PM who called him a wagan. Trinidad and Tobago deserves better.

        • You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

        • Here is a further national headline purporting to uphold values of moral and ethical standards……
          Case in point:
          “NATIONAL Security Minister Edmund Dillon must not dismiss or turn a blind eye to allegations of racism within the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) but instead launch an immediate investigation.”…..Guardian of today’s date. On the surface, this appears to be a rational request from the Guardian, for the National Security Department to seek answers, on what ‘appears’ to be a question of racism, with accusations of directives coming from higher ups, but wait a minute! It is just one man making a claim that the National Security Administration is trying to weed out Indians. The Guardian, without trying to secure the authenticity of the story, is accepting and giving prudence to the accusation by making a request to the National Security Minister to investigate the story. What if the story is a lie. Yes, a lie! In Trinidad and Tobago the claims of racial discrimination against a government headed by an Afro Prime Minister, is not new nor is it unusual. Who remember in the 1980s, with ANR Robinson as Prime Minister and Hulsie Bhagan as a UNC operative and Basdeo Panday as Opposition Leader, Indians laid the Claims that their women were being raped by Africans. The not only said that, they laid claims to massive discrimination against them by the government. They even sought asylum by the Government of Canada asking refuge from such ‘massive’ discrimination. In the end it turned out to be LIES…LIES….LIES….LIES! The Indians claim to legitimacy of their cries of discrimination have always one that they could count on for attention and favors.
          A frightened Afro Saxon, is only too willing to seek redress and allow the claims some authenticity. When they need the required attention, Indians have always used this ploy to get what they want and have succeeded in doing so. They have achieved the highest offices in the land and did what no former governments in the past have done. And yet! they are still crying d-i-s-c-r-i-m-i-n-a-t-i-o-n at every a any event that does not go their way. On the face of the accusation, it is foolish for a high government official to blatantly give such a foolish directive. BY this reasoning alone, the Guardian should take it upon themselves to do their own investigation and if there is some form of credibility to it, then the Minister should be asked to investigate. Why should government ministers be asked to investigate every foolish claim?

          My simple question to the Guardian is this: Where were they, when the former Prime Minster, Kamla Persad Bissessar fired a professional security expert,`in the person of Brigadier Joseph as head of SAUT? This professional security expert with years of training and experience in the security business, executive experience, military experience and police related experience was fired by Kamla, just because she wanted to put a young INDIAN GIRL in charge. She was inexperienced, lesser educated, novice without the benefit of proper training and security related education and void of management skills. Where was the outcry by the Guardian then? Did they call for an investigation? NO! Did they care that the lives of every citizen could be affected by that appointment? NO! Did they see that as racism in the highest order? NO! Did they see that as an ill-advised appointment? NO! But one man comes out and cries discrimination against Indians in the National Security Ministry and all of a sudden it is discrimination against Indians.
          For too long this stupid claim have cost us and we are no better of for it. The Police Force that used to be staffed with seventh standard graduates, used to be an efficient, hard working and professional organization until Panday decided that there should be more Indians.
          The physical requirements were minimized to encourage more Indians, the academic requirements were revised to encourage more Indian recruits. The result was a less efficient Force, where the detection rate is less than fourteen percent as opposed to the Seventh Standard Staffed Force, with a detection rate of over 90 percent. What the Police Service needs is not coloring by race. It needs recruits who are, first and foremost Patriots, who hold their nationality above race, religion or creed. It needs men and women of pedigree, not men and women who seek the service as a means of to enhance their financial status. The Service requires people who would put their lives on the line in the pursuit of duty. Not men and women who go into the Service to fill a quota of Indian Police. This kind of thinking is inherently WRONG.
          It is just as wrong when Indian executives, who occupied positions of influence in the security of this country, only because they were Indian to claim discrimination, just because the new minister does not agree with their qualifications. The Guardian should re-think its position on this request. As a member of the fourth estate, they should do their own investigation, and if there is credibility to the story, then by all means seek the further investigation by the National Security Minister. It is dishonest and wrong for every accusation of race or racial action, the minister should be approached to investigate. Furthermore, the SSA is NOT, I repeat NOT a teaching job where academics would be the main requirement. It is a position where the staffing MUST be certain of people who are dedicated to the security of the country FIRST AND FOREMOST. Party or politics should play no part in the execution of this important duty. Loyalty to the country, the President, the Prime Minister, the constitution, the laws of the country, the rules and regulations of governance is and MUST be the first assurance by whomever wants to serve in that capacity. Just looking at all the participants in this sorry scenario, reeks of racial politics taken to just another level. The main lawyer of these accusers, a former AG, who has a lll kinds of questions over his head. Starting with his personal life as a husband, his dealings with the importation of two cars carrying the same identification numbers, his dealings with Prisiongate, his dealings with the appointment of David West and so many questionable professional acts of his behavior as a man of the law.
          The Guardian cannot be serious in this stupid call for the Minister of National Security to waste his time investigating.

