Photos and interviews by Frances Abraham and Alva Solomon

This week we asked the man and woman in the street about their views on the budget debate and the Value Added Tax.

Leila Ramjit- Housewife: `VAT should be reduced. I am not working, it is only my husband supporting our family and we have five children. It should be reduced because prices everywhere is on the rise. Personally, I don’t see any changes in our country like they said there will be development. I only see work on roads but our children should get some form of support… that would be development for the people. Each child should be entitled to money from the government because we don’t have a million people here and we are a rich country with many resources. We shouldn’t even have people living on the streets.’

Berchell Thompson- Public Sector employee:  ‘I think all public servants’ salaries should be raised to suit the budget. Just as everything raise on the market, so should people’s salaries. They must see with the poor people and if possible, cut off VAT altogether. I am not seeing any development in the country with the taxpayer’s money. I think more emphasis should be placed on these issues because this is really what is affecting the people not the roads that they are doing.’

 Naomi Gouveia- Private Sector employee: ‘I think they should drop the VAT a little, that would be nice. I would say about 10% would be easier on people’s pocket. When you go to the shop, a $100 product, you got to pay $120 or $140 and it’s hard when you look at it in total. Poor people are finding it very hard to survive under these circumstances.’

John Knights- Construction Worker: `The VAT should be brought down because when you take that out of the little money you are working for, it really cannot work out for the small person. I think the Government is fooling people when they say the money gathered from VAT is being used to develop the country so really I don’t see how this is benefitting the people.’

Winifred Reid- Vendor: ‘I think they should give the old age pensioners more money because the electricity, phone and water bills alone cost more than that little money. Everything in the shops getting more expensive and the VAT is adding even more pressure. I don’t think the VAT is contributing to the economy, in my view it should never be. In fact, the government always borrows money from overseas for their big projects so the tax is not contributing in any way. The budget debate though is not making any sense because they only talk and talk but there is never any action.’

Indramattie Devi- Fish Vendor: `I think VAT should be reduced because people already got to pay so much on products and with the tax, these prices are going sky high. It should at least be lowered to 10%. I think that would make it a little bit more affordable for people.’

Rhonda Noel- Single Mother:
`Of course, it should be reduced to at least 8% because just like me, other single parents cannot afford to buy certain things and provide comfortably for their families. I don’t think VAT is benefitting the country in any way. Only those upper class people can say that the country is benefitting but those who don’t have it, can’t really make a living. Nurses and teachers as public servants should get a raise because they work very hard.’

 Brian Canzius- Taxi Driver: `I think VAT is an important thing because it garners revenue for the country but it is too high and should have been 10%. The government should consider reducing it at the end of all the debates because it is the poor man who is going to be affected. Also, the budget speaks of infrastructure and other issues but what about money in people’s pockets. I think the threshold should not only be $50,000 but to at least $70,000.’

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