The Budget Review has been presented by the Hon. Minister of Finance and T&T's social media has gone super nova with reactions. While preparing for a proper analysis, let's look at the FIVE (5) biggest things that have T&T buzzing as a result:
- 7% Tax on Online Shopping - What??? Why??? Well, they why is to limit foreign flight in terms of US reserves but also to encourage local sales further (as well as to increase government income as online shopping is extremely popular locally and growing). However, apart from the frustrations of the many consumers who usually find deals online as opposed to the 150% mark-up we get when buying the same items in local stores, how about the small business man whose entire stock is predicated on this type of shopping? The small man who is primarily an online store locally? It seems like all those local entrepeneurs, many who are moonlighting before riaing enough funds to go full time, will now have to return to having just the one salary from their day job.
- Rise in Alcohol (and tobacco and gaming) - The regular rise in alcohol under the previous PNM administration has been named in many circles as a key reason as to why Patrick Manning was not given enough time to become Executive President. It seems that Dr. Rowley does not believe that the carnival loving public are really serious about their rum, but we have until May until the actual changes come into play. Based on the reactions online, it seems that the majority of T&T may prefer to drink and forget their worries than to face up to the problems facing the economy. There is a lot of talk about alcohol stockpiling between now and the end of the month. We think only half of those are jokes. The plus side for the government is that by the next election everyone would be used to the new prices and fetes would still be sold out...as long as this is not a regular rise.
- Gas gone up...again - Diesel and Super have joined with Premium in having a further reduced gas subsidy. Gas Station lines were already full today in preparation for that one! Car pooling gets a second life in T&T, especially as the Rapid Rail has also been shelved.
- Tax on luxury vehicles- This one was popular mainly because it comes on the heels of the PM just purchasing a Benz...tax free of course, It's only the public who would be affected by this one, not the public officials. Is that fair? However, there are tax concessions if you buy hybrid, electric or CNG fueled vehicles. Luxury or the enviroment? Decisions, decisions. Either way, you would still need one as there is no plan for a mass transportation system in place, remember?
- Dollar will not devalue further...at least not greatly - The Min. Of Finance has pledged to keep the dollar within 3.3% of it's current value and not continue rising to $7 or $8 per US as predicted. This is some good news although many remain skeptical. Time will tell if this promise is genuine. Not many of the PNM promises since October's budget have been met at this point.
Some other points of interest were the pending changes to GATE, CEPEP, URP and PropertyTax by 2017.
What's your take on the budget review? Anything of major importance that we think flew under the radar?