‘It’s our decision’ – Jordan on tax reform recommendations

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By Devina Samaroo

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan has lashed out at Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram who had raised concerns about the government’s failure to implement tax measures which were recommended by the Tax Reform Committee.

The Committee, comprising four persons including Ram, presented its report to the government in January 2016 where it suggested a slew of tax reform measures including the reduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) to 7 percent and that income tax exemption should be removed, among others.

Ram recently called out the administration for not implementing all of the recommendations made by the Committee.

Christopher Ram

But during an exclusive interview with the News Room on Thursday, the Finance Minister argued that the government has the authority to be selective in implementing the recommendations.

“I believe that the government, as the client and the four distinguished gentlemen as the persons who did the report, would agree that it should be the client who makes available the report and the discussions therein. I don’t believe that individually or collectively, the report is the owner or is owned by any of those individuals,” he explained.

According to the Minister, “recommendations and advise given to a client are just that, they’re recommendations and they’re advise, it is for the client to use any or all of the recommendations or advice given or it is the client who will either, I using any or all, use it in full or invariance of them or none of them at all.”

Jordan contended that for “Mr Ram to give the impression” that the government did not implement all of the recommendations is “begging the question it is the executive’s sole purview within which implementing recommendations and advice within which it falls.”

In fact, the Minister explained that the administration had commissioned two reports on tax reform, one by the local tax reform committee and the other by the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC). He noted that some of the recommendations coincide while some varied.

“So when Mr Ram sees that we didn’t implement X and Y, it’s because we had two reports and it’s for us to determine which ones we thought we economically feasible, financially feasible, politically feasible, socially implementable, so on,” he stated.

Jordan explained, “Taxing private education caused a furore. Can you imagine what taxing pension will cause?”

He asserted also that not all of the recommendations were meant to be immediately implemented.

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