The proposed cap on tax breaks for vehicles purchased by Government Ministers is still before the Cabinet sub-committee and Energy Minister Stuart Young yesterday confirmed that it was not at the “forefront” of discussions.
The matter was tabled by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley back in October and proposed to put a $350,000 cap on the tax breaks on vehicles for ministers.
Earlier this week, Oropouche MP Dr Roodal Moonilal had called for a moratorium on the ministers’ purchase of vehicles, after it was revealed Government Ministers Young and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh used the facility to import high-end luxury vehicles recently.
“Proposals were made, they continue to be before the Cabinet sub-committee,” Young said in response to questions from the media at the post-Cabinet media briefing yesterday.
Young said he found it “ironic” that it was Moonilal who called for the cessation of luxury vehicle purchases.
“It is hypocritical of him, he is calling my name, so I am allowed to respond. The identical vehicle is what he drives, he is driving the identical vehicle and I asked where does he get the money to afford these things,” Young said in reference to his purchase of a Mercedes Benz GLE 450.
“As far as I know, I don’t know what work he does, what he does professionally since he left office in 2015.”
Young said the Government was very “conscious” of the issue.
“It rears its head ever so often, it is something that we are aware of but we are not detained by it,” he said.
“I could tell you that I did not utilise it prior to this.”
He said he “had something” on order last year, well before the elections and he took a decision to cancel the order until “things looked up this year.”
He said that it was not just politicians who were exempt but certain levels of public service and judges who also got similar breaks.
Young said he was committed to the service to the country and worked “24/7.”
“We cannot be faulted for that and sometimes, depending on the context you put on things, you can spin it a certain way and I certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone and I make no apologies for it,” he said.
On why the matter was languishing for so long, he said, “It is how do you look at it. Is this really something that is a priority item right now, what are the effects of this and that type of thing. There is a number of things that we look at.
“The truth is that it is not currently at the forefront.”
Over the last several days, documents from the Board of Inland Revenue were leaked to the public on the purchase of the luxury vehicles by Young and Deyalsingh.
One, dated March 15, 2021, shows approval being given by the division to grant exemptions to Young, in the sum of $556,571.06, for the purchase of a Mercedes Benz GLE 450.
The document stated the car’s market price as $1,039,460.41, with VAT as $129.932.55, motor vehicle tax at $134,955 and customs duty at $291,683.51.
The second document, dated June 7, 2021, shows approval being granted by the division to exempt Deyalsingh from paying $390,166.63 in VAT, motor vehicle tax and customs duty on the purchase of a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.
The vehicle’s value was stated as $703,437 on the document, with VAT amounting to $87,929.63, motor vehicle tax at $121,050 and customs duty at $181,187.