Thursday 25 April, 2019

Finance Minister dubbed "Trinidad's Maduro"

The Casino Union has labeled Finance Minister Colm Imbert “The Maduro of Trinidad” after they compared his treatment of the Trinidad and Tobago Gaming Industry to Venezuela’s.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Union leveled its criticism against the “draconian” taxation measures against the Gaming Industry Employees which were announced in the 2018 budget which was read by the Minister on Monday.

The release said T&T is well on its way to mimicking Venezuela whose population mostly gambles online.

“It appears that Minister Colm Imbert has taken pattern from his Venezuelan counterpart President Nicolás Maduro Moros with this failed taxation measure. Minister Imbert once said in a public forum that he has raised taxes more than once and the population has not rioted. Is Minister Imbert now waiting for a public riot before he heeds the cry of the employees of the Gaming Industry?”

“If the taxation measures proposed are implemented without any changes then from the Venezuelan example it is clear that hundreds of employees will be put on the bread-line adding to the economic crisis and collapse in Trinidad and Tobago.”

According to the Union, gambling legislation remains in force however, most of the casinos were closed in 2011.

“Before they were closed, SENIAT (the Ministry of Tourism, Customs and Excise Service) had collected USD 17.7 million from bingo and casino operators (the figure is from 2007). Gambling taxes were raised considerably prior to closure: bingo halls had to pay between 12 and 20 percent tax on net revenues, and gambling-machine operators between 30 and 50 percent. It has been claimed that 100,000 jobs were lost due to closure of gambling establishments,” the statement said.

Venezuela is currently in a state of unrest as activists continue protest action against the unpopular dictatorship of President Nicolas Maduro. The protests have turned violent as local police attack participants with tear gas and rubber bullets. They also storm houses looking for anyone who opposes the president. There are also reports of looting and starvation in the country.

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