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Tuesday, October 24 2017 @ 05:33 AM AST

Auto Dealers: Budget measures anti-environment, anti-small business

Trinidad and Tobago Auto Dealers Association at P&V Marketing compound in Chaguanas said the budget measures concerning the auto industry is anti-environment, and anti-small business.

Government budget measures proposed Monday in the reading of the national budget in Parliament on the auto industry are anti-environment, and anti-small business, the Trinidad and Tobago Auto Dealers Association (TTADA) said yesterday (Oct. 3) at P&V Marketing, Mulchan Seuchan Road, Chaguanas.

"They want to shut us down to favour their one-per cent friends," said Steffon Marajh, executive TTADA member. He said the government is stacking the odds in the favour of the conglomerates, although the foreign used car industry employees more 'unskilled labour' and turns them into 'skilled.'

TTADA President Visham Babwah said the industry lobbied the government for years to get the tax breaks on hybrid vehicles, finally got them last year in the budget, and now government has adjusted the tax breaks making a hybrid vehicle more costly than a gasoline vehicle in its category.

Ian Maharaj, another TTADA executive member, at the post-budget gathering, said last year this very government removed taxes on engines and now has taken them back, causing the most popular hybrid vehicles, like the Toyota Prius, to be more expensive than their comparable gasoline-only fueled counterparts. A Prius cost would rise from an estimated $85,000 to $150,000, the dealers said when asked for an example of how the tax would impact.

TTADA Vice President Rhondall Feeles said the two compelling reasons hybrid vehicles should revert to being more affordable are climate change and environmental conservation. He said it would also be beneficial for T&T to consume less fossil fuel and reduce the country's carbon foot print per capita, one of the highest in the world. Feeles said the budget was a step backward from the measures taken last year.

The measures make no sense to other executive members David Mohammed and Atma Jamura either. "This is a big scam for the government to reward its one-per cent friends," Marajh contended. He said there are more tax incentives for compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrids than electric hybrids when the world is adopting electric hybrids, to which Massy and Southern Sales existing and coming hybrid vehicles are testament.

Babwah said the foreign used industry by virtue of its size consumes much less foreign exchange than the US$500 million cited by Finance Minister Colm Imbert. By TTADA calculations the figure was near US$42 million, less than 10 per cent of that. He challenged the minister to produce the numbers to show whether small auto-dealers or large auto-dealers are using the foreign exchange he spoke about.

Babwah also said the 35,000 new vehicles were mostly from the major new vehicle companies, and estimated the foreign used industry added only about 5,000 of that.

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