          • FIRE THEM
            FIRE THEM
            FIRE THEM
            FIRE THEM
            FIRE THEM

            …..WHAT WAS GOOD FOR 2010-2015 FOR 340,000 + IS GOOD FOR ME 2015- TO WHENEVER…..GET THEM OUT!
            It is not the exclusive right of Indians to fire africans for whatever reason given!

  • “Instead, the State should focus on combatting the leak of foreign currency via Chinese businesses that have recently set up shop and that are remitting US dollars to mainland China”

    Good point. There are several Chinese businesses setting up shop in TNT mainly in the grocery, gambling and restaurant businesses. The Chinese do not keep their money in TNT. I would be surprise if they do, most money do a quick exit to other destinations.

    Taking on the dragon could be a real challenge. In Canada the housing market is riding at an all time high as they park their money in real estate. The Chinese investor is buying sight unseen, so a house valued at $500,000 could easily be bought at $1.2 million. Increasing demand.

    There are other destinations where Chinese money is in full flight. Faris should stop wasting time with PNM/UNC million dollar questionable transactions. Instead Faris like the cat hunter he is must go hunting for the big wild cats. Believe me there are many of them out there in the economic jungle.

  • “Biggest users of foreign exchange PriceSmart, Courts, Smith Robertson and Company, AS Bryden, and Massy Distribution. Cutting off the purchase of commodities on the net will divert shoppers to these retailers. In the process, the small man loses value for money, the big fish gets more profit.”

    Is the Minister of Finance going to issue a 7% tax levy on these big users of foreign exchange or is the target only poor people who could only get things much cheaper buying online? Please can some reporter ask him that questions!

  • “We agree that the country needs some bitter medicine. But with workers on the breadline, land and building taxes coming back, the fuel subsidy stripped down, more taxes on alcohol, tobacco and gaming, the expansion of the VAT regime, freezes on salaries, and backpay deferred, the burden is weighing too heavily on the ordinary man. This levy is gratuitous: it is not a right click.”

    Added to all of those taxes are increases in water rate, electricity rate, GATE gone, laptops & scholarships disappear, amongst other austerity measures.. It remains to be seen the full effect of these measures. People still have election Tabanca.

    Affecting the nation is unacceptably high murder rate that would cover the other increases in criminality. At last count 140 citizens were murdered in less 4 months. I am sure larceny and violent crimes will increase.

    With Iran selling oil and the US self sufficient in oil there is no end in sight of oil rising beyond $80 a barrel anytime soon.
    This trend of tax increases is not unique to Trinidad, government all over prefer tax increases over cutting jobs in the civil service. The thing about Trinidad is this is draconian measures being taken at a time when lay offs and job uncertainties is at an all time high. Citizens will have to dip into their nest eggs to feed a government that seems to either don’t care, does not have a realistic fiscal plan except to raise taxes, believes that such strong medicine is good for all.

    To be fair all oil base jurisdictions are hurting, Venezuela suffered really badly as uncle Chavez gave away oil or sold it at way below world cost. Alberta economy is in a tailspin, not so long ago they had the lowest tax regime. Saudia has amassed a huge deficit, the Russians are hurting.

    The short term future looks bleak especially for the poor. Trinis will have to think community base and start to identify families that are hurting and begin to help them with food and basic necessities. But things have been known to turn around so keep faith.

    • Yes Mamoo boy Kams really raided the treasury when she knew the election was lost for her. But we will fix that.

      • Do you know what ELSE ‘Kams’ Did knowing they might have lost?

        (1) Gave out last minute THREE YEAR CONTRACTS in CEPEP &
        URP (INDIANS)

        (2) Installed a long, backed up line of UNCOPP INDIANS in
        Directly leading up to BINDING Managerial & Assisting
        Managerial positions in every conceivable minitry
        Position in order to control the incoming PNM

        Major Boards like Nipdec are STILL 110% UNCOPP 8 months later

Comments are currently closed.